Batutumonga

Batutumonga

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One of the easiest places to stay overnight and also one of the most beautiful, Batutumonga occupies a dramatic ridge on the slopes of Gunung Sesean, with panoramic views of Rantepao and the Sa’dan Valley, and stunning sunrises. Located about 20km north of Rantepao via Deri, you could also day-trip here for some hiking and a local lunch.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/batutumonga

Makale

Makale

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Makale is the administrative capital of Tana Toraja), but has very few of the amenities of Rantepao). It’s a small town built around an artificial lake and set amid cloud-shrouded hills with whitewashed churches sitting atop. The market, however, is a blur of noise and colour. On the main market day, held every six days, you’ll see pigs strapped down with bamboo strips for buyers’ close inspection, buckets of live eels, piles of fresh and dried fish, and a corner of the market is reserved just for balok sales.

Though well connected to most of Tana Toraja by bemo, other than to switch buses or visit the market there’s not much reason to stick around.

Rantepao

Rantepao

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Rantepao is an easy-to-manage place that’s in striking distance of most of the major sites and has a good range of accommodation and restaurants. It’s the largest town and commercial centre of Tana Toraja), but traffic isn’t too heavy and the wide streets are fringed by greenery. It’s the obvious place to base a trip to the region. Nights can be cool and there is rain throughout the year – even in the dry season.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/sulawesi/rantepao

North of Rantepao

The north is the most scenic region of Tana Toraja), with dramatic bowls of cascading rice terraces, small villages of tongkonan and lots of harder-to-reach sights that don’t make it on every tour bus itinerary. For good shopping, go to the weaving centre of Sa’dan (12km north of Rantepao); take a bemo from Terminal Bolu for 6000Rp), where local women set up a market to sell their woven cloth. It’s all handmade on simple looms, but not all is produced in the village.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/north-of-rantepao

West of Rantepao

About 2km west across the river from Rantepao), Gunung Singki (930m) is a steep hill. There’s a slippery, overgrown hiking trail to the summit, which has panoramic views across Rantepao and the surrounding countryside. Return to the road to Siguntu (7km from Rantepao), which offers more superb views of the valleys and Rantepao.

The 3km walk from Siguntu to the Rantepao–Makale road at Alang Alang is also pleasant. Stop on the way at the traditional village of Mendoe. From Alang Alang, where a covered bridge crosses the river, head to Londa, back to Rantepao, or remain on the western side of the river and continue walking south to the villages of Langda and Madandan.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/west-of-rantepao

Tana Toraja

Tana Toraja

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A trip to Tana Toraja is like a cultural documentary brought to life. Sweeping and elaborately painted houses with boat-shaped roofs dot terraced rice paddies where farmers work the fields alongside their doe-eyed buffalo. It’s an island hemmed in by mountains on all sides and rich with traditional culture. Life for the Toraja revolves around death, and their days are spent earning the money to send away their dead properly. Funeral ceremonies bring together families who may have dispersed as far as Papua or even Australia. Buffalo and pigs are sacrificed, there is a slew of traditional dances and enough food and drink for everyone who can make it to the party. High-class Toraja are entombed in cave graves or hanging graves in the steep cliffs, which are guarded over by tau tau (life-sized wooden effigies) carved in their image – you’ll find these eerie yet beautiful cliff cemeteries scattered throughout the region.

The biggest funerals are usually held in the dry-season months of July and August, but there are funerals (even big ones) year-round. During July and August the tourist numbers swell to uncomfortable proportions and prices soar. Outside these months, you’ll share this cool countryside with the locals and only a handful of foreign travellers. While most people consider attending a funeral a highlight, Tana Toraja also offers some great do-it-yourself trekking opportunities where you can explore the fresh and clean outdoors and meet some of the most hospitable people you’ll ever encounter.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/sulawesi/tana-toraja

Around Tana Toraja

To really experience all that Tana Toraja) has to offer, you’ll need to spend a few days – or, even better, a few nights – in this tantalising countryside. Stunning scenery, cascading rice fields, precipitous cliff graves, other-worldly tau tau, hanging graves, soaring tongkonan and colourful ceremonies – this is the wild world of Tana Toraja and it lies just a short walk or ride away from Rantepao).

There are many places that can be reached via day trips from Rantepao, but longer trips are possible, staying overnight in villages or camping out. Public transport, organised tours, motorbike or mountain-bike rental, vehicle rental with a driver-cum-guide or, best of all, walking – anything is possible. The roads to major towns, such as Makale, Palopo, Sa’dan, Batutumonga, Madandan and Bittuang, are paved, but many other roads around Tana Toraja are constructed out of compacted boulders – vehicles don’t get stuck, but your joints get rattled loose. Walking is often the only way to reach the remote villages.

A few areas such as Londa, Lemo, Tampangallo, Ke’te Kesu and, to a lesser extent, Palawa have become a bit like tourist traps with lots of stalls selling trinkets and a jaded welcome, but it happened because these places are exceptionally beautiful. There are still plenty of lesser-visited gems to get to, especially if you take off on foot far from the tour-bus circuit.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/around-tana-toraja

Taka Bone Rate

Taka Bone Rate

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Southeast of Pulau Selayar and north of Pulau Bone Rate, is the 2220-sq-km Taka Bone Rate, the world’s third-largest coral atoll. The largest, Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands, is just 20% bigger. Some of the islands and extensive reefs in the region are now part of Taka Bone Rate Marine National Park (Taman Laut Taka Bone Rate), a marine reserve with a rich variety of marine and bird life.

There is no official accommodation on the islands, but if you manage to get here you can stay with villagers if you ask the kepala desa (village head) at Bone Rate on Pulau Bone Rate. Boats leave irregularly from Selayar. Most visitors are divers on liveaboard trips.

Pulau Selayar

Pulau Selayar

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This long, narrow island lies off the southwestern peninsula of Sulawesi and is inhabited by the Bugis, the Makassarese and the Konjo. Most reside along the infertile west coast and in Benteng, the main town. Like at Pantai Bira, Selayar’s long coastline is a repository of flotsam from nearby shipping lines, perhaps accounting for the presence of a 2000-year-old Vietnamese Dongson drum, kept in an annexe near the former Benteng Bontobangun (Bontobangun Fort), a few kilometres south of Benteng.

Selayar’s main attractions are its sandy beaches and picturesque scenery. The snorkelling near small Pulau Pasi, opposite Benteng, is good, but you will have to charter a boat.

Stay at Selayar Island Resort, a posh place perched on a rocky outcrop next to its own beach. There’s a range of comfortable rooms as well as a dive centre that leads dives to some extraordinary, little-visited sites.

There is a daily ferry (two hours, 75,000Rp) from Pantai Timur harbour near Pantai Bira to/from Pamatata on Selayar. The hotel should know the current schedule (it was 10am at the time of research) or can arrange private transport. Buses leave Terminal Mallengkeri in Makassar each morning to link with the ferry from Pantai Bira.

Pulau Kayangan

Pulau Kayangan

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This tiny island is cluttered with strange tourist attractions and is not great for swimming (although plenty of locals do it). It’s very busy on Sundays, but almost completely empty for the rest of the week. Some of the restaurants around the island are positioned over the water, and many are perfect for sunsets.

Charter a boat from the special jetty in Makassar for around 300,000Rp return.

Palopo

Palopo

Palopo

Palopo or Kota Palopo is one of the autonomous cities (municipalities) in South Sulawesi Province of Indonesia, and the third-largest city in the province. Until it acquired its autonomy, Palopo was the capital of Luwu Regency. The population of the city was 148,033 at the 2010 Census.[1]

Pulau Samalona

Pulau Samalona

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A tiny speck just off Makassar, Pulau Samalona is popular for fishing and snorkelling, particularly on Sundays. Otherwise, there’s nothing much to do – it takes a full two minutes to walk around the island. If you ask around, you can buy cold drinks and fresh fish meals. Snorkelling gear is also available. Compared to Makassar harbour, the water’s pretty clear!

To get here you will have to charter a boat for about 350,000Rp one way from the special jetty in Makassar and prearrange to be picked up later. On Sunday you can probably share a boat with some day-trippers.

Pulau Lihukan & Pulau Betang

Pulau Lihukan & Pulau Betang

Lihukan

Weavers at Ta’Buntuleng make heavy, colourful cloth on hand looms under their houses. On the pretty beach west of the village there is an interesting old graveyard, and off the beach there are acres of sea grass and coral, but mind the currents and sea snakes. To see the best coral, which is further out, you’ll need a boat. In fact, you’ll need to charter a boat to visit Lihukan and the nearby, uninhabited Pulau Betang, also known as Pulau Kambing.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/pulau-lihukan-pulau-betang