Gua Kelam translates as Dark Cave but the Malay name will be used to avoid confusion with another Dark Cave at Batu Caves.
The caves of Gua Kelam are located at the top end of Perlis, about as far north as you can drive in Malaysia, a few kilometers from the Thai border.
There are two caves open to the public at this site.
The first cave, unfortunately closed at the time of the visit, has a boardwalk used as a shortcut by local villagers walking from Kaki Bukit to Wang Kelian.
The second cave is accessed via a modern building but was closed to the public at the time as the trolley train used to enter the cave was out-of-service.
This was a real blow! After driving all that distance, both caves were closed.
The next attempt at sightseeing involved a hike up the steep path leading to the Lookout Point above the caves.
After a long and sweaty climb, you will reach a viewing terrace but the view was mostly obscured by trees.
This was not actually the top but the steps did not go much further before petering out.
So this was also a waste of time apart from discovering this unusual lizard with pink spikes. Anybody know what it is called? If it is unknown to science, why not call it the Punk Rocker Lizard?
Upon reaching the bottom of the steps though, a worker said he could arrange a private tour (for a fee and with a guide) of Gua Kelam 2, that involved walking along the 400 meter train track to get inside.
The height of the tunnel is a little too low for an average adult to walk upright so the hard hat worn grazed the roof on a number of occasions.
At the end of the tunnel, along paths and up steps through a number of caverns were impressive limestone curtain formations and remains of tin mining activity which took place during the middle decades of the 20th century.
Normally, this cave is used for adventure caving which entails climbing up ladders and wading through water before emerging an hour later at a separate exit higher up the valley. That part of the cave was closed off during at the time of the visit.
Apparently the train service was suspended after a group of boisterous youths rocked the train while in motion and managed to uncouple the carriages from the loco which could have led to a serious accident.
Safety reviews will have to be completed before the service is resumed.
In front of the caves is a landscaped area alongside a river which is known as the Gua Kelam Recreational Park. It is a picturesque and relaxing spot but signs remind couples not to get too romantic whilst there!
The caves are managed by the Perlis Forestry Department.
Jabatan Perhutanan Negeri Perlis
Km 2, Jalan Kaki Bukit, 01000 Kangar, Perlis Malaysia.
Tel: 04-9776626, 04-9765966
Email : [email protected]
This article first appeared in malaysia-traveller.com