Payeh Maga Highlands, Limbang
Payeh Maga, which means swampy highlands in the Lun Bawang language, has three peaks. They are Gunung Doa which stands at 570m, Gunung Tuyo (1,752m) on the east side and Gunung Matallan (1,828m), the highest peak, on the west quadrant.
Forest Department Sarawak had carry out a survey on the area’s avifauna and the survey showed Payeh Maga has over 180 bird species including 27 endemic bird species, comprising over 50% of the Bornean total.
Among the species endemic to Borneo found in Payeh Maga are Bornean Banded Pitta Pitta schwaneri, Black Oriole, Bornean Green Magpie Cissa jefferyi and Bornean Bulbul Pycnonotus montis. Bigger birds such as hornbills and eagles are often spotted soaring in the area as well.
Located at the far northeastern of Sarawak, this area is already known for nature-based activities, particularly bird-watching. Payeh Maga is also situated within the Heart of Borneo (HoB) area of Sarawak. Many waterfalls and rock stream with high aesthetic values for nature-based tourism spots are also found in this place.
Payeh Maga, nearly two hours drive from Lawas town or about 70km through bumpy logging track is an important area for birds and other forms of wildlife.
Visitors to Payeh Maga normally spend a night or two at neighbouring Lun Bawang village called Long Tuyo before putting on their hiking and camping gear the next day. Long Tuyo is 7km away from Payeh Maga. With support from Forest Department Sarawak, villagers have built basic shelters, Camp One located 965m above sea level and Camp Two (1,590m), to cater for researchers who are doing work in this area.
Fly Miri to Lawas on Twin Otter and meet on arrival at Seri Malaysia Hotel. Proceed to Matalan Homestay by 4WD which journey will takes about 3 hours. Overnight in Homestay.
Due to flight cancellation from Miri to Lawas, our team have to re-arrange our itinerary and route due to limited seats available on the next flight. On the next day Yusup and Amirul have to fly to Limbang and by land crossing Brunei via Temburong as passport were needed for this route. The other three have taken the direct flight to Lawas and bound to meet up in Lawas.
Upon arrival in Lawas town everyone managed to gathered and meet up in Seri Malaysia Hotel.
1600hrs: After boarding our bags into two of the 4WD, we then began to travel off track heading to Matalan Homestay. From Lawas town, our 4WD journey will takes us about 2 hours to reach Matalan Homestay for our night stay.
Matalan Homestay is one of the homestay operators in Lawas district.
1800hrs: We were greeted by the host, Mr. and Mrs. Tom. That evening we had delicious local home cooking of the Lun Bawang dishes. Local hospitality at their best which certainly will bring good memories for everyone during their stay here.
After breakfast, we start our journey by taking 4WD (30 minutes) to reach the starting point before trek up to Payeh Maga. Along the trails we will encounter wild orchids, Pitcher plants, mini waterfalls and birds. The trek will takes about 3 hours to reach camp 1. Suggested to leave behind our bags and ration so that we can travel light to reach camp 2 which is another 3 more hours.
Upon reaching camp 2, have an hour rest and to do bird watching activity. Another attraction nearby is the beautiful waterfall which is just 10 minutes away from camp 2. After exploring the area, then we proceed back to camp 1 for overnight.
0700hrs: Having breakfast and a quick shower for an early start of the day.
0815hrs: Leaving the guesthouse but before that we all make sure to bring along the packed ration and also to wear the best foot gear for our Payeh Maga treks.
The distance from our guesthouse towards the foot hill is about an hour. Unfortunately our 4WD couldn’t bring us to the actual site due to land erosion and the road is partly damaged.
0845hrs: It’s time to unload our bags and let the adventure begin!
The site encompassed the stretch of logging road from where the road begins a steep uphill incline past Gunung Doa (800m) to the base of the Payeh Maga plateau (1400).
10.30hrs: Arriving to camp 1 and stop for 30 minutes for our lunch break. We leave behind our bags in camp 1 for we decided to trek up the Payeh Maga plateu only in a day trip.
1100hrs: From Camp 1 we then proceed to trek up to Camp 2. It took us about 3 hours to reach the summit, where we had an hour rest. Some of us continued to visit the nearby waterfall. Bird watching is recommended from this point.
1500hrs: Return to Camp 1 on that same evening where we stay overnight and rest for the day.
Great food provided by our guides and everyone happen to sleep early for we need to have enough rest for the next day.
0600hrs: After breakfast we pack our things for another early start trekking for our return.
0900hrs: Reach our pick-up point as promised and by 4WD we are back to the road heading back to Matalan homestay. Upon arrival everyone went straight to the nearby stream for a refreshing swim and body cleansing from all the mud!
1000hrs: After extending our thanks and farewell, we then proceed back to Lawas town by 4WD.
1230hrs: Arrive Lawas airport to check in for our return flight to Miri and Kuching.
We really appreciate the kindness of our host, Uncle Tom and Aunty Mariana for their hospitality.
Land – 4WD services can be arranged with Local tour operators whereby daily 4WD service can also be found operating between Lawas town and Ba kelalan.
Flight – MASWings currently operate regular Twin Otter turboprop flights to and from Miri and also with connection to Ba kelalan.
Land – Road condition can be bad since the road is entirely logging trunk road and drivers need to be extra careful along the journey especially for those first timer.
Flight – Due to bad weather condition flights to Lawas might sometimes cancelled and this will delay the actual program.
Mohd Amirul Bong Abdullah
Tourist Coordinator, VIC Miri, Sarawak Tourism Board