Deer Cave is reached by following a three kilometer plankwalk which passes through peat swamp, alluvial flats and limestone outcrops. There is much to see on the way to the cave, including some superb rainforest, jungle streams and an ancient Penan burial cave.
When you reach the cave entrance you are left in no doubt that you are about to enter the largest cave passage in the world. Deer Cave is simply huge – it is just over 2 kilometers in length and never less than 90metres high and wide. The main chamber, which is partially lit by sunlight, is 174 meters wide and 122 meters high. This is the area where deer used to shelter so the local Penan and Berawan people named the Gua Payau or Gua Rusa(Deer Cave).
A path leads into the cave and winds its way around, following the natural contours of the cave floor. Although the path is lit, a flashlight is useful for examining the guano-covered cave floor and its population of insects. The path eventually leads to the “Garden I Eden” where a hole in the cave roof lets in a shaft of light which allows the rich green vegetation to thrive. Another feature is the famous profile of Abraham Lincoln, which guards the southern entrance of the cave.
Not surprisingly, Deer Cave is home to many species of bats. Between 5 and 7pm, if the weather is fine, visitors may be treated to the spectacular sight of a black cloud of free-tailed bats emerging from the entrance of the cave to go in search of food. Originally, this cloud was thought to contain hundreds of thousands of bats but a recent study that the figure is well over a million.
A visit to Deer Cave is usually combined with one to Lang’s Cave, whose entrance is a short distance away from that of Deer Cave. Lang’s Cave is the smallest of the show caves but its rock formations are well worth seeing. These are made all the more attractive by the strategically positioned spotlights which highlight stalactites and stalagmites. As the cave is relatively small and well-lit, it offers good opportunities to see some of its inhabitations such as bats, swiftlets and even cave-dwelling snakes.
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