The Maliau Basin

What is the Maliau Basin?

The Maliau Basin is a Protected Forest Reserve in the heart of Sabah, Borneo. Surrounded by towering cliffs, the area has seen little human exploration and has evolved into its own distinctive ecosystem, with rare flora and fauna, towering waterfalls and untouched ancient rainforest.

History of the Maliau Basin

While local tribes will have likely known of the area, there is no archaeological evidence of any permanent human settlements within the Maliau Basin. The first encounter by a westerner was in 1949 when a pilot spotted the expansive crater carved into the forested landscape, but it was not until 1988 when a scientific expedition delved into the hollow that any in-depth exploration occurred.

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 Trekking in the jungles of Sabah.

Ecology of the Maliau Basin

Unlike many other areas of rainforest in Borneo, the Maliau Basin remains entirely primary rainforest, meaning no part of it has ever been logged and regrown. With over 2,000 different species of plants and animals, this wonderland of wildlife is every nature lovers dream. Comprising four different forest types, the plant diversity excels most other jungles around the globe. The impenetrable jungle means that while the Maliau Basin is home to large numbers of wildlife, chances of seeing the better-known animals are slim. Accompanied by an expert nature guide for the entire trek, you will focus on spotting weird and wonderful fungi, flowers, insects, snakes and lizards.

Why Visit the Maliau Basin?

A trek to the Maliau Basin is suited to intrepid travellers looking for an authentic jungle experience with a keen interest in nature, wildlife and forests. The trip can be challenging at times due to the muddy and uneven terrain of the forest, but more than fitness, an enthusiasm for real adventure is what will ensure any trekker gets the most from this rare experience.

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Gargantuan trees greet you in the depths of the jungle. 

Maliau Basin: Sabah's Lost World kit list


The basic idea of the kit we will take is to keep you warm/cool, dry, protected from the sun and able to be comfortable in the evenings and night. We can send you a detailed kit list but the main points to cover are:-

  • BAGS - waterproof bag and a daypack with lots of drybags or plastic ziplock pouches
  • GENERAL CLOTHES - Lightweight full-length trousers and tops and shorts & T-shirts - Lightweight synthetic materials dry quickly.
  • Swimming shorts for the rivers & coast.
  • Hat and raincoat.
  • Sturdy walking shoes or boots
  • Flip flops or similar for in the city or around the homestays.
  • Leech socks.
  • Head torch
  • SLEEPING - Lightweight synthetic sleeping bag and/or a cotton sheet
  • Reusable water bottles
  • A wash kit- please try to bring biodegradable products
  • First Aid Kit - it will be useful to bring some plasters or bandage in case of minor cuts or injury. Please bring any of your own personal medicine. If you are prone to allergy from insects bite (bees, sands flies, etc) it is useful to bring an anti-histamine.

Wearing a thin t-shirt (or quick dry t-shirt) and long lightweight trousers for all trekking days is best. There is no need to change as you will perspire a lot within 1-2 hours of trekking and your t-shirt will be completely wet. You may want to take a dip at Maliau Fall, so be prepared to wear your swimsuit or a quick dry t-shirt on the day when you are trekking to Maliau Fall.

You will need a spare set of clothing for sleeping. You can bring a bag with locks to keep your clean clothes in a storeroom in the base camp (Agathis Camp). An umbrella is very useful if it rains. 

Trekking poles can be useful to help you balance and taking some load off your feet if you usually find them useful.