Sabah’s Taralamas River Canyon: A hidden treasure and geological wonder


Photos By LEON KUAN

The journey to the canyon offers the opportunity to encounter a rich variety of flora and fauna along the way,

Deep within Sabah’s lush rainforests lies a hidden treasure, promising an adventure of a lifetime – the Taralamas River Canyon.

This geological wonder, dating back 15 million years, is located in Ranau and offers a mesmerising fusion of natural beauty, exhilarating river escapades, and a rich cultural history.

As one steps into the mystical Taralamas River Canyon, also known as Tolungan Daralamas River Canyon, one is filled with wonder at the sheer magnificence of the environment and its surroundings.

The geological features of the canyon, carved over countless millennia by the unwavering flow of the Sungai Widu, are nothing short of spectacular.

The canyon adventure is not merely about exploration; it’s also about supporting local communities and embracing ecotourism.The canyon adventure is not merely about exploration; it’s also about supporting local communities and embracing ecotourism.

The rock walls, with horizontal layers marking the many centuries, bear witness to the relentless passage of time, resembling towering structures that reach up to six stories. This geological masterpiece showcases nature’s artistry and the intricate dance of water and rocks over countless aeons.

The smooth rock walls even reflect images, creating the sensation of entering a dream world.

The journey into the canyon starts with a hike through the rainforest, guided by friendly locals from Kg Tiang Lama.

The jungle trail may become muddy if it rains, and the final leg of the hike can be a bit challenging due to the slippery terrain.

Despite the obstacles, the journey is enriching, offering glimpses of wildlife such as hornbills and smaller mammals crossing your path along the jungle route.

The journey into the canyon starts with a hike through the rainforest.The journey into the canyon starts with a hike through the rainforest.

It also provides the opportunity to encounter a rich variety of flora and fauna – the exotic jungle plants, herbs, and various butterfly species endemic to Borneo island, like the Bornean swallowtail and sawtooth.

The abundance of wildlife in this area is a testament to its rich biodiversity. And that’s only the beginning.

The magical journey starts at Sungai Widu after a lengthy two-hour hike.

This pristine river is serene and inviting, perfect for unwinding and immersing oneself in natural beauty. The water takes on an emerald hue, creating a stunning backdrop for the area.

The real adventure starts at the mouth of the canyon, which ranges from two to six metres in width, not far from the Sungai Widu riverbank.

For safety reasons, you must don a life vest and safety helmet before entering the canyon.

Secret garden: The entrance to the Taralamas river canyon.Secret garden: The entrance to the Taralamas river canyon.

As one navigates the narrow opening of this natural towering tunnel, spanning approximately 200m, the scenery is just enchanting. Sunlight filters through the green canopy above, casting a play of light and shadow.

The canyon, flush with flowing water, can be divided into several sections.

These include a massive sandstone wall with an open-top chamber, a sandy island patch in the middle, and a dark and narrow tunnel cave at one end of the canyon.

The water’s depth in the canyon varies, being shallow during the dry season and chest-deep with a current in the wet season.

Ropes are available to guide explorers within the canyon, ensuring safety against the current.

The canyon was formed when the relentless force of water gradually eroded layers of sedimentary rocks made up of dark mud and soft sand, shaping the river.

These rocks originate from the Trusmadi Formation, deposited on the ocean floor around 60 million years ago.

Exploring the canyon’s natural labyrinth, created by the flow of the water millions of years ago, can be a lifetime experience.Exploring the canyon’s natural labyrinth, created by the flow of the water millions of years ago, can be a lifetime experience.

According to geologists, the canyon came into existence approximately 15 million years ago when the sedimentary rock rose from the sea floor to become land.

Remarkably, the canyon predates Mount Kinabalu, which is believed to have been formed around 7 million years ago.

The canyon, discovered in the 1930s but long known to the indigenous people, is a captivating testament to Sabah’s ancient geological history, especially during the Paleogene Period, and how the earth’s surface has evolved over millions of years.

However, the canyon isn’t just a geological marvel; it’s also steeped in local legends and history.

The name “Taralamas” comes from the indigenous term “Dalamas”, which signifies a “riverbank adorned with substantial rocks.”

According to traditional belief, guardian spirits watch over the canyon, and disrupting the tranquility of the place by speaking loudly or removing water-shaped rocks may lead to unfortunate consequences.

For generations, this place has also served as a fishing ground for nearby villagers, who performed rituals to ensure a bountiful catch while respecting the spirits inhabiting the canyon.

There are even old tales of a dog and a deer that fell into the canyon during a hunting expedition, transforming into rock formations. The canyon adventure is not merely about exploration; it’s also about supporting local communities and embracing ecotourism.

Kampung Tiang Lama is home to friendly villagers deeply connected to the land, and such adventures contribute to their sustainable development, preserving their culture and traditions while fostering an appreciation for the pristine natural environment they call home.

Embarking on this expedition guarantees an unforgettable experience, one that will leave an indelible mark on your soul.

It offers a chance to witness the splendour of nature while participating in meaningful ecotourism.

So, lace up your boots, embrace your adventurous spirit, and prepare for a once-in-a-lifetime journey into the heart of the river canyon.

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starextra , staroutdoors

   

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