|Location:||Eastern lowlands of Sabah, in the district of Sandakan. From Sandakan or Lahad Datu, take turnoff towards Kg. Sukau for about 20km. 6km more to the base of the caves and reception area.|
All year Mon-Thu 8-12:30, 14-16:30, Fri 8-11:30, 14-16:30, Sat, Sun 8-12:30, 14-16:30.
Adults MYR 30, Children (0-12) MYR 15.
MyKad Holders: Adults MYR 5, Children (0-18) MYR 2.
Photography MYR 10.
|Address:||Wildlife Department, Tel: 6089-666550.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1889||investigation of the guano deposits by J.H. Allard of the China Borneo Company.|
|1925||Gomantong Forest Reserve founded, first reserve in Sabah.|
|1930||Gomantong Caves first surveyed by P. Orolfo.|
|2012||re-mapping and laser-scanning of the caves.|
|2014||re-mapping and laser-scanning of the caves.|
There is a self guided tour through Gua Gomantong (Gomantong Caves), partly on elevated wooden pathways and partly on trails through the cave. Although the cave is easy to visit, guides are recommended. Hats or an umbrella are recommended too, for the sun and the bat poo!
The Gomantong Caves are well known for their birds nest industry. Those nests are built by cave swiftlets, which live here in huge numbers. The local people are collecting these nests using bamboo ladders and poles. Historically the harvesting of nests was managed by families on a rotational basis. The rights were inherited and passed down for generations. After the reserve was created in 1925, the licensing was issued by the Wildlife Department, based on tenders, and costs about MYR 300,000 per harvest season. Heavy fines are imposed on unlicensed collectors. During non harvesting seasons, guards are posted at the cave to stop any poaching.
The harvesting seasons of the nests are from February to April and from July to September. The nests are harvested between the swiftlets breeding seasons, while the nests are not used. The birds would reuse abandoned nests, removing the nests forces them to construct new nests. During this time the visit is even more interesting as it is possible to see the collectors at work. In the huge caves of Gomantong the nests are located some 90m above the floor and are reached on rattan and bamboo ladders. This work is very dangerous and accidents are often deadly.
The cave is populated by many birds and probably even more bats, who produce a huge amount of debris, mostly guano but also remains of the food, the nests, and dead animals. The cave floor is full of life, feeeding on this continuous stream of food from above. Millions cockroaches, rats and crabs live on the cave floor. The smell produced by the guano is impressive.
There are two huge caves in the park. The first one is called Simud Hitam (Black Cave) after the black nests which are collected here. This one is open to the public and developed with elevated wooden trails. The main passage is about 100m high and 30m wide. The second cave is named Simud Putih (White Cave) for the white nests. It is much larger, undeveloped, and difficult to reach. Visits require a permit from the reserve.
The caves are rather hard to reach. Leaving the good road A5 a gravel road with many bumps follows, after 20km there is the main entrance to the Gomantong Forest Reserve. From here a 6km long track which requires a 4WD leads to the caves.
There are many more caves all across Sabah, for example at Madai, Tempadong, Baturong and the Sapulut Valley. Many of these caves have been used as human burial sites.