Maliau Basin – Lost World Of Sabah (Part 2)

It was the day we dreaded but also the highlight of the trip. We had known beforehand about the whopping 18.5 kilometres trek through the tropical heath and lower montane forest of Maliau Basin. The first half of the trek was extremely pleasant as we feasted our eyes on various species of pitcher plants and orchids. The almost flat terrain made the whole experience enjoyable as we eased our way through the misty mossy forest.

We were at the 6 kilometres mark when we had reached the intersection between Ginseng Camp and Maliau falls. From here onward, the brutal 5 kilometres descent towards the belly of the Maliau falls is enough to deter the unfit from pursuing further. We looked at each other assertively. There was no turning back now.

One of the many species of pitcher plants at the lower montane of Maliau Basin.
Taken with Nikon D3400s,Voigtländer Nokton 58mm f1/1.4 SL II S lens (exposure setting F2.8, ISO 400, 1/250).
Here is how a budding pitcher plant appears. It is smaller than the size of a human nail.
Taken with Nikon D3400S,Voigtländer Nokton 58mm f1/1.4 SL II S lens (exposure setting F2.8, ISO 400, 1/250).

Surprisingly the fatigue was drowned by the beautiful trail and wildlife around us. It was the first time I had seen a Rafflesia bud while roping my way down on the steep slopes. They usually bloom during rainy seasons.

There is no specific blooming season for Rafflesia but the rainy season is favourable. Along the trek to Maliau falls, several Rafflesia buds can be seen.
Taken with Nikon D3400s,Voigtländer Nokton 58mm f1/1.4 SL II S lens (exposure setting F8, ISO 400, 1/60).
A perfectly formed spider web.
Taken with Nikon D3400s,Voigtländer Nokton 58mm f1/1.4 SL II S lens (exposure setting f8, ISO 400, I/125).

The Red Fall Of Maliau Basin

With 2 kilometres to go, I could already hear the roaring falls. High on adrenaline, we paced our steps until we caught a glimpse of the torrential red falls.

The Magnificent 7-Tiered Red Maliau Falls.
Taken with Nikon D3400s,Voigtländer Nokton 58mm f1/1.4 SL II S lens (exposure setting f11, ISO 250, 1/250).

Many have wondered what makes the Maliau falls red. The secret lies within the Heath forest that produces tannin-rich plants that washes into the river, creating Maliau’s distinctive colour. The red waters then cascade into a magnificent 7-tiered waterfall, making it the largest in Maliau Basin Conservation Area. It was also interesting to note that the low oxygen levels in the water makes it almost uninhabitable for most fishes or any fresh water creatures.

Introducing our hiking family at Maliau Falls.
Taken with Olympus Tough TG-4 Camera (exposure setting f2, ISO 400, 1/400).

We had sat long enough by the rapid falls and soon the sky began to gloom. Certainly, it was worth the endurance test to catch such a spectacular display of waterfall but now it was time to huff and puff our way back.

The Picturesque Maliau Falls at a distance.
Taken with Nikon D3400s, Nikon18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED IF AF-S DX NIKKOR VR Lens (exposure setting f10, ISO 200, 1/500).
The colour of the falls is obvious. The rapid red waters due to the heavy downpour makes it dangerous for swimming and uninhabitable for most fishes.
Taken with Nikon D3400s,Voigtländer Nokton 58mm f1/1.4 SL II S lens (exposure setting F8, ISO 400, 1/640).

Ginseng Station

After 7 hours of trekking, our final station, Ginseng camp was at sight. I would forever remember it for its swarming bees that enveloped our clothes and gears. According to the local ranger, the rainy season had disrupted their pollination, attracting them to the flower scent rubbed off coupled with the sweat on our clothes during the trek.

At dusk, I was relieved that the bees had dissipated. I sat together with the rest of the group for our final dinner together. It was in these camps that I learnt to appreciate the simple things in life that we usually take for granted. There were no barriers of any kind, just the purest of humanistic interactions. Alas, I was more at ease with strangers who eventually became a family in the middle of the Borneo jungle.

On the very last day, I paid a visit to the nearby Ginseng falls where the waters were calmer with 2 adjacent falls. I was told that we could swim in the waters but I decided to skip due to the swarming bees that returned at dawn.

Ginseng waterfall located 300 metres from the camp.
Taken with Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.
The cast and crew that became family at Maliau Basin.
Taken with Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

The Reverie Of Maliau Basin

On the very last day of my journey, I broke away intermittently from the crowd, to complete the final 9 kilometres trail. All I could hear were the hooting sounds of the Gibbons, the high pitch songs of the Cicadas and the wistful winds weaving through the forest. Like many of my travels, I came in thinking I knew all there is about my destination but when I left, it is always with such humbling respect. And thus ended one of the most pleasantest dream in my life in a land lost in time.

Myself at Giluk Waterfall, Maliau Basin.
Taken with Nikon D3400s, Nikon18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED IF AF-S DX NIKKOR VR Lens (exposure setting f22 ISO 200 1/6).

A mystical basin at dawn.
Taken with Nikon D3400s,Voigtländer Nokton 58mm f1/1.4 SL II S lens (exposure setting f11, ISO 400, 1/125).

Special credits to Amazing Borneo tours and Sabah Tourism for their effort in promoting and boosting the beautiful travel destinations in Sabah. Visit Amazing Borneo Tours facebook page or their official website for more information on Maliau Basin and other places of interests in Sabah. Also visit Sabah Tourism FB or their official website for more information on the beautiful travel destinations in Sabah.

Most of the shots were taken with Voigtländer wide angle 58mm F1.4 lens, Rodenstock 52mm UV/1X filter and Nikon 18-300mm F3.5-6.3G zoom lens that are compatible with Nikon D3400 body. I would like to extend my gratitude to Mr Eric Goh, owner of Photo & Consumer Products Sdn Bhd, for providing the Voigtländer lens and Rodenstock filter that have allowed me to capture a timeless wonder right in the heart of the Borneo rainforest. Visit PCP website and Facebook page for more information.

The Voigtländer 58mm f1.4 SL II S Ai-S Lens, Silver
Source: Adorama
Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED IF AF-S DX NIKKOR VR Lens
Source: Adorama

Catch Maliau Basin -The Lost World of Sabah Part 1

Jeevitha KUMAR

About Jeevitha KUMAR

Hiker, mountain climber, diver, globe trotter, and all-round adventurer, she is probably one of a handful of medical doctors who has left her footprints (almost) all over the world.

3 Replies to “Maliau Basin – Lost World Of Sabah (Part 2)”

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