Maliau Basin Conservation Centre

Maliau Basin Conservation Area which is about 190 km away from Tawau is the place to go if you are adventurous as only a limited number of people have visited this virgin forests of Malaysia since 1997. Spanning an area of about 59,000 hectares, it was accidentally discovered by a British pilot in 1947 when he almost crashed into the cliffs of this basin due to low visibility.

Since 1982, expedition teams have been exploring this virgin jungle and a Studies Centre has been set up here in 2007. Since then, a total of 270 species of bird, 80 species of mammal, 30 species of amphibian, 80 types of orchid and 1,800 varieties of plants have been discovered. More of flora and fauna are discovered and documented each year. There are still over half of the area which has yet to be explored and visitors are only allowed to explore a third of Maliau Basin.

Trails of about 70 km have been opened to visitors. There is also a 30 m canopy observation platform at the Camel Trophy Camp. This is a good place to see the panoramic view of the jungle. Make sure you bring a binocular and a camera to capture the wild animals, birds and exotic plants in this rain forest.

The Maliau Basin crater has a diameter of about 25 km with its highest peak at 1675 m. There are 7 camps with basic facilities that you can go to. Spending 4-5 days here is common with visitors as there are so much to see here.

Naturalists and botanists will enjoy this pristine rainforest. There are no roads inside the conservation centre hence the only way to move around is by trekking. Be prepared for a few hours of trekking from one camp to the other.

Getting To Maliau Basin and Accommodation

The best way to get here is to take a flight to Tawau. MAS and AirAsia fly to this town regularly. Book early and you will get better rates. From Tawau, it is another 6 hours by 4WD to the Security Gate. The 7 camps that have been set up for your use are:

  • Studies Centre is about 27km or 60 minutes drive away from the security checkpoint. There are 4 units of resthouse with air conditioned rooms and hot shower. 10 units of fan rooms and hot shower.Hostels are also available and can accommodate 32 males and 32 females but without hot shower. There is also a conference room, nature exhibits and a lab. This centre can accommodate the largest number of guests.
  • Belian Camp is located near the Studies Centre and the banks of Maliau River. There is a camping ground big enough for twenty double tents, kitchen and toilet facilities within the compound. The canopy walkway is close by.
  • Agathis Camp is at the southernmost part of the area and is able to accommodate 30 visitors. Accommodation is hammock-style with electricity from 6:00pm to 11:00pm. Basic toilets and kitchen are also available.The Seraya and Meranti trees can grow up to 45m from the base of the jungle. It is located about 20 km away from the security checkpoint.
  • Ginseng Camp is located near the 27m Ginseng Waterfalls. It takes about 6 hours hike from Agathis Camp to reach this camp. It can accommodate 20 visitors with electricity from 6:00pm to 11:00pm. Basic toilets and kitchen are also available.
  • Nephenthes Camp or also known as Camel Trophy Camp has a 2-storey building and was named so as it was built by Camel Trophy participants in the year 1993. It can housed 15 visitors with electricity from solar power. See the animals and birds at the 30m observatory tower located nearby.The Giluk Waterfalls and Takob Akob Waterfalls can be reached by hiking 2 hours from this camp.
  • Lobah Camp is located near the Maliau Waterfalls and is on top of a hill. You will be able to see a good view of the basin from this camp.
  • Seraya Camp is about 6 hours walk away from Belian Camp.


See the videos of this exotic area by Scubazoo Video and ABC Tours Sabah.

Flora & Fauna

Look out for some of the following flora and fauna while you are here. It is always a good idea to find out the names of them before coming here or by educating yourself at the centre.

  • Sumatran Rhinoceros
  • Pygmy Elephants
  • Sambar Deer
  • Clouded Leopard
  • Malayan Sunbear
  • Proboscis Monkeys
  • Badau or Wild Ox
  • Pitcher plants species of Nepenthes Stenophylla, Nepenthes Veitchii, Nepenthes Veitchii-Stenophylla hybrid, Nepenthes Tentaculata, Nepenthes Hirsuta and Nepenthes Reinwardtiana.

Tour Operators

You can take the tour packages from tour operators. Borneo Nature Tours and ABC Tours are among the tour operators that offer the packages to this Lost World of Borneo.

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