Sabah's Lost World - Maliau Basir


Perpetually hidden under clouds and thick jungle foliage, the Maliau Basin remained unvisited by humans till 1947. Today, it's strictly designated a conservation reserve

In the remote central part of southern Sabah lies the spectacular Maliau Basin , dubbed the Lost World of Sabah. The area is like a huge crater of jungle, about 25 kms across with sharply defined cliffs on all sides. it is suggested that this is an ancient volcanic caldera or the result of a meteoritic collision.

Actually, it is a sedimentary formation through millions of years, of layer upon layer of mudstone and sandstone.

It was discovered when a pilot almost crashed into its cloud capped diff in 1947. The place is now known as the Maliau Basin Conservation Area and is managed by the Sabah Foundation for scientific research, education and eco tourism.

Only 20 per cent of the Maliau Basin has been explored. There are 12 distinct forest types here, including montane heath forest with moss covered gnarled branches and roots of stunted trees. Also in abundance here are many species of pitcher plants, rare orchids and rafflesia.

Waterfalls are the most beautiful feature of Maliau Basir. Of the 30 waterfalls, the seven-tier Maliau Falls is regarded as the most spectacular in Malaysia .

There are jungle treks in the pristine forest with several ideal spots for camping - Camel Trophy Camp, Laboh Camp, Bambangan Camp and Ginseng Camp.

The Maliau Basin is a strict Nature Reserve. To enter the area, you have to apply for a permit from the Sabah Foudation Office. For details, log on to

The "Lost World of Sabah" - Maliau Basin is truly a remote and mysterious forest enclosure that has remained pristine and completely uninhabited by humans. For those who's adventurous enough to experience a rarely visited destinations ON FOOT as there's no mode of transportation to reach this unique place, then there's simply no better place on earth more than the Maliau Basin!

Located in the south central part of Sabah which is approximately 200km from Tawau and Keningau district (40km north of Kalimantan border). Maliau Basin is almost circular in shape and surrounded by a formidable escarpment of extremely steep slopes of up to 1,500m in height. The Maliau Basin Conservation Area sprawl across 588.4 sq km or 58,840 hectares encompasses the entire Maliau Basin plus additional 198.4 sq km of forested land to the east and north of the rim including the fabled Lake Linumunsut.

The saucer shape basin measure a range of 25km in diameter and form through sedimentary inclination beds of sandstone and mudstone. The highest point found here is Mount Lotung (over 1,600m in elevation). Generally known as a basin, Maliau represents a single water catchment and is drained by a set of radiating tributaries of the Maliau River through a gorge out of the southeast of the basin into Kuamut River which in turn feeds into Sabah's longest river - the Kinabatangan.

Discovery on Maliau Basin was only made in 1947 but successful trip into the surrounding areas only occurred after almost 40 years later. Visitors are welcome here but access is strictly controlled and earlier written permission must be seek from Yayasan Sabah.

Accommodation facilities are kept in certain areas to avoid having to clear vegetation. Water and bathing facilities are kept in the nearby streams ad rivers, electricity is not available. Maliau Basin has some of the most beautiful, picturesque waterfalls and in fact it is believe to have the most waterfalls in any part of Malaysia. Its also a refuge haven for rare and endangered animals such as Sumatran Rhino, Proboscis monkey and the Asian Family genre. So far a total of 69 mammals and at least 231 species plus over 25 species of amphibians have been identified and at least one species that's completely new to science call Thelphusula sp. Crab has been been identified too.

To date over 460 species of flora have been identified which include 6 species of pitcher plants and 80 species of orchids. If getting back to your roots is intimidating you, activities in Maliau will sure make up for it. So take a walk on the wild side literally and gain a lifetime opportunity to explore nature in its truest form! 

Maliau Basin Map

Malaysia Sabah- Maliau Basin Forest Map view Maliau Basin Forest full map view

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