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

Deep in the heart of Borneo’s Sabah lies a land so wild, rugged and isolated that its beauty has been seen by few people. Welcome to the glorious Maliau Basin, a circle of lush forest and waterways rimmed on all sides by steep cliffs and embankments. Our 8-day trekking expedition takes you into this protected, restricted-access area to discover wild orchids and cascading waterfalls set in forest so green it seems to glow. With a homestay in a historic village and a well-earned night in a hotel bookending a three-and-a-half-day trek, this trip is for people seeking active adventure, natural splendour and a personal challenge.

8 days, from


per person


12 people max


Trip code: TMXS
Style: Original
Theme: Expedition


Countries Visited:  Malaysia
Accommodation: Hotel (2 nights), Homestay (1 night), Dormitory (1 night), Camping under basic shelters (3 nights)
Transportation: Private mini van , on foot
Included Meals:

  • 7 breakfasts
  • 5 lunches
  • 5 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • 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.


Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Kota Kinabalu

Selamat Datang! Welcome to Borneo, Malaysia. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm this evening. If you arrive early, you can immerse yourself in the history of this intriguing city between the Borneo jungle and the South China Sea at the Sabah State Museum.

Day 2: Tambunan

You'll wake with excitement for your first full day of Intrepid adventure today. And, if it's the right time of season, we'll kick things off with a walk near the Tambunan Rafflesia Centre in search of the famous Rafflesia Flower, the largest flower in the world, with a local guide leading the way. Then, we'll bid farewell to the modernity of Kota Kinabalu and make your way to tonight’s homestay, located in the district of Tambunan. You'll arrive in Sunsuron Village and meet your Dusun hosts. While the government counts the Dusun people as part of the larger Kadazandusun indigenous group, they have a culture distinct from the Kadazan people. In the afternoon, you'll join a walking tour of the village and explore a local bamboo house and skull house. After some time discovering the sights here, you'll get a chance to cool off with a refreshing dip in a local river. This evening, feast on delicious home cooked treats.

Day 3: Tambunan - Maliau Basin Conservation Area

After breakfast this morning, depart for the Maliau Basin Conservation Area by private vehicle. Today's journey is on the longer side, so it’s a good idea to have a book, podcast, or some questions ready for your leader about the history of the area to pass the time. Arrive in the basin in the late afternoon and settle in at the Study Centre, a research base where you will spend tonight in dormitory-style accommodation. Later head to the Maliau Observation Tower. From here you’ll enjoy panoramic views over the area you’ll spend the next several days exploring.

Day 4: Sabah's Lost World trek

After breakfast, make the drive to the starting point for your trek in Agathis camp and then listen to a briefing from a local trekking guide or ranger before starting the hike to Nepenthes Camp. Your trekking adventure begins with the most difficult portion, a seven-and-a-half-kilometre hike, uphill to the rim of the basin (elevation 1300 metres). Depending on the conditions, the time spent hiking today will be around 6 hours. You'll hike over dense detritus while surrounded by towering trees, looking out for the incredible insects, flowers and mammal species that live among them. Today you'll encounter your first set of metal ladders, there will be quite a few of these over the next couple of days. These are not for the novice trekker, you will need to have an adventurous spirit. These ladders are fixed to the ground, rock or tree trunks which help you to climb the steep terrain. Some ladders along the trail can be almost at a 90 degree angle. There are also fallen tree trunks used to cross the rivers. But don't worry, while the going will be tough, you’ll be rewarded by the immense beauty of the environment. If time permits, it may be possible to stop at terraced Giluk Falls or cascading Takob Akob Falls. You'll arrive at Nepenthes Camp in the late afternoon or early evening.

Day 5: Sabah's Lost World trek

Today you’ll get the chance to check out not one, not two but three stunning waterfalls. And what's best is you’ll hike your way to each one, making the cascading reward at the end even more worth it. After about 2 hours of trekking you’ll reach the first falls, Takob-Akob Falls, which plunge 38 metres into the rainforest below. Next up, hit the trail towards Fowzi Waterfall where you’ll sit down for a picnic lunch and enjoy the views. Finally, you’ll discover Giluk Waterfall, with an easy trek to finish the day. This evening you’ll head back to your camp at Nepenthes Camp to relax and rest your weary legs before another big day on the trails tomorrow.

Day 6: Sabah's Lost World trek

Today’s trek is to Maliau Waterfall, continuing to Ginseng Camp in the evening. This 10-kilometre hike follows a relatively gentle trail to the seven-tiered falls. Listen out for the calls of Borneo gibbons, which are plentiful in the area (though hard to spot). Depending on recent rainfall, you may hear the thunder of the falls before you see them. The highest tier is 28-meters-tall, with each section set a fair distance forward from the last, making this a captivating sight.

Day 7: Sabah's Lost World trek - Kota KInabalu

Set off in the morning and begin the final leg of the nine-kilometre trek to Agathis Camp (approximately 5—6 hours). Arrive at the camp hut at around 1 pm. Make the return drive by private vehicle to Kota Kinabalu and arrive at the hotel by 7 pm. Treat yourself to a shower, then choose whether to join your group for an optional final dinner together.

Day 8: Kota KInabalu

Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast.