SABAH'S LOST WORLD
Maliau Basin is Southeast Asia’s ‘Lost World’, an area almost the size of Singapore, home to one of the most diverse collections of flora and fauna on earth. Maliau Basin is located in the southern region of central Sabah, about 40 kilometres north of the Kalimantan border. It is accessible via the towns of Keningau and Tawau, both four to five hour drives away. Maliau Basin has remained largely untouched and is a single huge water catchment, drained by one river only – the Maliau River, which flows through a gorge in the southeast of the Basin, joining the Kuamut River and eventually the Kinabatangan – Sabah’s largest and most important waterway.
With over 70 kilometres of marked trails, only about one third of Maliau is open to visitors and less than half the Basin has been explored by researchers so far. Maliau Basin contains many outstanding natural features, including the greatest number of waterfalls anywhere in Malaysia. The most renowned of these is the spectacular seven-tiered Maliau Falls on the Maliau River – the highest fall of 20 metres. Maliau Basin is also the home of the fabled Lake Linumunsut, Sabah’s only non-oxbow lake, situated below the outer banks of the northern escarpment. The indigenous Murut from the nearby forest, believe that a dragon dwells in the Lake – Sabah’s only freshwater lake – at the bottom of the basin.
Major expeditions discovered a distinct and diverse flora of over 1,800 species, including at least 6 types of pitcher plant and more 80 species of orchid, several of which are new records for Sabah. The rare Rafflesia tengku-adlinii has also been found in Maliau Basin, one of only two known localities in Sabah, and two species completely new to science, a tree and a moss, have so far been discovered. The main forest area is dominated by majestic Agathis trees, rare montane heath forest and precious lowland and hill dipterocarp forest.
Although much of the terrain remains to be explored and studied, Maliau has already revealed itself to be the home of some of Sabah's most rare and endangered wildlife species, including the Sumatran Rhinoceros, Banteng, Orang Utan and Proboscis Monkey. Others among the over 80 mammal species so far confirmed include Bornean Pygmy Elephant, Clouded Leopard and Malayan Sunbear. An impressive bird list comprising nearly 300 species has been recorded to date, including the spectacular Bulwer's Pheasant and Bornean Bristlehead – making Maliau Basin a global hot spot for bird biodiversity. More than 35 species of amphibian have so far been found, including a frog which makes its home in pitcher plants. Maliau has also yielded new species of fish, crab and water beetle, with no doubt many more species still to be discovered amongst its rich biodiversity.
Nature explorers will simply love the Maliau Basin as it is an excellent site for jungle trekking, bird watching, nature photography, night drives to spot nocturnal wildlife, waterfall swimming and recreation, and simply experiencing the thrill of being in a truly unspoilt wilderness.