Have you ever heard of the famous Sabah cave system called Gomantong Caves in Sandakan? When you are doing your Sandakan tour, you must not miss a visit to the magnificent Gomantong Caves! The Gomantong Caves is the largest cave system in all of Sabah. The Gomantong Caves is located deep within a hill called Gomantong Hill, which happens to be the largest limestone outcrop in Sandakan.
What is Gomantong Caves in Sandakan famous for? Gomantong Caves is well renowned throughout Sabah for its swiftlet nest. People have been harvesting this edible bird nest in Gomantong Caves for centuries to make bird’s nest soup. Chinese traders in Sandakan have been coming to the Gomantong Caves in Sandakan since the 13th century to harvest the bird’s nest. Gomantong Caves in Sandakan is home to over a million of swiftlets. You can really imagine how much bird’s nest you can get from this beautiful Sabah cave! The WWF have described the Gomantong Caves as being the most well managed edible bird’s nests cave in the world.
Within the Gomantong Caves system are two caves complexes known as Simud Hitam and the larger Simud Putih. These two Sabah caves are the places where people would go and harvest the bird’s nests. If you explore these wondrous caves, you will have the chance to see how bird’s nests are harvested. The harvesting of bird’s nests in Gomantong Caves takes place twice a year around the months of March to April and August to September. If you are lucky enough to be here in Gomantong Caves in Sandakan during these months, you will be able to observe men scaling ladders to harvest the bird’s nests that are located 100m up the ceiling. It does really look like a dangerous job, isn’t it?
The Simud Hitam and Simud Putih caves within the Gomantong Caves system refer to the type of bird’s nests that could be found here. You can find black bird’s nests in the more accessible Simud Hitam Cave. This majestic cave extends up to 90 metres in height. You can also observe the delightful wildlife such as kingfishers, serpent eagles and bat hawks inhabiting this cave. If you want to experience a more challenging cave tour then you should go to Simud Putih Cave where the more expensive white bird’s nests can be found. Due to the more hazardous path to this cave, you will have to obtain special permission before coming here. It would take you five hours’ worth of trekking to reach Simud Putih Cave. You would also need to take a steep half an hour’s climb up before you arrive here. Simud Putih is larger than Simud Hitam is. If you thought Simud Hitam looks majestic, the sight of Simud Putih will blow you away!
If you are embarking on your Sandakan tour, the Gomantong Caves system is definitely one place you must not miss on your itinerary. After seeing the dangerous but exciting bird’s nests harvesting activity in this Sabah cave system, you would find in hard to question why the price for this rare delicacy is so high!