The Imbak canyon is a Class I (protection) forest reserve in southern Sabah administered by Yayasan Sabah, a company owned by the Malaysian government which also manages the Maliau basin and the Danum valley. It was designated a conservation area in 2003 and a a Class I forest reserve in 2009. Within the Imbak canyon and around it there are 45 villages which are only accessible by boat, where people still lead a traditional lifestyle.
The Imbak canyon strictly speaking is not a canyon (i.e. a narrow gorge). It's a 25km long valley, bordered on three sides by sandstone ridges, up to over 1000m high. Due to the difficult access, the forest in the Imbak canyon has never been logged and is in fact pristine primary rainforest with tall, majestic trees.
A number of species of animals and plants are endemic to the Imbak canyon. The Nepentes hirsuta, a pitcher plant species, has only been found here and in the Maliau basin.

Currently the eastern end of the Imbak canyon is open for visitors and has Accommodation and a tourist infrastructure. The Imbak canyon studies centre is located at the entrance to the Imbak canyon and has been completed in November 2016. It is a huge complex, consisting of several buildings spread over an area of 200m x 300m, with Accommodation capable of housing 600 visitors (comfortable units with air conditioning and private bathroom, as well as a hostel; electricity available from 7am to 11pm).
At the time of writing (2017) there were about 50 employees working there and the centre was receiving about 80 visitors per month, mostly researchers, but this number was expected to rise substantially. The primary purpose of the Imbak canyon studies centre is scientific research, but the centre also welcomes tourists.
In August 2017 the range of activities available for tourists was still limited: there were just two jungle trails, the canopy walkway wasn't completed yet and other attractions had yet to be added. In addition, because of all the noise which the construction of the centre generated in 2016, in August 2017 animals were avoiding the area, although it's likely that after some time the situation will relax and animals will return to the area.
It's likely that the Imbak canyon will achieve it's full tourist potential in 2018. In August 2017 for instance the restaurant hadn't opened yet and access to the Imbak canyon was hampered by the bad jungle road between Kampung Imbak and the centre; access to areas deeper in the Imbak canyon was not available yet for tourists (only for researchers).

The costs (some are optional; prices from 2017 - for accurate and up to date prices contact the Sabah Foundation; to all prices add 6% tax) include:
- conservation fee: RM 50
- hostel (dorm): RM 95/night
- ranger fee (for trekking): RM 50/hour
- cooking utensils: RM 20/day
- cooking gas & stove: RM 30/day
- transportation from Telupid to studies centre (one way; to go and come back multiply by two): RM 500
- transportation from Kampung Imbak to studies centre (one way): RM 250
There may be other fees for purposes not indicated here.

How to access the Imbak canyon: there is no need to book an expensive package through a travel agency. It's sufficient to make a reservation through the Sabah Foundation in Kota Kinabalu and then travel to the Imbak canyon by car. From Kota Kinabalu it's a 5 1/2 hours drive to Kampung Imbak via Ranau and Telupid, which can be done with a normal 2WD car (the last 18km are a good dirt track).
For the last 38km between Kampung Imbak and the Imbak canyon studies centre a strong 4WD car is needed, because the road is a very bad dirt track full of stones. These last 38km take over an hour (1:20-1:30 hours) and it's advisable to use a transfer provided by the Imbak canyon staff, because the road is not well marked and visitors might get lost. This dirt track will need to be improved, if the Imbak canyon is to achieve its full tourist potential.
01 Treetops 02 Tall tree 03 Tall tree 04 Treetops
05 Riverine trail 06 Riverine trail 07 Riverine trail 08 Riverine trail 09 Tall trees
10 Tree trunk 11 Big Belian tree 12 Tree leaves 13 Tree leaves 14 Tree leaves 15 Riverine trail
16 Forest canopy 17 Dipterocarp tree 18 Dipterocarp tree roots 19 Tall trees 20 Rainforest
21 Dipterocarp tree roots 22 Dipterocarp tree roots 23 Rainforest trail 24 Tall tree 25 Rainforest trail 26 Rainforest trail
27 Rainforest trail 28 Palm tree 29 Treetops
01 Visitor accomodation area 02 Visitor accomodation area 03 VIP lodges
04 VIP accomodation 05 Visitor accomodation area 06 VIP lodges
07 Road to staff quarters 08 Road to compound centre 09 Staff quarters
10 Kandis suspension bridge 11 Main office 12 Main office
13 Main office 14 Visitor accomodation 01 Nepenthes hirsuta pitcher plant 02 White mushrooms
03 Nepenthes hirsuta pitcher plant 04 Red mushrooms 05 White mushrooms 06 Forest plants 07 Seed of Belian tree
08 Pitcher plants 09 Nepenthes pitcher plants 10 Yellow mushrooms 11 Nepenthes pitcher plants
12 Green pitcher plants 13 Nepenthes pitcher plants 14 Green pitcher plants 15 Pitcher plants
16 Nepenthes pitcher plants 17 Green pitcher plants 18 Nepenthes pitcher plants 19 Pitcher plants
20 Nepenthes pitcher plants 21 Pitcher plants 22 Nepenthes pitcher plants 01 Kangkawat river 02 Kangkawat river
03 Kangkawat river 04 Forest stream 05 Kangkawat river 06 Imbak river 07 Imbak river 08 Imbak river
09 Forest stream 10 Imbak waterfall 11 Imbak falls
12 Imbak waterfall 13 Imbak falls 14 Imbak waterfall
15 Imbak waterfall 16 Imbak falls 17 Imbak falls 18 Imbak waterfall 19 Kangkawat river 20 Kangkawat river
21 Kangkawat river 22 Kangkawat river 23 Kangkawat river
01 Imbak canyon mountain ridge
02 Imbak canyon mountain crest
03 Imbak canyon southern ridge 04 Imbak canyon mountain crest 05 Treetops
06 Imbak canyon mountain ridge 07 Imbak canyon mountain crest
08 Imbak canyon mountain ridge 09 Kapur suspension bridge 10 Big belian research camp 11 Suspension bridge
12 Suspension bridge 13 Wooden staircase to Imbak falls 14 Trail to main office 15 Trail to main office 16 Road to Kampung Imbak
17 Night sky with star trails
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