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We had another fairly early start this morning to ensure we kept to the plan to leave camp at 8am. This morning we went to Deer Cave.
Deer Cave is home to the 3 million wrinkle lipped bats we watched leaving the cave in spectacular form on day 1. It’s also home to 11 other bat species, cave swiftlets, turtles, snakes, and many creepy crawlies. When we entered the cave today, we wore our sun hats to prevent ending up with earwigs and cockroaches, fallen from the cave roof, crawling around our hair!
Due to the many millions of bats residing in this cave, there is a lot of guano, bat poo. The majority of the cave floor was absolutely covered in it, and the smell was very strong!
Guano contains salt, which is very important in all animals diets. Originally, many years ago, deer would come to the cave to seek out the guano as they discovered the high salt content it possessed, and would drink the salty water in the cave. This is how Deer cave got it’s name. Nowadays, deer aren’t seen at the cave, as the high volume of visitors make it impossible for them to visit.
In our visit today, we observed the sheer size of the cavern and the amazing rock structures in the interior. The guano, although rather smelly, wasn’t too much on the path, making it easy for us to walk around. Amazingly we saw a soft skin turtle, bats, a shed snake skin, and a huge cricket eating a dead bat! When we reached the end of the 800m path allowing us into the cave, we caught a glimpse of “The Garden on Eden”, an area of rainforest caught between Deer cave and Green Cave where the roof collapsed many years previously. This little pocket of sunshine amongst the darkness was truly magical to see.
After our wonderful tour around Deer cave, we embarked back on the 3km walk to Camp. On the way to the cave Ismail, our guide, showed us the herb garden, and explained to us the uses of lost of the different plants and leaves. These plants ranged from curing cuts to helping migraines and it was fascinating listening to all this information being delivered from someone who personally grew up in the jungle.
On the way back, Ismail spoke about how hunting is easier in the wet season as they can track animal footprints in the ground. He explained how the different sorts of trees are used in making the Penan blow pipes they use to hunt. We learnt lots today and it has all been valuable information.
This evening we went to watch the sunset from the top of the Batu (hill) and it was a wonderful moment. In 1977 when Robin would watch the sunset from here, he used to gaze across virgin rainforest. Tonight when we watched the sunset we over looked rainforest and the airport which, although made our lives easier in getting to Mulu, shows how quickly Mulu develops. The only other way into Mulu is hours up the river!
More excitement tomorrow,