Gomantong Caves - Largest cave system in Sabah
30 minutes (36 Km) from Sandakan Point to Round About of Sukau Road.
Buy ticket from the Park Office, the from behind the off, proceed on foot along a plankway to the cave entrance. The walking take 5-10 minutes across the jungle.
To find out
the exact harvesting times contact :
Gomantong Caves is home to million swiftlets. The swiftlets' nest are collected for the famous Chinese Delicacy, bird's nest soup, and fetch a good price locally and abroad. Twice a year, in the caves men can be seen scaling bamboo ladders to heights of about 90m to collect this delicacy off the cave walls.
The swiftlets’ neighbors are bats, more than a million of them, living above an enormous guano pile. The sighting of bats, swiftlets, birds and butterflies is virtually guaranteed, with the occasional bonus of small mammals, including orang utan.
Harvesting of the nests is a spectacular and dangerous operations which is only carried out twice per year, usually around March to April and August to September.
Two varieties of swiftlets make edible birth nests. Good quality birds nests can fetch more than US$ 1000 per kilo! Although the visit is more spectacular during nest collection seasons, the lime stone cave is most impressive all year round with sightings of animals and insects.
|World’s biggest bird’s nest
Gomantong Caves, world’s biggest bird’s nest caves, are 45 minutes from Sandakan.
Expert skill is involved as the harvesters climb the bamboo ladder to collect the precious nest of the swiftlet bird, which are used for bird’s-nest soup.
The Gomantong Caves lie about 32 km south of Sandakan, are a home to over one million Edible-nest swiftlets (also called sea swallows). These swiftlets' nests are the famous Chinese delicacy, the edible bird's nest, and are very expensive. Twice a year, February to April and July to September, the bird's nests are harvested by men scaling bamboo ladders.
|photo above : Simud Hitam (Black Cave)
The main cave system is divided into two parts:
1) the more accessible Simud Hitam (Black Cave),
2) the larger Simud Putih (White Cave) above Black Cave.
Cave ceiling reach 90 meters in high. Here produced the less-valuable "black saliva" nests. These "Black Nest" contain both feathers and saliva produced by the black-nest swiftlet species.
Here the more
valuable "white saliva" nests are
by 3 species of more valuable white-nest swiftlet :
1) Collocalia maxima
Here the more valuable "white saliva" nests are produced by 3 species of more valuable white-nest swiftlet :
1) Collocalia maxima
|The Gomantong Caves
are an intricate cave system inside Gomantong Hill in
Lower Kinabatangan area, in the Malaysian state of Sabah.
Access is in the form of a wooden walkway circuiting the interior. Wear a hat when you go.
Located inside Sabah Parks forest reserve, the caves and the surrounding area are a protected area for wildlife such as orangutans.
Investigation of the guano deposits were first made in 1889 by J.H. Allard of the China Borneo Company
The caves were first mapped by P. Orolfo in 1930.
32 km south of Sandakan, home to over one million Edible-nest swiftlets (sea swallows). These swiftlets' nests are the famous Chinese delicacy, the edible bird's nest, and are very expensive.
Twice a year, February to April and July to September, the bird's nests are harvested by men scaling bamboo ladders.
At Gomantong Caves, there are two swiftlet species the black-nest swiftlet and the more valuable white-nest swiftlet (3 species exist - Collocalia maxima, Collocalia fuciphaga and Collocalia germani).
The first collection takes place early in the breeding season before the swiftlets lay their eggs. The birds then make another nest in which they finally lay their eggs. After the young have fledged, the second collection can be made.
The cave is also peopled by thousands of bats which produce an enormous pile of guano shit on which you walk into the cave. Cockroaches are everywhere! Gomantong Hill is the largest limestone outcrop in the Lower Kinabatangan area, and contains at least nine caves of which two caves - Simud Hitam (Black Cave) and Simud Putih (White Cave) - can be visited, Simud Hitam is more easily accessible. Drive all the way to the Information Centre and then walk to the caves.
|Swiftlet nests for bird's
The most valuable of the nests, the white nest , can sell for US$2,000 per kilograms.
|Birds' nest Harvesting
The birds' nest collection is an ancient tradition of the local people, and the trading of these nests has been done since at least 500 AD.
Twice a year, date decided by Wildlife Department of Sabah, locals collectors with licenses climb to the roof of the caves, using only rattan ladders, ropes, and bamboo poles, and collect the nests.
The first collection takes place early in the breeding season before the swiftlets lay their eggs. The birds then make a second to replace the missing nest in which they finally lay their eggs. Only after the young have fledged, the second collection is made.
Care must be taken to assure that the nests are collected only after the young swiftlets have abandoned these nests. These new generation of young birds are very much in demand by the local people that hold the Government's harvesting licenses.
Edible birds' nests are protected under the Birds' Nest Ordinance and the Forest Enactment of 1968. Heavy fines and penalties are imposed on unlicensed collectors.
|Bats in Gomantong
Every evening, over 2 million resident bats spiral out for their evening feed. As the bats leave, the swiftlets are usually beginning to make their way back to the caves after a day's foraging. There are also bat hawks that linger not far from the scene and prey specifically on the bats as they leave their roost.
Some vVisitors do not go into the cave as the whole place buzzes with insects.
The cave system is home to many other animals, including massive populations of cockroaches and bats. Outside one can see crested serpent eagles, kingfishers, and Asian fairy bluebirds.
|The Road to Gomantong
The Gomantong limestone caves are the source for the swiflets' nests that the soup is made of.
20 Km off Lahad Datu-Tawau Highway junction to turn left Sukau Highway(road to Sukau Village). Then right turn 5 km south off Sukau Highway