Malaysia // Sarawak //

Niah National Park

NIAH NATIONAL PARK, ninety minutes’ drive south of Miri, is practically a compulsory visit even if you’re already caved out from visiting Mulu. Yes, its main attractions are massive limestone caves, but there any similarity with Mulu ends. Whereas almost all excursions at Mulu are regimented and chaperoned, visitors at Niah simply wander the caves at will, in places stumbling along tunnels – lightless but for your own torch – like questers from The Lord of the Rings. Elsewhere the caves are alive, with not just bats but people, who harvest bat guano and swiftlet nests for much of the year. This potent combination of vast caverns, communities at work, the rainforest and Niah’s archeological significance – it’s famous for prehistoric cave paintings and early human settlement – makes even a day-trip to Niah a wonderful experience. It is indeed possible to see much of Niah in a day: allow two to three hours to get from the park offices to the most distant caves, with breaks along the way.