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Sabah, Malaysia

Maliau Basin Trek

There is an air of possibility as you drive into Maliau Basin, also known as Sabah's Lost World. Maliau Basin only saw the arrival of the outside world in the 1980s and much of the rainforest is still waiting to be discovered by researchers and explorers. Elephants, wild boar, deer and other wildlife roam about Maliau's base camp while gibbons and hornbills hide in the canopy of giant trees overhead. Explore Maliau through a series of night walks, drive and hike through this mysterious virgin rainforest.


Your guide will pick you up from your hotel in Kota Kinabalu and take you on a pretty long drive (6.5 hours) south, so bring some music and snacks and settle in for a road trip around the Sabah countryside! To get to Kota Kinabalu you will need to get a flight from any of the major airports in Malaysia or from many of the regional ones. If you are already in Borneo you can travel overland by bus from a few of the main cities.

A guide will help you plan the logistics of the trip, arrange transport, cook yummy meals at camp and best of all, provide context to what you're seeing around you. The providers we have listed here are jungle specialists who can spot the wildlife hiding among the trees, tell you all about the interesting insects (such as the dead leaf mantis) you see along the way and show you what plants you can eat if you're ever stuck in the jungle. They're also pretty awesome at telling stories - and there are a lot of stories to be told about the ancient Maliau Basin!

3 day option: This trek is relatively relaxed, with only short walks (1-2 hours at a time) into the jungle for wildlife spotting. You do not need to train up for this.

4 day option: This trek requires trekking of 6-7 hours a day for 3 days with your belongings*, with some rough terrain in part. The trek is of easy-moderate intensity overall so if you are reasonably fit, you will not need to train up for this.

5 day option: The 5 day trek is more intense as there is a steep 3km uphill climb on one of the days. This trek is of moderate intensity overall and requires trekking of 6-7 hours a day for 4 days with your belongings*. If you do not do regular exercise, some training for uphill trekking may be required.

*Please note that for the 4 and 5 day treks, although a porter is provided to carry food supplies, hikers are responsible for carrying in their own personal belongings, lunch pack (provided by the guide) and water, unless they are willing to pay an extra fee for additional porters.

You can go year round, but it could get a little wet during monsoon season (November - February). But that also means there will be even fewer people about, which makes it seem even more like the early expeditions!

It's up to you - there are 3, 4 or 5 day options!

The 3 day option will be focused on wildlife sighting and has minimal trekking. It will be around the Maliau Basin Studies Centre rather than entering into the core protected area of Maliau Basin.

The 4 and 5 day options will have one day of wildlife sighting around the Maliau Basin Studies Centre each, but while the 4 day option will only see Ginseng Camp, the 5 day option will see both Ginseng Camp and Nepenthes camp. Nepenthes camp is the more scenic of the two, with the heath forest, carnivorous pitcher plants and the observation tower which allows for a view of Maliau Basin - so we would recommend the 5 day option if you have the time.

4 or 5 day options:

Day one:
Pick up from your hotel in Kota Kinabalu, meandering drive around the beautiful Crocker Range, lunch at a local roadside restaurant and arrive at Maliau at approx 3pm. The rest of the day will be pretty relaxing with a stroll around the scenic grounds of the study center in the afternoon, dinner and night drive to spot wildlife after dinner (there will be lots of deer, civets, owls etc).

After the night drive, if you would like, you can arrange with the rangers to take a night walk in the jungle for an additional RM 50.

Day two:
After breakfast, drive 30 minutes from Maliau Basin Study Center to Agathis Camp to commence the hike.

If you have picked the 4 day Ginseng option, you will be trekking 9km to Ginseng Camp. After you get to Ginseng Camp, you can trek down to Ginseng Falls which is approx 300m from camp. Overnight at Ginseng Camp

If you have picked the 5 day Ginseng & Nepenthes option, you will be trekking 7.4km to Nepenthes camp. It's a shorter but more challenging hike that the hike to Ginseng Camp. There is a lookout point at Nepenthes camp where you can get a great view of Maliau Basin. Overnight at Nepenthes camp.

Day three:
If you have picked the 4 day Ginseng option, you will be trekking 5km from Ginseng Camp to the seven-tiered Maliau Falls for lunch by the falls before hiking back to Ginseng Camp. Overnight at Ginseng Camp.

If you have picked the 5 day Ginseng & Nepenthes option, you will be hiking 7km from Nepenthes camp to Ginseng Camp. Overnight at Ginseng Camp.

Day four:
If you have picked the 4 day Ginseng option, you will be trekking 9km from Ginseng Camp back to Agathis camp for your transport back to Kota Kinabalu.

If you have picked the 5 day Ginseng & Nepenthes option, you will be trekking 5km from Ginseng Camp to the seven-tiered Maliau Falls for lunch by the falls before hiking back to Ginseng Camp. Overnight at Ginseng Camp.

Day five:
If you have picked the 5 day Ginseng & Nepenthes option, you will be trekking 9km from Ginseng Camp back to Agathis camp for your transport back to Kota Kinabalu.

Headlamp
Insect repellent
Sunscreen
Hat
Swimwear
Dry bag
Hiking boots
Flip flops (for showers at Nepenthes and Ginseng camps)
Long socks
Towel
Sleeping bag (as it gets cold at Nepenthes and Ginseng camps)
Clothing (i.e. Waterproof jacket, long trousers - preferably tight to keep out the leeches, jumper as it gets cold at night, short sleeve shirts for the daytime)
45 litres+ backpack
Basic first aid items (ibuprofen, bandaids, gauze, antiseptic)

The Maliau Basin Authority requires travellers to have travel insurance which covers helicopter evacuation so please do make sure that you have that as we would require a copy of your policy before your trip.