The Bornean Hidden Valley
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The Bornean Hidden Valley
Imbak Canyon Conservation Area is located almost right in the heart of Sabah, just north of the famous Maliau Basin. It is in the Yayasan Sabah Forest Management Area, approximately 80 kilometers south of Telupid.

Geographical features

The area inside Imbak Canyon displays a system of sub parallel streams trending approximately N-S to the main Imbak River, which flows from the west to the east. The orientation and shape of the Canyon follows the main Imbak River system. The 25km long Canyon averages about 750m deep and about 3km wide. The floor of the Canyon lies about 150m above sea level whereas the rim of the Canyon rises to over 1500m above sea level on the southern ridge. A broad valley floor characterizes the Canyon with gentle slopes on its northern and southern sides, the slopes abruptly becoming steep near the rims of the Canyon.

Headward erosion along the N-S trending river tributaries has created v-shaped valleys and several waterfalls. Along the North Tributary of Imbak River, deep gorges, up to 50m wide and 30m deep, have been carved into the recent alluvium (boulders and gravel) and bedrock (sandstone and mudstones).

Imbak Canyon
Kuli Falls - Photo by Norhayati A.

With a total area of about 30,000 hectares, Imbak Canyon Conservation Area encompasses two ridge-top Virgin Jungle Reserves plus the Canyon itself and makes a significant contribution to the coverage of protected areas in the centre of Sabah.

The Canyon is a Class II Commercial Forest Reserve, part of the one million hectare Yayasan Sabah Forest Management Area. In 2003, Yayasan Sabah voluntarily designated Imbak Canyon as a Conservation Area for the purpose of research, education and training, similar to Maliau Basin and Danum Valley Conservation Areas. Only two expeditions have so far been carried out in the area, one in 2000 organized by Sabah Forestry Department and located at the mouth of the Canyon, and the second in 2004, organized by Yayasan Sabah and focusing on the centre of the Canyon.