As you walk slowly along the creaking, wooden floor, surrounded by almost pure darkness, you turn your flashlight up to the massive stone ceiling, and are greeted by dozens of bats that you just awoke from their daytime slumber, who then pounce straight in your direction, screeching, as you turn your flashlight away into the dark. Welcome to the massive caves of Borneo.

Those afraid of the dark, beware!

Borneo’s caves are world famous, and rightly so, some of them are absolutely huge! There is something primeval about entering into these massive chambers. Some of the caves are slightly lit up, while others you need your own flashlight as they go almost pitch black. The caves are populated by massive colonies of bats, lending them an eerie feel. Getting through with not humming the Batman theme at least once, is an admirable feat.

Deer Cave in Mulu National Park.

There are many caves to discover, but Deer Cave in Mulu National Park, in Malaysian Borneo is the most impressive. This is the big kahuna! It’s said you could fly a jumbo jet into here, it’s that big.

The cave is reached by a 45 minute walk through rainforest, where you will be greeted by huge limestone cliffs, surrounded by jungle.

Deer cave in Mulu

Outside Deer Cave.

Entering inside you will be in awe. The ceiling stretches far above you, as you crane your neck to take it all in. Walking along a wooden walkway, you enter further and further inside.

Deer cave in Mulu

Entering into Deer Cave.

You can wander around deep into this cave, seeing various limestone formations.

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Apart from the size of the cave, the thing that will really strike you is the size of the bat colony there. There is estimated to be around three million bats living inside Deer Cave! As you stroll around at evening time, when the bats are slowly waking up, you can hear the symphony of screeches overhead.

As the sun sets, the bats all leave together in massive groups. Streaming out of the cave to go feed for the night, it is one of natures great shows. They can keep coming out for a long time. After 30 minutes of watching, the neck gets a little sore, and it’s still not finished!

Here is a short video to give you an idea of what it is like:

Clearwater Cave in Mulu National Park.

In the same national park as the Deer Cave, is Clearwater Cave. Named for the river that runs through it, this is one of the most beautiful caves to view.

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Reaching Clearwater Cave is part of the fun, as you ride a local boat up a river for around 30 minutes to reach the entrance.

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The river running through lends the cave a mystical quality, and with all the twists and turns, you could easily imagine yourself in a Lord of the Rings scene, like so many of the caves.

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Niah Great Cave in Niah National Park.

Another national park in Borneo is home to some of the funnest caves you could explore, Niah National park. The Great Cave is the big drawcard here, and is equally as impressive as the ones in Mulu. But the great thing is, none of the caves are lit up, and if you’re lucky enough, you could have all the caves to yourself in the evening time.

Niah National Park

Walking to the caves.

Reaching the caves is interesting in itself, walking along a raised wooden platform in the jungle, you can view massive trees, small animals, the limestone cliffs that surround the caves. Even before you reach the Great Cave, there are some “smaller” outer caves to see.

Niah National Park

Outer cave on the way to the Great Cave.

Now if no-one happens to be wandering inside the caves with you, this will add up to some eerie fun. As with all caves there are bats here. Add the non-lit cave, and a visit in the evening with fading light outside, the bats begin to come alive, with you inside.

Great Cave at Niah

Stairs leading up into the darkness of Niahs Great Cave.

Away from the entrance, deeper inside, you can turn your flashlight off and be in pitch darkness, listening to the bats stir on the ceilings above. Then you wander up and down creaking wooden stairs, slippery wet with cave moisture and lots of bat shit. Your mind can play tricks on you here. Feeling like your in a Scooby Doo episode, you reach the far end of the cave, and the light of another entrance.

Great Cave at Niah

Another entrance to the Great Cave.

There can’t be photos shown of the sheer darkness inside here, as, well, it is to dark! It can be some fun shining your flashlight up to the ceiling, you will almost always come upon a big group of bats, who, being disturbed, then dive bomb all around the place, making you possibly duck for cover.

Getting to the entrance of the cave as the sun sets, you can see some bats exit here as in Mulu, but nowhere near as impressive, just a few here and there.

Great Cave in Niah

Looking out of the main entrance of the Great Cave.

The caves have a cathedral like quality in parts, natural beauty shaped over millions of years.

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Formations inside a cave.

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Created over millions of years.

Creatures inside make it there home. The dangling cables left by small worms inside, just add to the effect.

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To add to some fears about the dark and bats, there are also plenty of other creepy crawlies to come upon when walking around. Don’t forget the caves are surrounded by jungle. Those with a fear of spiders, will not be amused by huge ones all around the jungle floor and in the trees!

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Spider says hello.

Enter the darkness and go see some caves for yourself.

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Jonny Duncan is a travel blogger and freelance photographer. He specialises in adventure and budget travel with over 20 years of experience. He started blogging in 2013 to give advice for other travellers. He has lived in Japan, Amsterdam, Kiev, and more.

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