Depart at 7am from your Kota Kinabalu hotel (a packed breakfast will be provided), heading deep into Sabah’s interior to the remote Maliau Basin Conservation Area. Travelling by 4WD your journey will take you through the UNESCO-listed Crocker Range National Park, climbing over the pass to Keningau, one of the oldest towns in Sabah, before continuing through heavily forested areas dotted with small settlements. Late morning arrive at the Maliau Basin reception and security gate, before following an unpaved road through the forest for a further hour to the Maliau Basin Studies Centre (MBSC) - the facilities hub comprising of visitor accommodation and a restaurant as well as labs and research buildings. Stretch your legs, check in and register before enjoying lunch.
The Maliau Basin Conservation Area covers a phenomenal 58,840 hectares, which makes it larger than Singapore! Almost entirely encircled by imposing mountains, it’s a virtually self-contained eco-system, comprising of nearly 400 square kilometres of pristine forest, which is home to an abundance of rare wildlife. The region is frequently referred to as Sabah’s Lost World and it’s easy to understand why when you learn that a preliminary expedition team didn’t enter the Basin until as recently as 1982. It has since been designated a Class 1 Protected Reserve and remains one of Borneo’s (possible Asia’s) least explored rainforests.
After lunch, take an introductory walk around the centre learning about the incredible biodiversity of this unique place. Over 80 mammal species and nearly 300 varieties of bird, many of which are rare and endangered, have been recorded in Maliau. The flora is equally diverse and several orchid species have been discovered amongst the forest.
The remainder of your afternoon is free at leisure until dinner at 7pm. After dinner, head out in a 4WD for an hour to spot nocturnal wildlife before retiring for the night.
Overnight in a rest house at the Maliau Basin Studies Centre.
After an early breakfast depart MBSC in a 4WD for Agathis Camp (approx. 1 hour drive). A handful of research stations with basic accommodation facilities have been set up throughout the Maliau Basin: some are well-equipped buildings with water and electricity, whereas others are little more than a camp site. Agathis Camp is one of the former.
From here embark on a 9km trek that will take between 5 and 6 hours, through the dense rainforest to Ginseng Camp. The trail is undulating with some very steep uphill sections, and predominantly under the cover of towering trees so keep a watch out for stray tree roots. This is not a route march and there will be plenty of opportunities to stop for a breather, as well as time to enjoy a packed lunch along the way.
Arrive into Ginseng Camp mid-afternoon. Built on stilts above the forest floor the camp is basic, with generator supplied electricity for limited hours, toilets & cold water showers, and can accommodate up to 20 people in bunk beds. The remainder of your afternoon is at leisure (and you will no doubt be tired after your trek) but it’s well worth taking the short, 15-minute walk to the impressive 27 metre high Ginseng Falls. Keep in mind that darkness falls earlier in the jungle. Dinner is served at 7pm; lights out at 8pm.
Overnight at Ginseng Camp.
The Maliau Basin Conservation Area boasts the highest density of waterfalls in Malaysia, of which the 7-tiered, Maliau Falls is the largest and most impressive. This is where you will spend your day: don’t forget your camera! It’s a 4.8km hike from Ginseng Camp, with several uphill sections of trail where ropes are provided to assist. Take a short rest and refill your water bottle at Lobah Camp (which is about halfway), from where you can enjoy panoramic views across the Maliau Basin from the hill top helipad.
The strenuous trek is well worth the effort and you will have plenty of time at the Falls to soak up the scenery, eat lunch, take photos and swim in the tea-coloured, mineral-rich waters.
Early afternoon, trek back to Ginseng Camp, following the same trail where there will be time to relax and freshen up before dinner.
Overnight at Ginseng Camp.