Borneo Expedition: Maliau Basin - Sabah's Lost World Trek

Trip Code: TMXS

Why we love it

Spend three-and-a-half days trekking in one of the most pristine self-contained environments on earth, parts of which are still yet to be explored., Begin your adventure with a homestay with a Dusun family in Tambunan, including a local village tour to a house filled with headhunter skulls., The myriad waterways that flow into the basin’s Maliau River have created dozens of known waterfalls. Take in their hidden beauty during your trek, including the seven gorgeous tiers of Maliau Waterfall., Wonder at the bizarre flora that has adapted to this environment, like ‘ant plants’ that survive and grow by feeding on the waste of the ants that live on them., Tourism to the basin is restricted, which means after this trip you’ll be part of a very exclusive group of people to have experienced the majesty of this wilderness.

Is this trip right for me?

The three-and-a-half-day trek in the Maliau Basin will be very challenging, even for experienced trekkers. Sections involve scaling vertical ladders and scrambling for hours at a time. You will need a high level of fitness and mental fortitude in order to participate in this adventure. The reward for those who are up to the task? Exploring where few people (and even fewer foreigners) have ever set foot.

All travellers who enter the Maliau Basin Conservation Area with the intention of hiking must have travel insurance that includes emergency helicopter evacuation.

Porters are available at extra cost during the trek, but this trip does not include porters in the price.

During the trekking portion of this trip, you will sleep in basic camping huts on stretchers or bunk beds. Toilets will be squat style during this time. There are multiple nights without showers while on the trek.

You will need to bring quality shoes made for hiking in wet and slippery conditions. Our local experts recommend a local shoe colloquially known as the ‘kampung Adidas. These are similar to rubber soccer boots with spikes, and your leader can help you purchase these. You must also bring a hat, a reusable water bottle, a water purifying method, leech socks (or two pairs of football socks which can also be bought locally) and sunscreen.

Did you catch that comment above about leech socks? Yep, leeches thrive in damp environments, so the many waterways of the basin are a haven for the critters. You’ll need to dress to minimise skin exposure, keep strong insect repellent handy and have a tolerant attitude to creepy crawlies. Doubling up long football socks is a great way to protect yourself from leeches.

Important information

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Days 2,3,4,5, and Day 6 where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. The trek in the Maliau Basin will be very challenging, even for experienced trekkers. Sections involve scaling vertical ladders and scrambling for hours at a time. You will need a high level of fitness and mental fortitude in order to participate in this adventure
3. It is a condition of entry to the Maliau Basin Conservation Area that all hikers have insurance cover that includes emergency helicopter evacuation. You must take proof of this with you on the trip.
4. Drone usage is not permitted, and DLSR must be declared on arrival at the Conservation Area and a permit acquired for use (100 MYR per camera).
5. No styrofoam, polystyrene containers or canned foods are permitted in the Conservation
Area and all litter must be brought out.
6. Malaria can be a risk in this area. Ensure you take precautions against mosquitoes.

What to bring/pack

LAUNDRY – There will be no laundry facilities on this trip. You will only be able to organise laundry in Kota Kinabalu at the start and end point of this trip.

Malaysia is a liberal Muslim country, and many Malaysian women do not wear headscarves. However, Malaysia is very conservative when compared with standards you may be accustomed to at home, and you should dress accordingly. As a general guideline, shoulders, cleavage, and knees should be covered when traveling in Borneo except when on the beach. Wearing skimpy clothing is considered disrespectful to the local culture in many of the small local communities we visit.

- Quick-drying clothing is highly recommended
- T-Shirts/cotton shirts
- Long-sleeved top (for evenings when mosquitoes are out)
- Long trousers/long skirt/shorts (denim not recommended due to humidity – cotton or quick-drying clothes are better)
- Walking shoes or hiking boots with a good grip and ankle support or locally bought Adidas Kampung
- Walking Poles for support on steep uphill sections and longer descents
- Sleeping bag/sleeping bag liner (please note you can rent a sleeping bag from Maliau Basin Study Center at a cost of RM30 per night. We recommend you bring your own sleeping bag liner for additional comfort if you a renting a sleeping bag). Note no pillows, blankets or towels are provided at the camps. Some people prefer to just sleep under sleeping sheet/liner due to high humidity.
- Flip flops
- Sun protection – hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, lip balm
- Hand sanitizer
- Water purification tablets or method
- Torch/flashlight/head torch - battery powered
- Waterproof jacket
- Swimming costume
- Leech socks or pairs of long football socks
- Lightweight, quick dry towel
- Water bottle
- Medium waterproof pack. You will need to bring a small to medium backpack – approx 40L
- Dry bags/plastic bags
- Sarong for privacy when changing clothes - can be bought locally
- Insect repellent - 75-100% DEET
- Basic first aid kit
- Eco-friendly soap or body wash

Please note you can leave your luggage at the Maliau Basin Study Center and carry your pack for 4 days while trekking. In this, you need to carry some dry clothes, a torch/flashlight, toiletries, a waterproof jacket, a sleeping bag/sleeping sheet, energy snacks, water, and any other essentials.

We do not allow the use of video cameras when staying in the villages as it can be perceived by the local people as highly obtrusive.

If you need some further tips for packing, you can always check out our ultimate packing list.

If you would like to hire a porter to carry your day pack, please let your sales agent know at least 14 days prior to departure. The porters must be pre-booked to guarantee availability. The costs can be paid locally direct to the porter and will be confirmed at the time of the request., WATER BOTTLE
Please bring your own water bottle to refill along the way. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please use the water dispensers which are provided on some of our vehicles and at some of our accommodation. Your group leader or local representative will advise whether tap water is safe to drink in your destination and if it is you can simply refill with tap water. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day. If you are walking or trekking as part of your trip you will need to carry at least 2L of water with you.

Physical rating


This trek will be very challenging, even for experienced trekkers. Sections involve scaling vertical ladders and scrambling for hours at a time. You will need a high level of fitness and mental fortitude in order to participate in this adventure, which includes hiking up to 8-9 hours a day. The better prepared you are physically, the more you will enjoy the experience!

We recommend that in the months leading up to your climb you increase your physical fitness with aerobic exercise. Walking, running and stair-climbing will all strengthen your legs and improve your stamina.

If you’re already a regular exerciser, it might be an idea to up your game a little. Run those extra laps, or take a few longer walks, ideally with a day pack on your back. If you’re not exercising so regularly (2-3 times a week), it’s important to start in the weeks leading up to your departure (4-6 weeks prior at least). Your best choice would be to start walking regularly 2-3 times a week including at least one long walk (up to 15 km). It’s important to not only walk on flat surfaces, so if you cannot access a hilly terrain easily, walking up and down the stairs is a good replacement. Top that up with some general fitness exercises and any other cardio-related classes and you will see huge progress in your fitness levels.

Joining your group

Hotel Shangri-La Kota Kinabalu, 75, Bandaran Berjaya, P.O. Box 11718, Kota Kinabalu, 88000, MALAYSIA, Phone: +60 88212800, Fax: +60 88212078

Alternate Joining Point

Joining instructions

Finishing your trip

Hotel Shangri-La Kota Kinabalu, 75, Bandaran Berjaya, P.O. Box 11718, Kota Kinabalu, 88000, MALAYSIA, Phone: +60 88212800, Fax: +60 88212078

Alternate Finish Point

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 7

Lunches included: 5

Dinners included: 5

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader or local representative will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies, please let your booking agent know prior to departure.

Climate & seasonal information

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader or local representative may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the group leader or local representative to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below.

Available for phone call or WhatsApp call on +60 138 815 813


Please note some of the multishare/dormitory accommodation can be mixed gender.