Gomantong Cave – Sandakan, Malaysia - Atlas Obscura
Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

Sandakan, Malaysia

Gomantong Cave

In this Borneo cave, it's not the thousands of bats you need to worry about, it's the blankets of roaches. 

Like many caves around the world, Gomantong Cave on the island of Borneo is home to millions of bats, but it’s the horrific numbers of cockroaches and parasites that live in the cave’s guano deposits that make it seem like something out of Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom.

Located within Gomantong Hill, the cave system is made up of two primary chambers, the Black Cave and the White Cave. A number of species live within the large, 300-foot-tall caverns including swiftlets, whose highly valued nests (bird’s nest soup, anyone?) are collected by locals via precarious bamboo ladders and poles. There are also hundreds of thousands of Wrinkle Lipped Free-tailed bats living in the upper reaches of the cave. Their nightly exodus from the cave mouth is a popular site for visitors.

What is less popular, at least for those looking for unvarnished rain forest beauty, is the hundred foot tall pile of guano that has developed inside the cave. The giant pile of sh… uprisingly lively dung has attracted a teeming population of cockroaches and parasites. There are so many roaches in the caves that they can be seen climbing the walls in droves, making the cave a truly creepy dive.

The cave can be accessed by a wooden walkway that leads visitors down into the bat-and-roach-infested wonderland. The question is, do you have the stomach for it?