sign in a cave in Laos

1 July 2012

Bewah & Taat caves, Kenyir, Terengganu

In November 1999 I went to Tasik Kenyir in Terengganu to survey some caves. I went with cavers from the Malaysian Nature Society. We had been invited by Ketengah to look at the caves with a view to them being developed for tourism.

Since our visit, Ketengah (Terengganu Tengah Development Authority) has come up with various ideas to improve tourism and develop Kenyir Lake.

Tasik Kenyir is the largest man-made lake in Southeast Asia. The area was flooded between 1978 and 1985 as part of a hydro electric scheme.

After flooding many of the hilltops and highlands remained above water level, creating about 340 man-made islands.

Before the creation of the lake there were several caves and some of archaeological importance. However after flooding most were lost underwater.

There are 2 caves still accessible and these have been developed for tourism. Gua Bewah is the largest and is located in Bukit Bewah. Gua Taat is nearby. Both are located at the southern end of the lake.
Our visit started at Pengkalan Gawai (Gawai jetty) which is the main gateway to Tasik Kenyir.
We loaded our equipment and supplies onto a houseboat,

but we travelled by speedboat for a fast ride of 70 minutes to Bukit Bewah.

Bukit Bewah and the area to the south is actually within Taman Negara, the national park. We went to have a look at the back (west side) of the hill before going back around to Gua Bewah on the east side.
The floating jetty at Gua Bewah was sitting on top of a large rock, presumably left there are some high water levels. From the boat we could smell the guano in the cave. It was quite a hike up all the steps to the entrance about 40 m up the hill.
Old sacks of guano showed that people used to enter the cave to collect guano, and the sacks on the floor made a convenient staircase. The cave is basically one huge chamber. At the back is another big chamber and a pitch down but would need bolting. There was the remains of electric lighting. We surveyed the cave, it is only about 150 m long.

The archaeological digs are in the left corner of the entrance.

We could hear the bats but they were too high to see. Other fauna included lots of crickets, large huntsman spiders, large cockroaches with a blue end and some large crabs.

Gua Taat is in the hill across from Bewah and has 2 entrances.
The main entrance was reached by a wooden step ladder which would be underwater during high water levels. The entrance is quite small and low and the cave floods easily. Again there are archaeological pits in the floor by the entrance. The cave was first dug in 1959.

A passage with flat roof leads to a second entrance. There was no cave fauna.
We had a quick look at Gua Taat 2 which is basically a rock shelter.

On our caving days we used a small speedboat to get to the caves
and this was our houseboat
We slept in chalets at Tanjung Mentong.


Since our visit in 1999 there have been many plans for Kenyir. Gua Bewah has now been more developed for tourism. See my friend Jan's photos from June 2012.

See more on cave archaeology at Kenyir, including the remains of Bewah Man found in 2010.

© Liz Price

No reproduction without permission

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