Sabahs Lost World - the Maliau Basin

This is a nine-day journey into Borneo rainforest to visit remote Murut communities, climb the limestone pinnacle rising above the tree canopy and trek into the depths of the Maliau Basin to the heart of what is Sabah’s Lost World and cross the rest of Sabah through the Danum Valley reserve and fly out from Lahad Datu or Tuwau.

Starting in the coastal capital of Kota Kinabalu, this traverse of Sabah ventures inland to the Orou Sapulot region to experience the Murut communities and family homestays, exploring the famous 800ft limestone pinnacle Batu Punggul and learning about their historic headhunting heritage, and negotiating the winding waterways on an exhilarating river excursion. The journey continues on old logging roads deeper into Sabah’s centre and a four-day jungle trek into the mystical Maliau Basin.

A crater of primary forest, distinctive wildlife and striking waterfalls, the Maliau Basin is a dense jungle wilderness, and with no roads, an area only explored by foot. An excellent destination for jungle trekking and wildlife spotting, nature explorers will love this trip for discovering the wealth of natural beauty on offer. A highlight includes a trek to the famous Seven Tier Maliau Falls. From here the adventure finishes at the airstrip at Tuwau for the flight back to Kota Kinabalu. You can read more about how challenging the Maliau trek is on our blog, as is the main facts about the basin.

Sabahs Lost World Itinerary

Day  Itinerary
1 Arrive Kota Kinabalu, transfer to local hotel in town. 
2 Journey to Murut Homestay in Orou Sapulot
3 Trek to the 800ft limestone pinnacle, Batu Punggul
4 Go 'rapid-shooting' on the river into the heart of Sabah
Transfer to Maliau Basin Reserve, overnight at studies centre
6 Trek to the Agathis and Nepenthes Camp, see Giluk waterfall
7 Visit the famous seven tiered Maliau Falls before trekking to Ginseng Camp
8 Trek back to Ginseng Camp, Agathis camp and gate and depart to KK or Lahad Datu for flight out.

Danum Valley.png

What Gear Do I Need to Visit Borneo?

For this trip you you will need good trekking boots which are lightweight and have ankle support, quick drying synthetic materials to wear, good sun protection like a broad rimmed hat, and a sleeping bag liner. During the day when trekking try cycling shorts and light trekking trousers or shorts with synethic T-shirts or light shirts, and a hat. Take a small towel for your face during hiking since it will be hot and humid. Keep a dry set of long sleeved clothes to change into at camp or the lodge. You don't need a lot of changes of clothes for jungle treks, and it's easy to rinse off damp clothes in the river and dry them out quickly in the sun for use again. Take sandals for the evening and long socks. It is important to cover up in the evenings and at dawn. Take a rucksack for the day hikes and a duffle bag. In your daysack you will carry a dry set, water bottle, camera and not much else. 

Click our Borneo kit tip page to learn more about what type of kit you should bring with you to Borneo.

When is the best time to visit Borneo (click here for details)?

Fitness for trekking in Borneo

To trek the land of Maliau Basin requires good physical fitness as the trails range from easy to steep and the terrain can be challenging. This adventure involves three days of trekking and lots of up and down quite steep hills, so it is recommended that visitors are reasonably fit and able to endure 6 to 8 hours of trekking per day. Remember to take it easy, pace yourself and enjoy the surroundings. The heat and humidity can be overwhelming at first but after a few days your body acclimatises to this environment.

Orou Sapulot
Pinnacles in the area of Orou Sapulot

Though a porter is provided to carry food supplies, trekkers are responsible for carrying their own personal belongings and water, unless they are willing to pay an extra fee for additional porters. Trekkers stay at campsites equipped with basic facilities where your guide will officially be the ‘jungle chef.’

Camping in Maliau Basin

The rainforest is a surprisingly clean and pure place to visit. The canopy offers excellent shade from the intense sun keeping temperatures cooler than in the cities. However, it can be very humid and you will need to continually drink water. It is important to bring 2-3 litres of water with you and have frequent sips of water during the trek. You may want to use rehydration salt or tablets in your water to replenish loss of minerals to avoid muscle cramp. There is piped water at Agathis Camp and Ginseng Camp, and at Lobah Camp, which is the highest point of the trip, the water source is collected from rain water and is first used for drinking and cooking, then for cleaning and showers.

Sleeping is either in hammocks which we can supply or in basic huts on mattresses. You will need to bring a sleeping sheet or very light sleeping bag. The facilities are quite basic, and generally we recommend using hammocks.

Staying at a homestay in Borneo

After leaving Kota Kinabalu, you will be staying in homestays in the Orou Sapulot region with the Murut community. These homestays are comfortable but simple guest houses run by local families and will have beds with mattresses and bedding, and clean cold water bathrooms. You will have a separate room to the family, but may have to share with other guests in some cases.

Dos and Don'ts In The Maliau Basin Conservation Area

  • No hunting is allowed
  • Fire arms are absolutely forbidden.
  • No collecting or trapping of any plant or animal specimens
  • No slashing of vegetation or cutting of new trails
  • No graffiti on rocks or trees
  • All litter / rubbish must be brought out
  • Visitors must only stay in the designated campsites
  • Campfires can be lit only under the supervision of Rangers


Before or after your trip there are also a number of optional Add-on trips / activities, or hotels that you may like to take advantage of to extend your holiday, or just to cover accommodation before or after joining us. Some of the options are shortened versions of some of our main Borneo trips, others are adventure or relaxng wind downs in their own right. These can be found on the 'More Information' tab on this trip page and the options include:

  • A 3D2N ascent of Mount Kinabalu.
  • 4D3N trek / climb of Mount Mulu, which is one of Borneo’s toughest - harder and more adventurous than Mt Kinabalu.
  • 3D2N visit to some luxury in the Kawag Nature Lodge in Danum Conservation Area for relaxation and wildlife viewing. 
  • A visit to the tropical islands off the coast of Sandakan including glamping on Turtle Island or Libaran (or a bespoke diving trip to Sipadan Island).
  • 2D2N visit to the Hibiscus Beach Resort, which is a stunning and idyllic boutique beach chalet set in a secluded cove on the Kudat peninsula on the northern tip of Borneo.
  • 3D2N Big Fin Beach resort for snorkelling, diving, paddle boarding or relaxing at this private and secluded beach resort, just off the coast of Kota Belud, near Kota Kinabalu.
  • 3D2N add-on trip to the Danum Valley Conservation Area, staying at the Danum Valley Field Centre, with guided treks through primary rainforest.
  • 4D3N trek into the interior of Sarawak to live with the last nomadic tribe in Borneo, the Penan.
  • 4D3N add-on with visits to the Sepilok Orangutan Centre and the Kinabatangan River for stunning wildlife safaris.
  • 3D2N treat with a night at the prestigious and award-winning Borneo Rainforest Lodge in Danum Valley Reserve.
  • Additional nights accommodation in Kota Kinabalu or for sightseeing and visiting the islands, staying in the Hotel Sixty 3.

Why Choose Adventure Alternative for Borneo trips?

  • We tailor our trips to the more unusual destinations on Borneo, and we have many years of experience managing unusual itineraries and destinations for all types of groups and individuals. We tend to avoid the mainstream packages offered by most local tour operators and like to use our expertise and knowledge to help people get the most out of the country.
  • Our staff at Adventure Alternative Bornoe spend time researching new locations and activities to ensure that you will visit the most exciting and adventurous destinations, far from any hordes of other travellers.
  • Adventure Alternative is built on a model of ethical business practices and a responsible travel ethos. Our awards for 'Best Personal Contribution' in 2009 and 'Best for Poverty Reduction' in 2013 highlight our commitment to these principles.


Sabah's Lost World Detailed Itinerary








Arrive in the coastal city of Kota Kinabalu, transfer to a city hotel.




Head 2 hours inland to the small market town of Keningau before journeying onwards by 4x4  and longboat to the Orou Sapulot Pungiton Camp, where you will be met by the local Murut guide. After a short introduction to the Murut culture, spend the afternoon discovering the unexplored Pungiton Cave system before returning to camp to enjoy a swim in the river. Enjoy dinner and watch the night sky from the eating area before falling asleep to the sounds of the jungle.



 800ft pinnacle trek


Today an early start to try and reach the summit of Batu Punggul, the 800ft limestone pinnacle that rises out of the jungle. The adventurous can attempt to scramble to the top for stunning views of the surrounding rainforest. After a picnic lunch at the base, transfer to a nearby waterfall for an afternoon of relaxation and swimming. Overnight in a simple hut by the waterfall.





After breakfast travel to the Salung Jetty to embark on the exhilarating ‘rapid shooting’ deep into the Borneo interior, almost reaching the Kalimantan border, heading both up and down river in a traditional wooden boat powered by an outboard engine. On the way observe many riverbank Murut villages and explore a nearby hidden waterfall.

Overnight in a modern village house overlooking the surrounding valleys and a night of Murut food, rice wine and local dancing.



3 hrs


Leave the Murut hosts and head overland three hours to the World Heritage listed Maliau Basin. Arrival at the reception by early afternoon and transfer to the studies centre. In the evening a short film introducing the Maliau Basin and a night walk if weather permits.




5 hrs


Agathis camp - Nepenthes Camp - Waterfall

After breakfast, trek through the rainforest for 7 km to the Nepenthes Camp constructed by the Camel Trophy Expedition in 1993. Bird watching  from a 33m high platform in the canopy and a short trek to the beautiful Takob Akob and Giluk Falls. Overnight at Nepenthes Camp.




8 hrs


Nepenthes Camp - Maliau Waterfalls - Ginseng Camp

With luck wake to the calls of the magnificent and rare Borneo Gibbon. Today is a 10km jungle trek along the lowland Dipterocarp Forests for about 5 hrs to the famous 7-tiered Maliau Waterfalls, undisputed jewel of the region. The highest waterfall is an imposing 28m high. Trek a further two hours to the Ginseng Camp for dinner and overnight.




6 hrs


Ginseng Camp - Agathis Camp - Gate

After breakfast a quick visit to the nearby and picturesque Ginseng Falls before trekking back to Agathis Camp with several stops for lunch and rest, and then a final hike for an hour back to the main gate, arriving early afternoon. Pick up and transfer to either Kota Kinabalu or Lahad Datu depending on onward journey.


Maliau Basin: 'Sabahs Lost World' cost £2395.00

This cost is based on minimum two people with a single person supplement of £450.00. Bespoke dates are acceptable and there are options for additional tours to extend your holiday.

Please contact us first before booking, so that we can availability and if there are others in the group.


  • Accommodation throughout the trip in shared twin rooms unless otherwise requested
  • All meals listed in detailed itinerary (B,L,D)
  • 4x4 or minibus/car transport between destinations including airport transfers and transfer to Tuwau at the end
  • Park fees, camping fees and park rescue fees
  • In country team staff including an AA Borneo guide for the Maliau Basin section, and in-house guides for Sapulot
  • 6% service tax paid only for hotel accommodation
  • 6% sales tax for all holiday expenses


  • Internal flights
  • Personal Travel Insurance
  • Personal Spending Money
  • Hotel tax of 10RM (~£2.50) per night paid in cash at check in (only for hotel and lodge accommodation)

Deposit of £100.00 is required to book your place with balance due six weeks prior to the trip start date. We recommend obtaining travel insurance immediately after booking your trip.