Just half an hour’s drive from Kuching, Wind Cave at Bau meanders through a rocky outcrop on the banks of the Sarawak River. You can wander on a plankwalk from one side of the outcrop to the other and see the stalactites and stalagmites that have formed over millennia. You will need a flashlight. After visiting the cave, you can take a cooling river swim. An extensive car park allows visitors to drive right up to the cave entrance.
Not far from Wind Cave is the Fairy Cave, located 8 km away. A flight of concrete steps lead up to the cave entrance high in a limestone cliff. Like Wind Cave, there are plankwalks to help visitors explore the passage. The cliff face also holds some outdoor adventure. Batman Wall managed by the local community is popular with rock climbers with overhangs and routes of varying degrees of difficulty.
Flora and Fauna
The Wind Cave’s has been gazetted as a nature reserve not just to protect the cave and its inhabitants, but also to conserve a number or rare species in the surrounding limestone forest. Amongst the small to medium sized trees and shrubs are some very rare palms, including Arenga pinnata (called Inyok in the local Bidayuh language), Arenga undulatifolia (Opip in Bidayuh) and the gigantic Calamus ornatus (Wi jelayan in Bidayuh).
Squirrels, shrews and a variety of birds can be found along the river and the limestone hill. Black nest swiftlets can be seen and heard inside the cave, as well as 14 species of bat. Twelve distinct species of snail have also evolved in the caves and the covering hill, each unique to its own limestone habitat.
If birds are your interest, more than 190 species live at Bako, including some rare varieties. The birds and animals are easy to find along the 18 colour-coded walking trails that offer full-day jungle hikes to gentle strolls. The circular Lintang trail passes through all of Bako’s vegetation types from dipterocarp forest, scrub-like padang, swamp forest,mangroves and delicate cliff vegetation. The Telok Delima and Telok Paku trails are the best vantage points for seeing proboscis monkeys in the early morning or late afternoon.
The Wind Cave is believed to have got its name from the cooling breeze blowing continuously through the cave. It a smooth, tubular limestone cave formed during the Jurrassic-Cretaceous period, roughly 60 million years ago. Excavations by early explorers such as Beccari in 1865 have shown that the Wind Cave was inhabited until recent times. Earthenware vessels, charcoal and pieces of marine and freshwater shells were found. The deep pits within the cave may have been made by gold prospectors in the 1930’s.
A 1000-metre plankwalk runs throughout the length of the cave, so it is easy and safe to explore, although the interior of the cave is unlit and therefore a flashlight is essential. A small stream meanders through the cave and joins the Sungai Sarawak Kanan at the northern end. The main cave passages are wide with flat roofs, while the smaller passages form an irregular network in the northern section of the cave.
The Wind Cave’s main features include stalagmites, stalactites, and pillars which form when these two join together. Other features include conical cavities separated by blade-like pinnacles of limestone, limestone pendants hanging from the roof of the cave passage, and current scallops which have a honeycomb appearance and indicate the direction of the water flow.
Throughout the length of the cave, the high-pitched squeaking of thousands of bats can be heard, including a number of insect-eating species, as well as a large population of Dusky Fruit Bats. There are also thousands of Black Nest Swiftlets nesting in the cave, and their nests, made almost entirely from the swiftlets’ glutinous saliva, can be seen adhering to the nooks and crannies of the upper cave wall.
At the end of the cave passage, the plankwalk emerges onto the hillside and a path leads down to the bank of the Sungai Sarawak Kanan, one of the two major tributaries of the Sarawak River. There is a narrow sandy beach along the river bank, with public changing rooms, so this is the perfect place to swim and cool off after visiting the cave. There is also a picnic area and some stalls selling snacks and drinks.