Monday, November 21, 2011

Maliau Basin: The Lost World of Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Maliau Basin is one of the world’s finest remaining wilderness areas. It encompasses over 390 square kilometres of pristine rainforest in the south-central part of Sabah, Borneo, in Malaysia. The rainforest is so dense that less than 50 percent of it has ever been explored.

The Maliau Basin rainforest in Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia, encompasses an area of 390 square kilometres, but the land is so wild that it has never been continuously inhabited by humans. Photo courtesy of Borneo Eco Tours

Today, the Malaiu is awaiting UNESCO World Heritage Site status, which would help with conservation efforts. Funding is required to support initiatives like the construction of a network of trails that would allow small group treks to explore this unspoilt jungle accompanied by a local guide.

The ‘Lost World’ of Sabah

Surrounded by steep and forbidding slopes on all sides, the basin, which covers an area slightly larger than Singapore, is unapproachable on foot. There are no roads, only winding rivers and a lush tropical rainforest. The inaccessibility has kept this remote paradise hidden from humankind for millions of years. It was first spotted in 1947, when a British pilot flying from the west coast of Sabah to Tawau nearly ran into the steep cliff rising over 915 metres above the jungle floor. Maliau Basin has since been dubbed Sabah’s ‘Lost World’ due to its unique and mysteriously intact biodiversity.

The land of Maliau Basin has never been permanently inhabited. Although the people of the Murut tribe arrange yearly hunting trips into the area, they are the only regular visitors and no record or proof of their settlement exists in the forbidding basin. In fact, to date, only 25 percent of the entire area has been mapped.

The whole basin is one single water catchment and drains through a canyon in the south by one river, the Maliau River, which flows out into the Kuamut River, eventually joining Sabah’s largest and most important waterway, the Kinabatangan River. Back in Maliau, there are over 30 waterfalls – the most famous of which is the spectacular seven-tiered, 28-metre cascade known as Maliau Falls – making it the most waterfall-rich area in Malaysia.

With over 30 waterfalls, Sabah’s Maliau Basin on Borneo is the most waterfall-rich area in all of Malaysia.

Daring to Enter

Today, intrepid travellers up for a challenge can arrange a visit to this real ‘lost world.’ Maliau Basin contains over 70 kilometres of trails, and visitors must be accompanied by a guide at all times. To trek the land of Maliau Basin requires good physical fitness as the trails range from easy to steep and the terrain can be challenging.

Though a porter is provided to carry food supplies, hikers are responsible for carting in their own personal belongings and water, unless they are willing to pay an extra fee for additional porters. Exhaustion may take its toll gradually, but it is best to stay focused upon the various species of flora dwelling throughout this unexplored haven. Trekkers stay at campsites equipped with basic facilities where one’s guide is officially the ‘jungle chief.’

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Maliau Basin: The Lost World of Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

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