The limestone caves of Gombak hosts the tourist famous Batu caves and the conservation grounds of the dark caves. The dark cave adventure hence begins…
This was an educational tour we thoroughly enjoyed. We have been to multiple cave experiences in and out of Malaysia but never a total dark one.
It was quite on an impulse that we decided to try out this exciting path of the dark caves. Since it was a holiday season, the slots for the dark caves tour were getting booked soon so we had a bit of a wait. Here is a tip to avoid the long wait. Book your slot as you go up to the main cave with the shrine, giving yourself a half an hour to 45 minutes to explore the cathedral caves and the ornate temples inside Batu caves. Then decend towards the dark caves perfect in time for your slot.
The dark caves are truly worth the wait, with exquisite stalactite and stalagmite formations that lay hidden but for the faint light up of the flashlight.
Discovered in 1878, by Captain H. C. Syers and William T. Hornaday, this is one of the largest researched tropical caves in the world.
The dark caves tour begins at the small counter and waiting area about three fourth way up to Batu Caves. A big board greet you there along with a chatter of monkeys. Book your slot make your payment and wait till the timings are called. While waiting familiarise yourself with the displays which give brief pointers about the ecosystem, the fauna and their adaptations.
The conservation officer who guides the tour will hand you your helmet (cleaned after each tour) and a torchlight. With a briefing on the rules.
The tour of 850 meters takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. It begins at the lighted cave with a really big cave mouth. Knowing that from time and ago the limestone deposits were the remain on the sea creatures which emerged as the sea receded, it was interesting to note that the cave inside will be as old as a 100 million years or more.
With erosion slowly exposing the inner chambers it must have been a pretty exciting exploration for the earlier cave diggers (gives me goosebumps)
The cave mouth greeted us with shades of brown and green which progressed quickly to a grey-black interior with a faint odour of bat excrement(guano) which supports the entire ecosystem inside. The insectivores and frugivorous bats that made this their home are responsible for the life of all other creatures here. The life cycle completes with a predator for the bats the “mudsliding viper.”
We followed our guide with shimmering flashlights below eye level to reach out first stop point peering over each other excitedly we watched the surrounding hoping to see a new insect or animal. Little did we know we stood in the cockroach cavern. With thousands of these dinosaur aged creatures making it their living hole. All the peering stopped and we all shrunk back…
We proceeded forward spotting the long-legged centipede speeding over the rocks and spotting banded leg spiders till the end of the twilight zone. Through the out, the area with all growth rate of 2 cms over 70 years the stalactites and stalagmites create beautiful formations like Cave curtains, cave petals, flowstones and scallops. two km long route, protected by Malaysian nature society. Slowly proceed to a pitch black cave region where the light has absolutely no way of reaching. It was a surreal experience listening to the sounds around you without any support from your vision. Knowing that the dwellers of this zone are literally blind.
It was with mystical Wonder we cooled down at the cave winds towards the latter part of the cave surrounded by white layers of forming rocks and little pools of gathered seeped in water.
As the cave opened up at the far end to a light-filled zone through an opening on the cave Top, the colours change back to browns and greens.
The dark cave was a phenomenal experience as one of your senses take over the now absent. As this happens a keen sound sense alerts you to the minutest sounds you can hear. Right at the eriee moment, you do feel the vulnerability of the ecosystem that exists.
The guide and the education through the tour were excellent. For a moderate level effort path the dark caves was an out of the world experience.
How to reach
The easiest way we recommend is to take the KTM train to Batu Caves. There is a train approximately every 20 to 30 minutes from KLSentral station.
You could take the bus or a cab too to come to the base of Batu Caves.
The admission fee is RM35 for adults and RM25 for children below 12.
For the adventure tour book in a week. Before with minimum 10 adults and prepare for crawling and mud sliding through the caves.
Attire and reminders
Wear comfortable shoes for hiking as there are patches of slippery water areas in between.
It is preferable to wear longer close-fitting clothes. To enter the stair climb that leads both to Batu caves and the dark caves you are required to wear long clothes or carry a wrap.
It can be pretty hot and humid, so take care of water needs well.
The access is not wheelchair friendly.
For adventure tours, wear comfortable fully covered clothes which are not too loose and prepared to get wet. Carry a change of clothes, changing and showing facilities available
Travelling with children
Though a unique experience, smaller children may find it a bit difficult as it is quite dark. Keep them close to you.
Older ones find it adventurous and exciting.
The caves can be humid and sweaty.
Carry some snack bars and water.
Strollers are not allowed to will have to be left at the base of the climb.
Small children cannot go on the adventure tour.
It was an on the spur of the moment decision to head to the dark caves on our way back from the Batu Caves ( read here for more details)
One we thank our intuitive streak for!!
We enjoyed the nature’s best even when darkness engulfs.
Read more on our cave adventures through more Asian countries
This brings back memories to the time I was in Malaysia in 2005 and visited the caves. You have explained it neatly in this blog post.
I am sure this would have been a really unique experience, as long as one doesn’t get a feeling of suffocation, I think I would love to experience it. Darkness doesn’t scare me as such, but just the creepy feelings of insects and all also makes me cringe
Wow!!! So gorgeous! I cannot wait to travel here.
I hope you do soon. It is really beautiful.
Yes, it is really cool.
Thanks for putting in the tips to travel with kids. The limestone caves are always so exciting. These look stunning, inspite of the dark. I am sure they are the fodder for the adventurous soul. I plan to go to Meghalaya in India in a couple of months and there are similar caves there that I aspire to visit, along with my kid
I mostly travel with kids and can relate to the difficulties. Megalaya is amazing. Have a great trip.
I truly love spelunking, and just like you, I’ve visited several caves in the past, and this dark caves is truly interesting and would love to traipse my feet here and explore all what it has to offer. I love that you were able to capture all the species inside the cave, which makes it an exciting adventure to try. I will surely include this in my itinerary if I visit Malaysia soon. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
If you love the adventure please book ahead and do the full length, we were not prepared ahead and hence missed that chance.