Immense vine-clad jungles, majestic towering trees, strange and rare wildlife – Maliau Basin lives up to its nickname as ‘Sabah’s Lost World’ and is one of Borneo’s least-travelled gems. Situated in the remote south of the state, the Maliau Basin Conservation Area is almost completely encircled by insurmountable cliffs that have separated it from the rest of the world for centuries. Although some locals have known of the area, no archaeological record has been found establishing any permanent residency in this area. The first account of Maliau Basin by westerners was in the late 1940s when a small plane almost crashed into the cliff wall surrounding the area, and it was not until 1988 that a modern expedition revealed a virtually self-contained ecosystem, glorious waterfalls, and an abundance of wildlife.
Eventually protected by the government and designated as a Class 1 Protected Forest Reserve, it remains as one of the lesser explored rainforests in all of Borneo, having over 2,000 recorded types of fauna and flora with many others still waiting to be discovered. The conservation area contains an unusual assemblage of 12 forest types, comprising mainly of lower montane forest dominated by majestic Agathis trees, rare montane heath forest, and lowland and hill dipterocarp forest.
Many travelers make the assumption that because the area is remote and the forest is old-growth, they will see a lot of wildlife. This is not true on the basis that you will be hiking deep into the heart of thick jungle that is less penetrable, making wildlife spotting and observation more challenging. During your first night at the center, we include a night drive and this will be the best opportunity to spot nocturnal mammals. Gibbons, langurs, and birds will be the focus for the rest of your hiking days including an array of reptiles, insects and amphibians. The highlight of your adventure would be to trek to the majestic 7 tiered Maliau Falls.
Reaching Maliau Basin requires the use of 4X4 vehicles, and the expedition will require an accompanying forest ranger, as well as our nature guide and porters. A trip here is a true jungle adventure with very low visitor numbers throughout the year. Accommodations and meals are basic, but if you yearn for a remote, challenging, and unique rainforest experience, look no further.
Be prepared to walk five to eight hours daily, with some extended, strenuous up-hill sections throughout your trekking. You have to be fit and must have a travel insurance policy that covers helicopter evacuation. The Maliau Basin Program begins and ends in Kota Kinabalu city.