I’ve never been to a place for which photos do so little justice as the Fairy Caves in Kuching, Borneo.
At some point during the planning of my Borneo trip I came across these caves and, along with the Bako National Park, they became the main reason I flew to Kuching for a few days. Information about them was sparse and, other than a handful of blog posts, I could barely figure out how to get to them. Compared to the famous Mulu caves in Sarawak, the (much smaller) Fairy Caves lived in relative obscurity. Which was exactly why I wanted to see them.
After traipsing through the jungle for two days and seeing the famously odd-looking proboscis monkeys in Bako, I stayed at a cute little hostel in the heart of Kuching. Another girl in my dorm room struck up a conversation and we became fast friends. She and her two travel buddies decided to join me in finding the caves and I was thrilled to not have to go wandering alone through dark caves in the middle of nowhere.
We took an hour bus ride into the countryside and into a little village, where we found a cab and asked him to drive us out to the Fairy caves. There turned out to be another set of caves along the way, The Wind Caves, which we stopped at first. These caves were a long, winding tunnel through giant rocks. A wooden walkway had been erected to make passage through the tunnels easier, but once inside it was pitch black.
Although we didn’t see any other people in the caves, we weren’t alone: hundreds of thousands of bats lined the walls and ceilings. They squeaked in a great chorus of chirps that sounded like little rubber toys. Shining the flashlight up we could see the bats hanging and fluttering amongst themselves. I actually find bats to be really cute, so I loved it! My only concern was falling guano, but I managed to walk out with a clean head…
About ten minutes down the road we came to the Fairy Caves. These caves are found about four stories high into the side of a mountain, so an industrial staircase had been built to climb up the face of the wall. You could see old stairs carved into the rocks winding their way up the treacherously steep hillside that people must have climbed before the new stairs were built.
Once we reached the entrance, we walked up a set of stairs that made their way into the cave but then made a sharp right turn and immediately stopped. From here, there is a ladder that you must climb up through a dark crevice between two boulders at a dizzying angle. But once you make your way through and stand up, a simple turn of the head will take your breath away.
Words can’t do this place justice any more than pictures can. The cave was huge, with stalactites drooping from the great high ceilings, and rays of sunlight streaming in through the mouth of the cave to the right.
Delicate layers of green fenrs draped across the walls and floor, and the sounds of dripping water echoed throughout the cave. Several sets of stairs carved their way through the greenery and at the top of the cave were the Fairy statues that people pray to, and for which the caves were named (even though it would be easy to believe fairies really lived here). It honestly felt straight out of Fern Gully (any 90s kid’s dream come true, obvi).
What made the Fairy Caves so magical was the peaceful atmosphere. We saw only a handful of other people while we were there, and the combined solitude and magnificence of the place left us in sheer awe. Although I hope others have the chance to experience this incredible place, I would rather the Fairy Caves remain unknown and continue to retain their mystical atmosphere. In that case I suppose I shouldn’t really be sharing it, but considering it’s such a remote place (you’re probably wondering, wait, where’s Borneo again??), chances of it ever becoming a tourist hot spot are slim. Which is exactly how it should be.
Have you ever been to an amazing place that you loved but hoped would stay unknown?