Sabah’s last true wilderness, and one of the world’s oldest rainforests, the MALIAU BASIN CONSERVATION AREA ( remains barely explored; most visitors are scientists or researchers. Featuring various types of forest including lower montane, heath and dipterocarp, the basin is home to an impressive range of large mammals, notably the Borneo pygmy elephant, clouded leopard, Malayan sun bear and banteng (wild cattle), while birds include rare species found otherwise only at Gunung Kinabalu and Gunung Trus Madi.

To visit you must be on a tour, for which Borneo Nature Tours ( are the sole providers. The standard five-day itinerary starts at Tawau, a five-hour drive from the park, and includes long and strenuous hikes suitable only for the fit. You’ll need a doctor’s certificate to prove this, plus insurance that covers helicopter evacuation. The itinerary follows a circular route, spending the first and last night in dorms at the spartan Agathis Camp close to the park entrance, and the rest at the similarly basic Nepenthes (aka Camel Trophy) Camp, six hours’ walk deeper. Also included are night drives and a side-trip to the Maliau Falls.

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