Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lemaing Eco Camp

Lemaing - The Sir Hugh Low Expedition Camp
The three villages of Kiau are situated at the foot of Mount Kinabalu in the heart of Sabah. For most people coming to the East Malaysian state, visiting or even climbing the highest mountain in Southeast Asia is on top of their list. But only very few know that the popular trail leading up the mountain is not the one that was used on the very first documented ascent in 1851. Approaching Mount Kinabalu from Kiau, you follow the historic trail past the picturesque Minitinduk Gorge all the way along the Kadamaian River. On the way, you reach a bamboo construction that looks as if it may become some kind of fancy house someday. This is Lemaing - The Sir Hugh Low Expedition Camp.

Crossing the Kadamaian  River
Mister Lemaing was one of the porters who had accompanied the British colonial Sir Hugh Low on the first ascent to Mt. Kinabalu's summit more than 160 years ago. They had started this historic trek in the villages of Kiau, just outside the boundaries of the world heritage site of Kinabalu Park. Since 1924 when another, easier route was discovered, tourists have been brought up Mt Kinabalu starting in The Park's headquarters and Sir Hugh Low's original trail was forgotten.

It was only last year that Lemaing's descendants and today's guides and porters decided they wanted their villages to benefit from Mt Kinabalu's fame as well. Most of all, they wanted to promote and share the beauty of the historic trail along the crystal-clear water of the Kadamaian River. And last weekend, I got the chance to walk along this trail and to take a look at the emerging figure of Lemaing - The Sir Hugh Low Expedition Camp evolving in the middle of the virgin jungle.

Starting from Kiau, it took us roughly 45 Minutes all the way along the Kadamaian River which we had to cross five times. And then we reached Lemaing, located on the top of a hill where it is safe from high water levels of the river during the rainy season.

Lemaing - The Sir Hugh Low Expedition Camp

Bamboo bridge to the other side of the river
Since it is located directly at the river, the cold water is an immediate invitation for a quick bath. If the water is shallow, you can move around the bigger stones and build your own little river pool. Even though it gets quite cold at night, the evening shower in the clean river is a very refreshing and exciting experience.

Walking further up the river towards Mount Kinabalu you reach a beautiful gorge called Minitinduk. This place is an important part of local stories and culture. Only a 30min trek away from Lemaing, the stunning view of the gorge forming right above the river at the foot of the mountain is definitely worth a visit. Unfortunately I did not get to take a picture, because walking along the river I decided not to bring along my camera. By the way: You can either simply follow the river in order to reach both Lemaing and Minitinduk, or choose a true jungle trek through the rainforest. I recommend to take one of those experienced guys from Kiau with you, if you choose option number two.

The temporary staff quarters
It was a true jungle experience to spend one night in the rainforest, far away from civilization and luxury. The building team has built their own camp across the river where they usually stay overnight when not going back to their village. It was very basic with a few bamboo mats to sleep on, a few bamboo canes to sit on and some covers against the rain.That's where we cooked, ate, talked and slept. The night was very exciting, sleeping in the midst of the building team and architects and with the soothing sound of the Kadamaian River running down towards Kiau.

It's a beautiful jungle trekking experience without having to be extremely fit to still enjoy it. I am certain that Lemaing, once it's finished, will offer a unique overnight stay in the rainforest of Kiau right at the foot of Mount Kinabalu. I will keep you updated on its progress!



  1. This ECO camp looks incredible!

    Preserving the land and the cultural fabric within it is a HUGE focus for me.

    On my last trip, I was so inspired I created THE PENAN CHILDREN'S BOOK!

    Check it out....

    1. I am glad you are fighting for land and culture preservation as well. What you are doing looks great - keep up the good work!

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  3. Nice sharing! Your information is helpful for all tourists. It is really amazing and beautiful place. I have great experience to go there with my friends. I have been visited this place before my niagara falls tours. The natural beauty scene is very attracting the eyes.