Thursday, January 08, 2009

Mystifying Maliau - 'Lost World' That Time Forgot


In 1947, a World War II British pilot was heading towards Tawau when he flew over what he thought was a mist-shrouded jungle. But as the cloud dissipated, he found himself encircled by a wall of steep cliff rising some 915 metres above the jungle floor.

This serendipitous discovery was reported in the Borneo Bulletin which was first published in 1953; it did not generate much interest.

Surrounded on all sides by wickedly steep and forbidding slopes, Sabah's 'Lost World' covering an area slightly bigger than Singapore is insurmountable by foot in all direction.

The only way in is at the point where the Maliau River - the only one flowing here - exits the basin. But even this is guarded by a series of impressive waterfalls and gorges. Inaccessibility has led to its natural secrets being hidden from mankind for millions of years.

LOST WORLD UNTOUCHED BY THE PASSAGE OF TIME

Earlier attempts to scale down the escarpment in 1960, 1976 and 1980 failed and the explorations were confined to its perimeters.

In 1981, a survey party from the Sabah Foundation landed in a helicopter and managed to cut a trail which enabled a 43-member expedition to spend three weeks in the Maliau Basin in 1988.

The expedition opened a Pandora's Box of surprises, unveiling the mystery and beauty of a world untouched by the passage of time; where nature and wildlife coexists in perfect harmony, tucked in what seemed to be the very edge of the world: A 'Jurassic Park' sans dinosaurs.

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