Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA) is a mysterious and mystical wilderness area in the center of Sabah. This 116 mi² (30,000 hectares) of pristine tropical dipterocarp rainforest is located in Ulu Kinabatangan in the Tongod District, Sandakan. It is bordered by the Maliau Basin on its south and the Danum Valley on its east. This forest reserve has a unique ravine or canyon that is 0.5 mile (0.75 km) deep x 1.9 mile (3 km) wide that is sculpted out of the rocks by the Imbak River millions of years ago. Surrounded by virgin jungle with numerous cliffs which can be as high as 3,700 feet (1,127 m), this area is rich in wildlife and plants biodiversity and with many parts of it still waiting to be explored. The Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA) is especially treasured for the variety of medicinal plants that can be found here with more than 69 species found so far. Due to its rich biodiversity, Imbak Canyon have been gazette as a Class I Forest Reserve by the Sabah State government in 2008 with the aim to promote the area conservation, research, training, education and eco-tourism activities.
Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA) is the place to visit for those who seek nature and adventures during their Sabah vacation. Activities such as jungle trekking, climbing, bird watching, wildlife spotting and nature photography are popular here. For those who like jungle trekking, there are many trails or path to choose which will bring you deep into the forest area to be among the big tall trees of various species for you to enjoy the beauty of the pristine forest. During your trekking, you will have the opportunity to see some bearded pigs, squirrels, Red Leaf Monkey, Bornean Gibbo, pygmy elephants, leopards, bears, mouse deer and even the Sumatran rhinoceros if you are lucky. Take time to explore the rich flora that this area has to offer. With more than 300 plant species identify so far including various species of orchids, pitcher plant or nepenthes and fern, this area is a paradise for the botanist.
Bird watching is another popular activity here as more than 200 species of bird can be found here. Many of these species are endemic to this area only such as the Blue-headed Pitta, Black-throated Wren-Babbler, Borneon Blue Flycatcher and Borneon Bristlehead. For those who like climbing, you can climb up Mount Kuli, which is the highest mountain here. The Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA) has also a few beautiful waterfalls such as the Imbak Waterfall, Kuli Waterfall and a few others yet to be named waterfalls. Take a dip in the cool refreshing water here to relax your tired muscle after your climb or trek.
The Imbak Canyon Waterfall
Getting There: Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA) is about 186 miles (300 km) south east of Kota Kinabalu city. The road journey from Kota Kinabalu to the nearest town near the forest reserve, Telupid will take about 4 hours drive (or 2 hours drive from Sandakan city). The ICCA is about 50 miles (80 km) south of Telupid and from here to the Tampoi Base Camp which is just outside of the conservation area, the grueling road journey by 4WD will take about 2-3 hours through very hostile and muddy logging road. The Tampoi Base Camp is also the only accommodation available here.
Note: This is a protected forest reserve and as such you need a permit from its management, i.e. Yayasan Sabah to enter. Also for your safety, you must be accompanied by a ranger when entering the forest. Contact your travel agent for hassle free travel arrangement.