Gua Tempurung Limestone Caverns
Gua Tempurung translates as “Shell Grotto” in Malay. The name is appropriate because it is most certain that there are seashell remnants lodged in the cavern walls. Gua Tempurung is located about 24 kilometers from Ipoh. Therefore, it is only a short drive from the city center.
Ipoh is located in Perak State and it is the 3rd largest city in Malaysia. Unfortunately, Ipoh appears to be the victim of a shrinking population although there is still lots to see and do in the area.
Entrance of Gua Tempurung
Geological Origin of the Gua Tempurung
The Gua Tempurung caverns are comprised of marble and limestone which indicates that their origination was at the bottom of the ocean. This is because limestone is made up of seashells that have been subjected to intense metamorphic processes. The heat and intense pressure transforms these seabed fragments into limestone. Furthermore, over time when subjected to additional metamorphic process limestone is transformed into marble. This indicates that the limestone and marble formations are millions of years old. However, it appears that the caverns were originally discovered by sentient life about 10 thousand years ago, in 8000 BCE.
When exposed to regular flows of water, limestone is very malleable in geologic terms. This means that the water will wash away the calcium which creates the caverns and the magnificent stalactites and stalagmites. These formations at Gua Tempurung are magnificent. As a result, some of them have taken on shapes of humans and monsters. It is really quite dramatic!
FYI – Stalactites form from water dripping from the top of the cave and therefore grow from the ceiling. The water drops leave behind calcium deposits which accumulate over thousands of years. Stalagmites form from the bottom of the cave where the water drops land. To put things into geologic perspective, keep in mind that these formations take about 1000 years to grow 10 centimeters!
There are 4 tour options offered at Gua Tempurung:
- Golden Flowstone Tour – 40 minutes
- Top of the World Tour – 1.75 hours
- Top of the World and Short River Adventure – 2.5 hours
- Gua Tempurung Grand Tour – 3.5 hours
Options 3 and 4 involve getting wet so we elected to go with option 2 the “Top of the World Tour”. Perhaps we can return another time to do the Gua Tempurung Grand Tour!
However, we were in for a nice surprise because they actually let us do the “Top of the World Tour” self guided. This was unexpected because their website indicates the guide service is compulsory. Although it was a nice surprise because this would have been our preference anyway.
Another nice surprise worth mentioning is the “wind tunnel” cave at platform 4. As a result, we were able to cool off before climbing to the top of the world because there was a nice cool breeze blowing through the cave!
Gua Tempurung Platform 5 “Top of the World”
The top of the world platform is the final platform that is also the ultimate top of the cave. Previously, we had passed through 5 enormous domes shaped like coconut shells. This was the last one. Also, this was the turn around point for our tour option.
However, from here if we were to continue there was a long dark stairway descending into what I suspect was the bottom of the world! Haha, actually this is where the tour option 3 and 4 would descend down to the 1.6 kilometer river at the base of the cave. However, that is the Gua Tempurung grand tour and we will save it for another day.
View from the “Top of the World”
Gua Tempurung Entrance Fee 2017
One aspect of the tour that was slightly annoying was that the Gua Tempurung entrance fee 2017 was actually 30 ringgit for adults. However, if you have a Malaysian MyKad ID then you can get in for less than half price. Additionally, the information we found online indicated the Gua Tempurung entrance fee 2017 was actually 9 ringgit! Unfortunately, my Malaysian drivers license does not substitute for a MyKad!
For the top of the world tour there are 5 platforms and the pathway is well light. In addition, there are handrails so everything is fairly simple and very safe. The distance to platform 5 is about 1.9 kilometers and there are 640 steps. It was mildly strenuous and certainly nothing to be concerned about.