Gunung Mulu is one of two National Parks in Malaysia that are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with the other being the far more traveled Kinabalu National Park. It contains dozens of caves comprising one of the top ten longest cave systems in the world (215 km long) and possibly the largest by volume. On top of its impressive caves is a forest (530 square kms) with enough flora (3,500 species) and fauna (21,000 species) to keep nature lovers (especially insect lovers) pleased for days on end.
The 2.5 million strong “bat exodus” every night is as fantastic as it sounds and even if you’re expecting it, nothing quite prepares you for an hour long stream of bats of over a dozen species gushing out of Deer Cave to consume 30,000 kilos of bugs a night.
Enough with the numbers though, here is my not so technical evaluation: It is freakin’ mind-blowing. The best time to go is yesterday, but the second best time is now!
[The following is a guest post from a fellow UNESCO fanatic named Jordan Adkins (his bio and blog link is at the bottom). I found his entries very fascinating (especially #3) so I hope you enjoy them as well. If you would also like to contribute your top 5 UNESCO sites and are a fellow travel blogger, shoot me an email: maximuz04 (at) gmail.com]
Have you ever visited a tourist site and thought it looked better in pictures? Or arrived only to be overwhelmed by hordes in tourist buses? I feel your pain! Global tourism is booming, and yet everyone seems to go to those same few places…Eiffel Tower, Colosseum, Statue of Liberty. Now this is not without good reason but we have a huge planet out there to explore. There must be somewhere we can have a little time and reflection to ourselves? Well yes there is … there are over 1000 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, most of which have very few visitors, and are spread out all over the globe. I myself have been to 200+ so far and want to help people explore the lesser-known gems. So I put together a list, from my experiences so far, of 5 Amazingly Un-touristy World Heritage Sites! Hope you enjoy, and are inspired to visit more yourself!
#1 of 5 Amazingly Untouristy World Heritage Sites:
The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum in Malta
The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum (underground cemetery) was only found in 1902 during residential construction in Malta. Little did the workers know they had stumbled upon an enormous subterranean structure which was originally excavated in 2500 B.C.. Little is known of the incredible neolithic find other that its construction at the time was unparalleled with any other known developments on earth. Huge blocks of coralline limestone where lifted into place to create this ancient space, which was originally a sanctuary, but then became a necropolis in prehistoric times. Today it is one of the treasures of Malta and strictly guarded. Only 10 people are allowed in per hour on a limited guided tour (to prevent excess carbon dioxide and air humidity damaging the rock paintings), with no back-packs, cameras or other items. These guys are serious, and tickets sell out months in advance but WOW…It is worth it! Not to be missed!
The United States is hands down one of the most amazing places to travel. As the third largest country in the world by size and population, adrenaline junkies, road trip lovers, popular culture aficionados, and even those who are looking for places off the grid will never ever be ‘done.’ This list focuses on that last bit, as I too am a big fan of finding places ‘off the beaten path’ which give me a sense of, ‘hey I did something not often done.’ I am trusting you dear reader, to not ruin these places for me as they are some of my favorites!
When thinking of a cultural getaway, South Korea is often overlooked. As of late though, UNESCO has taken notice and in this year’s meeting, it has been granted yet another World Heritage Site to this tiny country. This bumps its total count to 12, making it one of the most World Heritage Site dense countries in the world. Yeah, I made that term up, but its true! Let’s take a brief look at all of them and hopefully it will convince you to leap ahead of the tourism bandwagon and book your flight to Seoul. As a bonus, I also added some pro tips to maximize your experience at each one.
Te Wahipounamu includes the four national parks of Fiordland (home of Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound), Mt. Cook, Mt. Aspiring, and Westland. Spanning 26,000 square kilometers, it is 1/10th the size of New Zealand, or roughly the size of Vermont. Calling it ‘massive’ is a bit of an understatement, and declaring it to be ‘impressive’ does not even begin to describe what a National Geographesque spectacle it is to your unprepared eyes. Call it the Angkor or Machu Picchu of nature. Yes, it is THAT good… and I never thought I’d say it… maybe even better. Read more →