Imbak Canyon Waterfalls in Sabah

Waterfall at Imbak Canyon
This is the famous Imbak Canyon Waterfalls which are also called Imbak Falls, and has been one of the places which I have been longing to visit since hearing about this exotic place in 2005.

Highlights of visiting Imbak Canyon are to see one of Malaysia's most outstanding waterfalls and the unique flora and fauna that is found around here.

The sheer natural beauty of this untouched place puts it in one of the most beautiful waterfalls of Malaysia, and is not easily accessed by the common person. One needs a special permit to get here. 

Imbak Canyon Waterfalls

In 2011, I was specially invited by Cede Prudente from North Borneo Safari for the Imbak Canyon Photography Expedition, which was held from the 25th to 27th February.

The trip was also attended by avid photographers and 4x4 members from Kota Kinabalu to explore this unique and hardly explored place in Sabah Borneo.

If you are a nature enthusiast who enjoys traveling to some of the most remote places in Malaysia seeking something totally unique and different, this is the perfect place for you.

There are no regrets whatsoever as I had always wanted to see this amazing place for many years, and my dream finally came true.

To share further, I have personally been here three times from 2011 to 2013, pretty much exploring this amazing conservation in the middle of Sabah Borneo.

Map of Imbak Canyons
Map showing where exactly is Imbak Canyon
Where Is Imbak Canyon Waterfalls? 

Imbak Canyon is located just north of Maliau Basin in the center of Sabah, and the canyon is part of the Conservation of Rainforest in North Borneo spanning over 32,000 hectares of class II protected rainforest.

If you look at the Sabah map above, you will see that Imbak Canyon Conservation Centre is located smack centre in Sabah Borneo.

For detailed information about this fascinating place, visit the official Imbak Canyon website which is fully managed by Yayasan Sabah.

Air Terjun Imbak Canyon
A close up of the Imbak Waterfalls. Photo: Cede Prudente.
Imbak Canyon Photography Packages

Note that only experienced guides and rangers are required to be with you once you enter the conservation area. You are not allowed to go in by yourself.

There is basic lodging at the Tampoi Base Camp while packages include full board meals. Bathrooms are provided while the bedding area is divided for male and female visitors.

There is no mobile phone service unless you use a satellite phone there. The nearest outpost is Kampung Imbak which is a two to three hour drive from the base camp.

For further details on visiting Imbak Canyon, you can always contact me, and I can arrange with the specialized tour company that organizes these adventure trips. 

As the area is strictly controlled, you will need permission from Yayasan Sabah who manages the Imbak Canyon Conservation Area.

Waterfall at Imbak Canyon
I took this picture with my Nikon D60 and a 55-300mm Lens

How to go to Imbak Canyon?

Imbak Canyon is located 300 kilometers south east of Kota Kinabalu while the journey takes about five hours via main roads from Kota Kinabalu or 2 hours from Sandakan to the town of Telupid.

Then from Telupid, you need to drive another 2 to 3 hours via dirt and uneven roads from Telupid to the Tampoi Base Camp just outside the main conservation area.

To do this, one needs to use four wheel drive (4WD) vehicles. Depending on the weather and skills of your driving, the best time to get in would be before nightfall.

If it rains, the terrain can get very challenging and tricky, hence you will need professionals to bring you here. It is not recommended for anyone to go alone to this beautiful place.

From Kota Kinabalu to Imbak Canyon - It takes about six hours non-stop driving, and realistically, it will take you around seven hours one way.

From Sandakan to Imbak Canyon - It takes only four to five hours drive one way, and mind you that this is with good weather.

From Tawau to Imbak Canyon - It takes roughly seven and a half hours drive one way, which is the longest route to get here.

From Lahad Datu to Imbak Canyon - This journey will take you five and a half hours one way without stopping. So, make it about six and a half hours, with stops.

Please note that there are no buses that travel to Imbak Canyon, and all trips here need to be done via specialized tour companies. You can contact me to arrange for this. 


Read more about my Imbak Canyon Photography Safari and for anyone planning to visit this incredible place, which is also a Class 1 protected forest reserve in Sabah, Borneo.

While this is one of the lesser explored places in Malaysia, I would highly recommend visiting the Imbak Canyon waterfalls as it is truly one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Malaysia. 

Malaysia Asia

Blogging since 2007, but writing online since 1997. I belong to the 1st generation of worldwide bloggers, which is of course old-school. Since 2008, I created Malaysia Asia and this travel, flood, gadget and lifestyle blog has won numerous physical awards from tourism boards around Malaysia. (Not those online awards). After 12 years of blogging, I have semi-retired and now blog about things I like, do product reviews and enjoy life. My work has been featured in Lonely Planet, CNN Travel, Yahoo Travel, Wall Street Journal, and many other international publications. Find out more about me and thank you.


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