Sulawesi Toraja Highlands tour

Sulawesi is a delightful potpourri of people and cultures and is probably one of the most interesting regions of Indonesia. In the south are the seafaring races of the Bugis and Makassarese, in the north are the friendly folk of the Manado-Minahasa area, and in the central highlands are the Toraja people with their fascinating funeral rites.
Arriving into Makassar we suggest an overland tour which will take in Sengkang and Tana Toraja. The highlight will almost certainly be to see at first hand the Torajan Graves where relatives have buried their ancestors high on the cliff faces in the company of wooden effigies. From Tana Toraja, you can either return to Makassar or proceed northwards to Palu and onwards to Manado. Manado is famous with divers and snorkellers the world over for its incredible offshore reefs and Bunaken Sea Gardens.

Best time for this itinerary: is during dry season from Jun to September,

Touring style: Professional English speaking guide and driver, private basis.

Sulawesi Toraja Highlands tour at a glance
  • Day 1: Arrival Makassar.
  • Day 2: Makassar to Sengkang
  • Day 3: Sengkang to Rantepao
  • Day 4: Southern Toraja tour
  • Day 5: Northern Toraja tour
  • Day 6: Departure via Pare Pare
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Day 1: Arrival Makassar

On arrival, meet and greet and transfer to your hotel.

Overnight in Makassar.

Distance and journey time:

Makassar Hasanudin International Airport – Makassar City centre (17 km): 30 minutes

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Day 2: Makassar to Sengkang

Start the day with a walk to the bustling Paotere harbour to see the Bugis Phinisi Schooner shipbuilders and Makassar’s famed landmark, the 17th century Fort Rotterdam. Take a walk along Somba Opu Street where you will see a full display of local handicrafts.

Continue your drive to Sengkang, the former capital of the Bugis kingdom. Visit a traditional silk factory, where women hand spin and weave silk cloth and make visits to floating houses and fishermen’s villages. In the early evening, there is an opportunity to catch the sunset views over Lake Tempe.

Overnight in Sengkang.

Makassar – Sengkang (190 km): approximately 6 hours

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Day 3: Sengkang to Rantepao

Rise early this morning to catch the spectacular sunrise over Lake Tempe. Take a local longboat to one of the traditional floating houses for coffee with a local family. Start your drive through winding roads and dramatic landscapes to Rantepao, the capital of Toraja. The Toraja ethnic group is renowned for their unique culture, elaborate funeral rites, traditional houses and spectacular carving and dancing.

Overnight in Rantepao.

Distance and journey time:

Rantepao – Enrekang (91 km): approximately 3 hours

Enrekang – Sengkang (103 km): approximately 3 hours 40 minutes

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Day 4: Southern Toraja touring

Visit the traditional Buffalo market in Bolu. (this is held once a week) 

Head south to visit two traditional villages, the Lemo and Suaya villages which are enveloped by cliff graves and hanging effigies. Visit Londa village where wooden coffins are suspended by ropes and poles. Continue to Kete Kesu, a village which has one of the finest ensembles of Tongkonan traditional houses and rice barns. These boat-shaped houses have tall roofs made of slender bristles and create strange silhouettes in the sky.

Overnight in Rantepao.

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Day 5: Northern Toraja touring and soft trek

Visit Batutumonga to enjoy superb views over Rantepao and the surrounding valleys. Travel to Pallawa, a village on a small hill with more ‘Tongkonan’ houses, rice barns and granaries.

A one-hour soft trek through views of rice fields dotted with large black volcanic rocks will take you to the villages of Lempo and Tinongbayo where you will have the opportunity to observe their traditional lifestyle and customs and admire their impressive Tongkonan houses. Stop at a Todi weaving factory in Sa’dan where the ancient technique and motifs for Torajans textile known as Ikat’s are preserved.

Overnight in Rantepao.

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Day 6: Departure via Pare Pare

Depart to Makassar with a stop at Carawali Village and Pare Pare for lunch. Arrive at Makassar airport for departure or continue your Indonesian adventure.

Distance and journey time:

Rantepao to Pare Pare (175km): approximately 5 hours 30 minutes

Pare Pare - Makassar (155 km): approximately 4 hours 30 minutes

Highlights

Sulawesi: Toraja Highlands and traditions

Sulawesi’s instantly recognisable geographical outline is as uniquely distinct as the natural and cultural riches it contains.
From the traditional boat builders of Bira, and its flawless white sand beaches, to the floating fishing villages and silk weavers of Sengkang.

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Tana Toraja: tribal culture and spectacular scenery

Hidden for centuries from the outside world by its remote location in Sulawesi’s central highlands, Tana Toraja remains in many ways the land that time forgot.

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Accommodation

Rantepao, Superior Class
Toraja Heritage Hotel

Set at an altitude of 700m, the hotel, designed in a style faithful to a traditional Torajan clan house, enjoys sweeping, panoramic mountain views.

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Sengkang, Sulawesi, Basic Class
BBC Hotel

Located close to the floating fishing villages of Tempe Lake, the hotel is recently built, comfortable, and modernist in style.

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