I was rather surprised when the suggestion to go caving didn’t get any objections, contrary to that, everyone seemed rather excited about that. The target cave : Gua Tempurung, which is in Gopeng, Perak.
Info below extracted from the official website http://www.guatempurung.com/main.php
Gua Tempurung (Tempurung Cave) has existed since early 8000 B.C. and it is one of the larger cave systems found in the scenic limestone hills of Perak. In fact, it is the largest natural limestone structure in Peninsular Malaysia. The cave measures 1.9 km in length and 120 metres in height. The cave follows a direct course through a mountain range called Gunung Gajah-Tempurung, located south of Ipoh towards Gopeng and Kampar. It is a cavern inside Gunung Tempurung (Tempurung Mountain) standing 497 metres high and is about 250 million years old. This means Gua Tempurung is even older than the mountain that rises majestically like a karst tower. Visible from the North-South Expressway near Gopeng, the mountain is an erosional remnant near an ancient coastline. Years of mineralisation of the limestone rocks yielded deposits of tin, with some tungsten minerals and other minor ores. In several locations inside the dry upper chambers of the cave, vein deposits of tin (cassiterite) are evident in walls and ceilings. Within the karst tower, there is a river-cave system. The river, Sungai Gua Tempurung runs about 1.6 km. It originates from the north and south outlets of a small catchment derived from the granite upland area to the east.
There are 4 tours into Gua Tempurung, read about them here . We decided to go for Tour 3 -Top of the World & Short River Adventure-which , from the website, should take us about 2 1/2 hours .
We called Gua Tempurung 2 weeks before the date, to make a booking for the guide. You can turn up without making reservations, but we called, just in case –after reading on the net of some poor chappie having to wait a long time for a guide. For Tour 1 and 2 – the shorter tours, there were no need to make reservations. The minimum group size for Tour 3 is 8 pax . Don’t worry if there are no enough of you in your group, you can join with some other group to make up the numbers.
2 days before the date – after a more elaborate search on the net, we found some more pictures ( and blogs) about Gua Tempurung, and it looked kinda scarryyy one lerr… there seemed to be 2 major challenge , #1 – to have to slide down a boulder , #2 having to squeeze through a tunnel. From the pixs the boulder looked very steep lerr..how ahhh ?
We departed KL around 8 a.m , easy drive, not too much of a traffic, kept to the speed limit , didn’t have too much of a problem locating the place – the map was quite clear and the road signs were adequate. With 1 stop in between, it took us ~ 2.5 hours traveling time. Map below extracted from here
We bought the tickets, RM11 per pax . Before starting the tour, our guide gave us some briefing and emphasized that ‘You will get wet, everything you carry will get wet’. We were advised not to bring wallets, handphones or cameras. Following that, knapsacks, cameras , wallets and handphones were collected and we rented a locker at the ticket counter. I decide to take a risk with my camera .. Masuk water then tough luck- maybe time to get a new camera lorrr…I wrapped the camera in 2 layers of plastic bag, and carry that ( along with my water container) in a plastic carrier bag. There were a total of 12 pax in our group : 8 of us plus 4 young Malay chaps.
Tra la la la la..in the cave we went…
Guide told us that the cave was ‘discovered’ in 1996 and in 1998, facilities were built to allow the public to visit. Most part of the dry area were illuminated with lightings, although some parts could be darker.
We saw various stalactites and stalagmites , on how precious these are – it takes many many thousand years just for these to grow an inch.
At this point, I think the guide must have noticed that I was re-wrapping my camera with the plastic bags after each stop/photo session, and then he told me ‘ we are still in the dry area, when we get to the wet area, I will inform all of you, and you all can get ready to protect your camera’.
There were many many stairs, they looked kinda intimidating and some seemed to go on forever . But don’t worry, you may get a little out of breath but you don’t have to be superfit for this as the guide provide ample time for rest and catching your breath.
In a cave, all you need is imagination and you start to see things, this was proven when we were shown formations that bear some resemblance to animals ( fish la, duck la. horse’s kaki la, turtle also got) food ( probably hungry after the exploration, they start to hallucinate about food- we were showed formations that look like a gigantic bowl of ice kacang, drumstick etc ). I tried to take some pixs…and found that my little camera is just not powerful enough …evidence as below
We asked Guide, did anyone get lost in the caves before ? And he said ‘Yes’ without a moment of hesitation . I was rather shocked at his honesty and thought that at least he could be more reassuring and lie to us la..but he hadn’t finished with his answer, he continued ‘ our group met up with another group that was on the way out and this couple followed the wrong guide so, instead on continuing with the tour with my group the couple headed towards the exit with the other group’ . Phew..ok..i can live with that..
The cave was airy (no batty smell) and there was an area in the cave where one could feel a very strong airflow, nice and cooling.
Then…we came to the fabled boulder…frankly, it was even scarier than in the pixs ! it was rather steep and seemed to be a rather long way to slide as well. Guide showed us the correct way to do it – feet straight, feet together , hands by the sides and then use your hands to slowly slide your way down the boulder. Some of the guys slide down gracefully, although some did with a big bump too. The slide down the boulder has 2 section,: shorter and not steep slide ( not scary) at the beginning and the scary steep slide. The Guide must have sense the panic among the ladies and position himself at the point right before the steepest area and using his feet as a stopper to hold us in position before we ‘enjoy’ our slide down this steep boulder. And down below, some team members were in position to catch us and break our fall. That was fun ( and scary) on a gigantic scale.
Then, the Guide said ‘ it’s time to get wet’ , so I dutifully wrapped my camera in it’s 2 layers of plastic bag, and discovered that my plastic string bag has a hole down it sides. Oh Oh..let’s hope the 2 layers of plastic bag will hold.
We walked through streams, smooth pebbles of various sizes under our feet and ohh..there are no more artificial lights available ..we really have to rely on our torchlights now. It was fun, walking in the cool water …and then…the area start to get narrow….and narrower..and the openings smaller and smaller, we had to bend somewhat to make our way through and after a while, we have to crouch and then..we had to crawl on all fours ( in water) ,. to make our way though the small passageway. Some areas are probably less than 1.5 feet high and it can be quite tricky as we really have to watch where we are going , if not, you will get a rather nasty bump on your head.
I was the last person in the group and many times I turned off my torchlight and took a backward glance..total darkness..nothing….just darkness and stillness..if I got lost ..mama mia…..scary…
It was such a relief to be able to hold our head high and walk like homo sapiens after that long crawl ..and then…the area start to get narrow, and narrower and the openings smaller and smaller and we had to bend somewhat…( you catch my drift)..and it was down to all fours again. At this point, my kneecaps were rather sore from the scratches I get from the rough pebbles ( and they seemed so smooth earlier, when I didn’t have to rub my bare skin on them !!) as I was crawling my way through the caves…
And then another …and another crawl..i think it was a total of 4 of these that we had to get through. Well, my nephew had a great idea, instead of crawling his way through, he swam !! which was really much more easier.
After nearly 2 hours of our exploration, the cave start to widen and then we see sunlight and hurrahhh..a burst of colour…we made it ! Wet, Exhausated & Thumbs up all around . This was absolutely great !!
BTW : my camera was ok
Some advice on clothing :
- comfy t-shirt
- long khakis / track bottom / pants that at least will cover your kneecaps ( if you wear shorts ( like me) you are going to get painful scratches.
- sport shoes / waterproof sandals with straps
( for Tour 1 and 2- it’s on dry land, just need a pair of comfy shoes )
Things to bring
- torchlight, if you have headlights- these are the best, as they leave your hands free. Best if your torchlight is water proof as this might get wet when you do that crawl thingy
- change of clothes and toiletries ( bath areas are available ( RM1/ entry for taking baths, for use of the loo RM0.30)
- drinking water ( if required)
I looked up flickr for some pixs and found some interesting pixs here
For enquiries and booking to visit Gua Tempurung, contact:
Cik Ayu/Shahril : 012-592 8952
Abdul Manan : 019-543 7192
Operational Hours: 9am to 5pm