Madai Caves Trip

Posted: November 13, 2007 in Jalan-Jalan


Trip to Madai caves was really spookyinteresting.. This massive Madai caves raises from 250 metres from the forest floor and it was one of Sabah’s most important archaeological sites. Madai caves was like a home to thousands of bats since hundreds of years ago and it has been well known for generations among the locals for its supplies of bird nests. This generation comes from the Idahan peoples who has been harvested and they have earned the right for collecting all the nests since 20 generation now.


Madai caves is located at Tawau division of Sabah..


between Lahad Datu and Tawau on the East Coast of Sabah. It can be easily located until you can reach to its mouth by driving from the main road about 1.5km.


The view from a nearby village..


Before you reach to the cave, You’ll find there’s a small village outside the caves and you need to passed this village who have lived there since about 100 years ago and they are also the keeper of the bird nests. They also offering a place to stay for nests collectors only during the harvest season.


The path walkaway through the village.


Another macnificent view from the village.. at this time, the weather was just nice and very soothing feeling.


This the main entrance to go inside the main cave.


Lucky they have stairs otherwise it would be very hard to get up since the height till you reach the main entrance is about 100 metres up.


But we’re not up yet where the guide (named Eddy) brought us to the south part where he claims that the place where the foot print of the original founder was spotted.



It was the great of the great ancestor of the Idahan people who first found the cave and later lived here and excercise their magic power in traditional medical expertise.


If you see it clearly on the surface, the foot print sure exist.


Can you see it..


this smaller footprint claims to be the son’s footprint.


The view from the side


Harvest season where the legal collectors to collect the nests which held every twice a year between February and April and also between July and September.


There’s also an unwanted graviti art available here inside.


drawn by the not so talented people but really not a responsible person.


It was quiet dark inside eventhough some lights from the sun came in from some of the openings and can you just imagine when night time comes.. total darkness!!


The villagers claimed that they have seen many things inside the cave that people would dare not to see, something like a small little green creature aka Toyol


The one that have witness most are the people who temporary lived inside the cave as a guardian to the bird nest. Since one bird nest can cost you around US$1,500.00 per kilo, they are also theif who would love to stole the nest ans sale it with twice the price, but it was said that whoever stole the bird’s nests then they will get sick and soon will be death.


There are two types of birds nest available, the black and the white one which is more damn expensive compare to the black nest. One thing for sure when you step inside the cave was.. you’ll get an exiciting feelings where you can smell the nature obviously!… the bird drop of course.


Next.. after I’ve finished took my deep breath for 100 metres stairs, then our guide of the day, Mr. Eddy (still single) brought us up to the main cave and walk through this amazing path..


..until we reach into this part where there’s few wooden houses for the guardians stayed to make sure all the bird nest are kept safely.


Our guide Eddy would love to bring us into deeper level, where this are the entrance where you’ll find lots of bird nest kept, but we didn’t continue the journey further inside since it was total darkness since the openings are only 300 metres away.


So we hangout for few minutes while Eddy keep telling us his stories + histories + legends behind the cave. Eddy also mention that, one famous 50’s Malaysian actor+director+singer, P. Ramlee also have come and experience the cave before but then he died after the visit and had a physical contact with one of the Idahan people who lived here.. Not sure but I think there’s somethin fishy with Eddy’s stories.


and this is the grave of the original founder called ‘Nenek Apui’ aka Grandma Apui. Actually Nenek Apui’s grave have been digged long time ago to get the bones and now been placed and displayed at the Kota Kinabalu National Museum.


A creepy look for those penakut.. but it’s a macnificent view for those nature me.


This is how the bird nest collector get their nest during the harvest season, risk their lives climbing to the roof of these caves using only rattan ladders, ropes, and bamboo poles. The collectors are actually only reserved for the Idahan peoples.. and this has been practice since about many years ago. So..if you want to get married with the Idahan people, make sure they have their own spot booked up there.


and now it’s time to go home.. way down we go.

Just one thing I would like to share with you guys if planning to go here.. get a flashlight, a good one!


one last shot for some sweet spooky memories in Madai Caves.

  1. 3POINT8 says:

    Madai caves…. Looks very beautiful!
    I’ll sure to go to that place the next time I’m in sabah!

  2. Jewelle says:

    We missed this when we drove to Tawau. We only drop by this one cave which has coffins inside – lupa sudah nama dia – preblogging and predigital camera times.

    Madai Caves look very interesting and spooky too. Great post 🙂

  3. esharkj says:

    Yah! Don’t miss it, especially during between Feb + April and between July + Sept, you’ll witness how the collectors get their nests.There’s one more in Sandakan, Gomantong caves.

    Thanks for the credits.. Pity you’ve missed it!
    The one got coffin inside I think it’s probably Bantuong caves, it’s been almost 18,000 thousand of years since man discovered bout it..

  4. Kay Kastum says:

    So…indak kau menyinggah di Kunak kah boss? Makan pisang sanggar kah…ambik la kau dua tiga kompek.. 😛

  5. papajoneh says:

    Alamak.. bestnye tempat ni. My kind of traveling. Yg bikin best lagi ni…. yg ada cakap2 tuyul tu.. best betul info ni.. 😀

  6. esharkj says:

    Kay Kastum,
    Adeh.. ko ni ada saja, ari tu payau.. err Kunak? ndak dala sempat singgah makan pisang sanggar boss! Anti 2nd time pegi I will look for it.

    Ohh! Kau suka tuyul2 haa.. sia ingat ko takut! He! He! ya this place really best.

  7. san says:

    Wow ! ini baru lah gua betul2… saya pernah pergi ke Muzium dulu lah… masa saya di KK tapi tidak real… saya jarang betul dapat melihat gua ni dan kawasannya,uuuuu … bulih tahan juga ni…. paling-paling sia dapat pigi gua yang tiada lubang… ada tapi kicil bah lubang dia…. hehehe..koula saja kelawar modop sana,kesian sia ni.. hehehe…

    Sori ah, sia ni lawak sikit bah sebab selalu tinguk pilem mr. ben. 🙂

  8. esharkj says:

    Kik! Kik! Muzium tu gua plastik fiber daa.. Ini mimang butul2 gua nih.. Ko blum tinguk Gomantong lagi.. or Niah, di Sarawak.. haaa yg tu paling power di Malaysia la kalau kategori gua.

    BTW.. itso k ba, lawak2.. anyway laughter is the best medicine.

  9. jackjumper says:

    Hi, I am from Singapore. I am keen to go there, and maybe Baturong as well. How do I get a guide ? TIA !

  10. esharkj says:

    well Jackjumper, you can go to for further info and you can find few tour operators that handling this Madai caves tour.. the best you can always go to

  11. welma_nurul says:

    hi… kami sakarang ni d kl bah.kalau kami sudah balik nanti mau juga kami pigi gua madai..
    indak perna ba kami pigi situ..

  12. esharkj says:

    hi.. welma_nurul ni d kehel dimana? buat pa dikehel? keja?

    introduce yourself here :

    err.. bahasa apa yg welma_nurul ckap daaaa..
    Thanks for dropin by btw, datang lagi yeee..

  13. zia says:

    ini gua tmpt ku….hihi
    dri kcil lg aku bea dah….

  14. esharkj says:

    Hi zia! oh tempat ko kah ni gua time kecik2… so ko ni Idahan tribe kah?

  15. jv says:

    Gambar2 lokasi yg ambil memang cantik tapi satu gambar yg menunjukkan keranda tak bertutup yg berada dikawasan “Agub tas” itu bukanlah Keranda Nenek Apui tapi menurut cerita orang2 tua ianya adalah keranda seorang anak gadis anak kepada ketua kaum idahan pada masa lampau..dan keranda tersebut timbul di permukaan adalah disebabkan hakisan tanah oleh air hujan.
    La..Kenapa ambil gambar di kawasan Labung Mapau Danau,Agub Alag,Agub Tangngah,Agub Tas dan hilir sungai saja..knapa tak pergi ke hulu sungai ambil gambar dan kekawasan Benuang Gayo melaui Paso Tanna..sana lagi cantik pemandangannya serta boleh untuk naik ke atas Bukit Madai melalui kawasan atas Lubang Gua Gittung atau ke Agub Tuban juga boleh untuk naik ke atas Bukit madai.
    Sekarang untuk kemudahan para pelawat yg datang ke Gua Madai telah disediakan sebuah bangunan pameran yg masih dalam pembinaan yg akan dilengkapi dengan sistem AV yg memaparkan prihal Gua Madai serta lorong konkrit ke kawasan belakang Benuang Gayo melalui kawasan depan Stesen Hidupan Liar Gua Madai (dalam pembinaan) dan tangga untuk naik keatas Bukit Madai melalui Agub Tuban telah siap untuk digunakan.

    *atas bumbung gua tempat u all ambil gambar keranda tu terdapat seutas tali usang yg di sangkutkan kepermukaan bumbung gua berbentuk tali gantung tu…”saya yg simpan pada 13.02.1980 sebagai sebahagian kenangan masa remaja saya di Gua Madai yg suka panjat sana sini…tengok2 lubang bah !!!*

  16. esharkj says:

    jv.. waah! rupa-rupanya jv ni ‘orang lama’.. respect! respect!
    I just couldn’t believe someone who been to Madai caves about 19 years ago are now commenting in this blog.

    actually, my trip to Madai caves the other day was just a short visit, but next time sia mesti pigi lagi this gua Madai and will xplore more about the caves..

    tima kasih jv.. respect! 😉

  17. liun says:

    bangga sia jadi anak idahan…hohoh

  18. esharkj says:

    Ya! aku rasa kebanggaan mu jua.. 😉

  19. tasak says:


    Nu ako muyu……. (Apa khabar u all………)
    Akai ulun id’aan tuwei?….

    Sayang betul e2 maddai……

  20. jv says:

    TQ ako muyu enggon (apa khabar kamu semua)
    sia bukanlah orang lama (ulun buay) di gua madai tapi sia memang menyakui dan sentiasa mengambil tahu prihal keadaan di situ, maklum la sia ni pun ulun idahan madai walaupun skrang sia kekadang terlalu lama tidak menjejakkan kaki ke gua madai..

    “tingkatkan pembangunan gua madai dari hasil pendapatan digua madai “

  21. raul @ ndak says:


  22. esharkj says:

    Ya tu la sia blum round abis ari tu pi Madai, masa limited bah.. ari tu pigi season pungut sarang burung suda habis bah, tula local guide tu bwk round2 jak dia cerita pasal hantu2 la di gua2 tuh.. next time sia mo pi lg nih.

  23. aam says:

    nak tanya sikit…..betul ke dalam gua tu ada tasik didiami oleh 2 ekor ikan berkaki, namanya ikan masapi….boleh cerita tak sikit…..

  24. atieCUTE85 says:

    aqu no, maluk jak, gunai kusai idahan , sugak, ero no landuk tun jual mahal, nak, kemo miu maluk nong engkon, ati no, telipunku, hahahaha 0198998949, na, aqu maluk kusai akai tas gaji jak, ok,

  25. atieCUTE85 says:

    miu kusai2 mbak koi, ello p miu no, ponkai 1 kusai menelepon nong engkon no, mmmmm maluk kom miu ketan gambarku,, aaaaaa, ym aqu,

  26. atieCUTE85 says:

    uuuuuuuuuuuui mbak p miu no, ooooooooooooooooooooooi akai ulun ida’an kom tunong,,,,ooooooooooi

  27. pelawat says:

    saya pernah terdengar….cerita rakyat mengenai gua madai seperti yang kita tahu hari memang tidak di nafikan…..cuma adakah ianya satu kebenaran yg pernah wujud???? bila kita kaji dengan sedalam2nya….dan merujuk kepada sejarah, fakta dan bukti (Dokumen) gua madai adalah milik Sultan Borneo Utara, Diraja Borneo Utara, Kesultanan Sulu…..demikian juga halnya dengan di gua gomantong Sandakan….

  28. fendy@izacki says:

    kemmi gulu,kemo mengurin salag,engko makai tali,kemmi makai tangsi’ jak.annan kemmi begidu’ gidu’ p d di’ d…….hehehehehehehehe,amak ku simmuk gunai aq,kemmo kemmon no,atong koi mengurin salag,sebob landu bahayo tun.jd,aro koi muyu landu mengelid salag di guo arrr,olahan2 muyu..

  29. arhaniff says:

    bnyk informasi….

  30. machito says:

    ih ih ih… pasod buku ulun ida’an tunong no. Apon sangka ku. glemer buku maddai no. heheheh! pasod gambar. rindu panau suru maddai. Kummon musim maddai. kemmo pon silap, papas gom. hehehhe! sowie, ida’an medta’.

  31. machito says:

    sapa jv neh? very knowledgeable tentang madai. 13.02.1980, aku pon belum lahir lagi… Jv meh orang sandakan kah? Yang mamaku panggil JB tuh? Yang kerja sama-sama dengan si supin ka?

  32. machito says:

    dulu, bangun pagi, terus nampak bukit Madai yang gah. Indahnya ciptaan Allah… Pagi-pagi lagi, mamaku masak kuih pau sama kuping gajah. Jual mee goreng untuk pekerja yang naik pigi mengalap. Hari Jumaat ialah hari cuti mengalap. Susah Mau tengok ada orang lelaki di bawah waktu siang sebab semua naik di atas. Dulu, datang jak, tulis nama, dibagi sinut sudah. Paling sikit RM1. Paling banyak ku dapat RM10. Sekarang, abpos lah.

  33. eima2387 says:

    hmm apa plak toyol d gua madai??sembarangan jak drg ni..huhu

    “saya pernah terdengar….cerita rakyat mengenai gua madai seperti yang kita tahu hari memang tidak di nafikan…..cuma adakah ianya satu kebenaran yg pernah wujud???? bila kita kaji dengan sedalam2nya….dan merujuk kepada sejarah, fakta dan bukti (Dokumen) gua madai adalah milik Sultan Borneo Utara, Diraja Borneo Utara, Kesultanan Sulu…..”

    mengikut cerita yg aku sllu drg my dad n pacik2 ceta mang btl la..mang milik sultan borneo tp cerita rakyat ni ada benarnya…cuba rujuk ngan ketua madai or ketua bhgain adat istiadat idahan..(aku xsure sapa ketua madai skrg n ktua adat yg aku tau bapak aku ketua pembangunan gua madai)..

  34. Masland Mohammad says:

    Saya dgr bapaku cerita, dulu2 org yang duduk Gua Madai ini, adalah org kafir yang tiada agama menyembah bertuhankan pokok,batu2 berbentuk objek pelik seperti yang terdapat di luar atau dlm gua madai, sarang burung yang terdapat didlm gua madai itu diberi mkn kepada babi ternakan meraka, zaman dahulu mereka tidak tahu sarang burung itu berharga. ketua puak kafir anak perempuannya ne telah bertemu jodoh dengan seorg pengembara/Pemburu keturunan Haji Memangku yang beragama islam mempunyai fikiran bijaksana. Beliau telah berjaya mengislamkan semua org kafir pada waktu itu.kerana pengaruhnya kuat ketua puak kafir itu telah melantik menantunya sebagai ketua Gua Madai untuk menggantikn tempatnya selepas kematiannya. Hasil hubungan hidup dengan anak perempuan ketua kafir itu, mereka telah mendapat seorang anak lelaki..cerita lain tidak ingat. Beliau telah menulis, mengatur segala peraturan, pengagihan sarang burung mengikut nenek moyang masing2,dan buku itu didaftarkannya kepada pihak British yang memerintah Sabah pada masa itu. Cerita seterusnya tidak ingat. Sehinggalah sekarang keturunan ini masa ada antaranya Haji Memangku Jali Bin Bilol Bug, Haji Salam Bin Haji Memangku Jali, Memangku Ahmad Bin Haji Memangku Salam, Memangku hindustan Bin Memangku Ahmad(arwah bapa saya)..

  35. Masland Mohammad says:

    Saya terlupa pula nak tanya dgn member disini, anda tahu tak siapa yang bertapa di dlm Gua Madai….anak2 generasi Idahan mungkin sudah lupa sejarahnya….Allahuakbar!!!

  36. machito says:

    sapa kunuk yang bertapa di madai? interesting!

  37. eima2387 says:

    sapa yg betapa 2???

  38. Roon says:

    Madai telah didiami manusia (kemungkinan besar moyang orang Idahan) puluhan ribu tahun sebelum wujudnya mana-mana kesultanan di dunia. Kisah lanjut di sini:

    Saya tak setuju istilah “kafir” digunakan untuk penduduk zaman purba Madai. Istilah itu adalah untuk orang yang telah datang peringatan Allah kepada mereka tetapi mereka membelakangkannya.
    Orang Madai tidak pernah memerangi atau memusuhi mereka yang datang menyeru tauhid kepada mereka. Lanjut di sini:

  39. esharkj says:

    eima2387@ Ya butul, my next trip nanti sy mau buat proper interview dengan orang2 yang betul2 tau mengenai story gua Madai.

    Masland Mohammad@ Menarik juga story tu.. adakah bapa mu salah seorang penduduk Madai? or dia berketurunan Idahan? memandangkan ada nama2 keturunan yang disebut.. bagaimanakah saya buleh carik dorang2 ni kalu masih hidup sampai sekarang? kalu betulla dorang tu keturunan Haji Memangku, banyak story buleh di olah..

    Roon@ Nice article on your blog.. ;p

  40. eima2387 says:

    ya mesti 2..untuk tau ceta ada baiknya kita bertnya kpada mereka yg mmg tau cerita bukn buat sdri certa..kita kn mac ada ramai pack2 n mck2 yg tau ceta ask them…n i agree wif roon..knpa plak kita msti gunakan prkataan kafir 2??huhu

  41. eva darling says:

    ulun kito..aku bangga jadi orang idahan… 🙂

  42. wah! best nya Sabah bah itu………………..

  43. sly says:

    wow cantik gak gua madai ne tapi cantik lagi tu sumandak taragang rasuk.. hehe.. nak p len kali

  44. sabrina says:

    hi..i am going to organize trip to gua madai with my special need children somewhere in Sept… can anyone let me know the info regarding person in charge for the Madai Cave Trekking?

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