How challenging is a Maliau Basin Trek?

The Maliau Basin has only partially been explored, leaving over 50% of the area completely untouched. It is conservation reserve of dense, untamed jungle filled with towering, tiered waterfalls and unmapped trails waiting to be explored.

But what does this wilderness mean for trekking conditions and traveller's preparations?

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A Maliau Basin trek is a challenging trip. But it is also one that is accessible to most travellers with a keen sense of adventure! As with all treks in the tropics, it is as much the climate as the terrain itself that can be the difficulty.

Maliau Basin Trek: Terrain

A Maliau Basin trek will take you over winding trails, often overgrown with the encroaching forest, and with uneven and muddy ground underfoot. The trails will be narrow, slippery, and generally up and down for most of the days. This is fairly challenging for most but the pace will be reasonably slow with plenty of rest stops. Different to our many mountain climbs, the trek will be easier on the legs as days will mix both ascent and descent, using different muscle groups.

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You will need to be in good physical condition to take on a multi-day Maliau Basin trek, and getting out for pre-trip hikes as often as possible will make the trip more enjoyable, but there is no technical preparation or experience needed.

Maliau Basin Trek: Climate 

The hot and humid environment can make it easy to become dehydrated, so it is essential to drink plenty of water (see Maliau Basin Kit List).  Most trekkers will be shocked at how quickly their clothes are drenched in sweat, and there is little point in trying to fight it! As any experience jungle trekker knows, once you get accustomed to being sweaty all day, the more comfortable the whole experience will be.  Unfortunately, there is little preparation travellers can do to combat the challenging aspects of trekking in a jungle climate except to take a few days in Kota Kinabalu to acclimatise before embarking on the trip.

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Maliau Basin Trek: Comfort

Don’t expect luxury in this wild reserve! The camps you will stay at during a Maliau Basin trek are all reasonably basic but you will not be pitching hammocks and tents each night either. Sleeping in dormitory style huts with permanent stretcher hammocks, you will still get a dry night sleep off the jungle floor.

Camps are all equipped with electricity in the evenings so you can charge cameras and head torches if needed, and food will be prepared buffet style for the group. We can also arrange porters to help carry your personal pack if this is something you would prefer.

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Maliau Basin Trek: Logistics 

A Maliau Basin trek requires a lot of fore planning; applying for one of the limited permits, hiring a driver with an off-road worthy 4x4, packing supplies and equipment for the trek itself, as well as finding an experienced and knowledgeable guide.

Luckily for our guests, our local Adventure Alternative Borneo office in Kota Kinabalu runs all Maliau Basin treks. We use our own trained nature guides as well as the expert Maliau rangers to ensure our trekkers have the best chance of spotting wildlife, getting the most information about all the unique plant life, and are lead to the best swimming spots!

For more information about our Maliau Basin trek, check out the trip page here or email for more information.