If you’re planning your Kinabatangan River trip or looking for the Sukau Caves, then I bet that you’re already thinking about the Gomantong Caves. However, did you know that there is another epic Kinabatangan Caves system right near the river village of Sukau?
Located walking distance from the popular Kinabatangan River cruise village of Sukau, the cave trail leads through dense rainforest along a path carved out by elephants. This means as I found out, that you have to be particularly careful to avoid any territorial wildlife that calls the Sukau jungle home.
Sukau on the Kinabatangan River
For those looking to spend a little bit of time exploring the Kinabatangan River and to make the most of the incredible wildlife river cruises from here, then chances are you’ll be staying in Sukau.
The village itself is quite small and positioned along the banks of the river itself. There are no ATMs or supermarkets here, so you’ll need to prepare. To help you, I’ve written a detailed blog on how to get here, where to stay and what to expect.
Other Kinabatangan Cave and River Cruise Option
If you’d prefer to visit the larger Gomantong Caves, then you can book a cave and river cruise tour online. I didn’t do this option since I decided to stay in Sukau over a few days. However, if you’d prefer a hotel pickup and a guided tour from Sandakan, then you can book this trip for under $90.
Also, if you’re looking for more information about the Gomantong Caves, then you might find this detailed blog useful.
INTERESTED IN RIVER CRUISES INDEPENDENTLY? READ THIS BLOG.
How to Find the Sukau Caves
Of course, you can organize a driver or guide from Sukau to go to Gomantong Caves. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a day to spare. So instead, I set out to explore the elephant trail leading to the Sukau Caves, as directed by my lodge owner.
You’ll find the start of the trail at the very end of the road in Sukau, heading downstream. The official name of the area is called Tomanggong Limestone Area and you’ll find the start of the trail pinned under that name on Google Maps.
The best advice is just to follow the road downstream all the way past the lodges and small restaurants.
Once you reach a house that looks like it’s the end of the road, just walk under the small makeshift bridge. Then, continue through the patch of palms and eventually cross a wooden plank leading into the jungle.
Elephant Trail Hike From Sukau – Tomanggong Limestone Area
Hike Distance: 8 KM return;
Total Length: 2-3 hours;
Hike Difficulty: Easy, but can be very wet and swampy.
As I mentioned previously, the trail has been carved out by local Pygmy elephants who roam the jungle area near the Kinabatangan Caves and river. As a result, the trail winds around and cuts back on itself several times, forcing you to cross deep sections of mud.
Overall, the trail is fairly flat, and you’ll find small red and pink ribbons tied onto the trees which lead the way to the Sukau Caves. My advice is to keep an eye out for the tags and ribbons because it’s pretty easy to get lost.
As you approach the cave, you’ll need to follow the trail up the hill a little, revealing a huge cavern opening.
However, you will definitely need to be careful. Growing up in Australia, I tend to forget about the wildlife hazards other than those of the venomous variety. Consequently, the outcome of the hike could have been much worse if I had unknowingly and innocently wandered into a pack of angry boars or a territorial bull elephant.
Truth is, we did run into a pack of boars and were chased by them. Read the bottom section for the story.
What to Expect at the Kinabatangan Caves
The hike itself is very beautiful, passing through the dense and damp jungle interior that you might expect of Borneo.
The Sukau cave itself has two main caverns. By the looks of it, it also descends deeper underground. There are bats everywhere in the main cavern, so you’ll need to be prepared for that if you’re a bit squeamish.
Chased By Wild Boars
Yep. These things were monsters. If you haven’t seen a Bornean wild boar before, I’ll ask you to google an image of it. The thing is fierce and super scary looking when it’s staring you down, grunting through the bushes in the thick of a swampy jungle.
Although we found the caves, we were forced to run away from an angry and territorial boar on the way back. Luckily, we both lived to tell the hilarious but in hindsight, lucky tale of our great Sukau Caves boar escape.
More Photographs of the Sukau Caves and Trail
Here are some more photos that we took along the trail to the Sukau Caves (Kinabatangan Caves).
If you decide to take the hike, let me know by posting a quick comment below.