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Overview

Discover all of Sulawesi from the north to the south. Beginning at Manado in the north, explore the diversity of flora and fauna at the marine park before travelling south to learn about the local traditions and burial customs of the Toraja people and the famous traditional phinisi vessels of the Bugis people.

Trip Highlights

Sulawesi Discovery

Pristine beaches and marine life

Enjoy Bunaken National Marine Park in the north and Bira beaches in the south with water activities and more.

Wildlife and nature of north Sulawesi

Spot native species like the tarsier and celebes crested macaque,  visit a waterfall and cycle around Tondano Lake.

Toraja villages of south Sulawesi

Explore traditional houses, unusual death customs, ancient ikat weavings and gain a better understanding of the culture.

Itinerary

1

Arrive to Manado

Sam Ratulangi Airport Manado – Hotel area (14Km): approximately 30 minutes

Arrive at Sam Ratulangi International Airport in Manado (MDC). Go through immigration, baggage claim and customs and be greeted by a local guide and driver for a transfer for hotel check-in.

Recommended arrival flights (not included)

Silk Air from Singapore to Manado MI274 SIN 09:45 – MDC 13:15 (Wed, Fri, Sat & Mon)

Garuda Indonesia from Jakarta to Manado GA 602 CKG 05:30 – MDC 09:55

Note in Visa Requirements

For stays of up to 30 days, most nationalities may enter Indonesia at Manado Airport without a visa. The passport has to be valid for at least 6 months from the day of departure from Indonesia, and has to have 2 empty pages for stamps. Our travel consultants will be in touch with visa requirements.

After checking in and getting settled, the rest of the day is free to spend at leisure either exploring independently or relaxing at the hotel.

Overnight in Manado.

2

Manado – Bunaken Island – Manado

Hotel area – Bunaken NP (16Km): approximately 45 minutes by boat.

Right after breakfast set-off from the island hopping to Bunaken, Nain and Siladen Islands.

Bunaken, Nain and Siladen Islands belong to the Bunaken National Marine Park created in 1991. Regarded as one of the top scuba diving destinations the national marine park also has terrific snorkelling opportunities for non-divers.

Enjoy the islands incredibly clear turquoise waters and spend the day snorkelling off the main beaches.

Lunch will be served during the trip.

Return to the hotel in the late afternoon, and spend the rest of the day is at leisure.

Overnight in Manado.

3

Manado – Minahasa Highlands – Tomohon

Manado– Tomohon (44 km): 1 hour 20 minutes Visit at Ekayana Pagoda (a few hundred meters): walking distance Ekayana Pagoda – Tondano lake (20Km): 45 minutes Lake Tondano – Pinaras Waterfall (19Km): 45 minutes Pinaras waterfall – Woloan (6Km): 15 minutes

After breakfast this morning, be transferred to the small town of Tomohon in the Minahasa Highlands.

Have a stop at the Yesus Memberkati Statue, and then continue to Tomohon Market. At this colourful and lively market there are plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables on display and as well, a section of bush meat, displaying everything from bats to rats and many more – certainly not for everyone’s taste. (Please note: A visit to this section of the market is possible but not recommended.)

Then, embark today on a discovery of the Minahasa Highlands. Continue for a short stop at Woloan, one of the last villages where the wooden typical Sulawesian-style houses that can be seen everywhere along the roadside are still made (not everyday activities can be observed). Arrive at Pinaras Waterfall for a short trek down the 180 stairs (path can be slippery towards the waterfall), to experience the fresh spray of the 40 metre high waterfall.

Visit Linow Lake, where the smell of Sulphur fills the air and the fascinating turquoise surface of the lake indicates its volcanic origin. Relax with a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy a local specialty which is typical in Indonesia: fried banana. However, here in North Sulawesi, fried banana is not enjoyed with honey or sweet dips, but is served with spicy chili sauce.

Visit the neighbouring Ekayana Pagoda. While North Sulawesi is mainly Christian there are also other religions such as Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism present in this multi-religious archipelago nation. On the path to the main building 18 gold-coloured so called Lohan statues line the way. They represent sinners who have returned to the right path. Should the afternoon weather permit, enjoy a panoramic 360 degree view of the surrounding highlands. Take in the breathtaking sights from the 9th story towering pagoda to Tomohon Town, Tondano Lake, Manado and the majestic Mahawu and Lokon volcanoes.  At the turtle lake try to hit a rotating bell with a coin, which may fulfil a chosen wish symbolised by the sides of the pond representing wealth, luck, fame, longevity, and happiness.

A late lunch is served at the hotel. Then, check-in at the Gardenia Country Inn which is until today the private residence of the Ratulangi family, the Indonesian Hero. The national hero’s son and his wife have been receiving international guests on a regular basis ever since many of them commented on the beauty of their residence and surrounding gardens. They established a small boutique hotel on the Highlands’s hills, overlooking the majestic and active Lokon Volcano. Be welcomed with a drink at the lobby which is actually the hallway and terrace of the family home. Check-in to the room and take some time to freshen up. 

Overnight at Tomohon.

4

Tomohon–Mahawu Volcano – Tondano Lake – Air Madidi – Tangkoko – Lembeh

Tomohon – Mt Mahawu (9 km): 20 minutes Mt Mahawu – Airmadidi (25 km): 1 hour Airmadidi – Lembeh Strait (40 km): 1 hour 30 minutes

This morning continue on the road through the Minahasa Highlands towards Lembeh Strait. On the way stop at the majestic Mount Mahawu, one of the three active volcanoes around Tomohon. A short walk up the hills leads to an observation platform at the crater rim. From here, peer into the caldera and observe the surrounding area. There is also an opportunity to walk around the crater rim and descend the slopes of the volcano to a small local warung, where coffee is served.

OPTIONAL :

Supplement for Mount Lokon ascension.

Early this morning wake up at 04:00 and leave the hotel at 04:30 to the nearby Mount Lokon. Start the trek before the first sunlight by a quarry at the foot of the mountain and ascent slowly across a lava flow. While climbing the mountain, witness sunrise over the highlands. Cross a gravel field in order to reach the rim of an active crater which lies on the slope below the actual top of the volcanoes. From here enjoy panoramic views into the surroundings with the exhilarating feeling of having reached the smoking rim with the bubbling crater beneath.

Note:

A good level of physical fitness and balance is required for the trek to Mt Lokon crater rim; the path can be narrow and is partly steep, the lava flow can be slippery. Good, sturdy shoes with a strong profile under the soles are definitely required, sneakers may be too slippery. A warm jacket is not required, but functional clothing and a windbreaker is advised. Trek approx. 2 km / way = 1.5 - 2 hours / way, depending on the speed, partly steep, a few sections require climbing with hands.

Descent to the foot of the mountain and return by vehicle to the hotel for breakfast. Get fresh, prepare for check-out and continue the trip on the road through the Minahasa Highlands towards Lembeh Strait.

Visit the shores of Tondano Lake, the largest lake of north Sulawesi.  Tondano Lake is nestled among the rolling hills of the Minahasa Highlands and there’s always a fresh breeze across its large silverish surface, which makes cycling through the lush landscapes a relaxed venture. Its shores are lined with aquaculture farms and seafood restaurants, one of which will be the host of today’s lunch.

In Airmadidi, stop to visit an ancient graveyard with sarcophagi that stand out with their peculiar shapes. The cube-shaped bases of the several hundreds and up to more than thousand-year-old burial stones keep the deceased bodies in a fetal position. The roof-shaped lid depicts images of the life scenes of the occupants.

Continue to Tangkoko National Park where the next highlight for today awaits. Go for a relaxed walk in the deep, lush forest in search of the amazing wildlife endemic to this region and protected in the national park zone. There’s never a guarantee to see animals, but the probability is very high. Rich in biodiversity, get to spot the famous Celebes crested macaque and cute tarsier, there are 127 mammals, 233 birds and 104 reptile and amphibian species. Among them is also the Sulawesi bear, dwarf cuscus and birds such as the knobbed hornbill, Sulawesi hornbill and maleo.

Continue the journey towards Lembeh Strait for an overnight stay.

5

Lembeh – Tasikoki Reserve – Manado Airport – Makasar

Makassar Hasanuddin international Airport – Makassar City Centre (17 km): 30 minutes

After breakfast, depart for an educational experience at the Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre. Meet one of the researchers and learn about the illegal trade of protected species in Southeast Asia and strategies in place to prevent it.

While walking through the premises, see how animals that have been kept in captivity are rehabilitated and prepared for release in the wilderness where they belong to their roles in the local ecosystem.

At noon, move to an observation tower by the shore with panoramic views over the rescue centre, surrounding forest and the Lembeh Strait.

Note: Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre is closed on Saturdays and Sundays

Lunch at leisure en route and continue to Sam Ratulangi Airport for flight departure to Makassar.

Recommended flights (not included in package and quoted separately – airfares and schedules subject to change without prior notice): Garuda Indonesia from Manado to Makassar GA485 departing at 15:10 and arriving at 16:50

Arrive at Sultan Hasanuddin Airport in Makassar on the island of Sulawesi, which was once referred to as Celebes and is sometimes called Ujung Pandang - the islanders use both names freely. In addition to being the fourth largest island in Indonesia, it also has one of the richest traditions of cultural heritage, some of the deepest history and some of the most exceptional natural wonders.

Meet with an airport assistant and be introduced to the guide and driver for a private transfer to the hotel in Makassar.

After checking in and getting settled, the rest of the day is free to spend at leisure either exploring independently or relaxing at the hotel.

Dinner at leisure.

Overnight in Makassar.

6

Makassar – Pare Pare – Rantepao

Makassar – Pare Pare (148 km): approximately 3 hours 30 minutes Pare Pare – Rantepao (175km): approximately 4 hours 30 minutes

Check out from the hotel and depart for a short sightseeing tour of Makassar before leaving for the drive to Toraja via Pare Pare. Start with a visit to the bustling Paotere Harbour to learn about the famed Bugis Phinisi Schooner shipbuilders of the region and continue to the city’s most iconic landmark, Fort Rotterdam. Recently refurbished, it is perhaps one of the best preserved Dutch forts in all of Indonesia; learn more about the diversity of Sulawesi at the La Galigo Museum.

Afterwards, the journey leads us through several villages of the Bugis people, whose stilted houses line magnificent mountain passes. Stop at a local restaurant in Pare-Pare for a late lunch.

The drive continues through the hills reaching Rantepao in the late afternoon. Rantepao is the small capital of Toraja, with an estimated population of around 450,000. The Toraja ethnic group is renowned for their elaborate funeral rites, traditional houses and spectacular carving and dancing. Here, spend the next two days exploring the Toraja villages and learning about their unique culture and customs.

Check-in to the hotel in Rantepao.

 Dinner at the hotel.

Overnight in Rantepao.

7

Southern Part of Tanah Toraja

Depend on that day road conditions, may be varian. Rantepao – Bolu Market (3 km): approximately 15 minutes Rantepao – Lemo/Suaya/Kenbira (23 km): approximately 45 minutes Bolu Market – Lemo/Suaya/Kenbira (26 km): approximately 1 hour 15 minutes Lemo/Suaya/Kenbira – Maruang (20 km): approximately 1 hour Maruang – Londa / Kete Kesu (6 km): approximately 20 minutes

This morning after breakfast, if the timing is right, have the chance to be immersed in the bustling life of the Torajan’s with a visit to their once-a-week traditional Buffalo Market in Bolu. This market is important to the local society as buffalos and pigs are an essential part of the intricate funeral ceremonies that take place here.

(Please note: Bolu Market depends on the schedule and is only held twice a week every Tuesday and Saturday. In case there is no market on the day of visit, we will replace it by a visit to a local market in Rantepao.)

Afterwards, head south of Toraja and visit two traditional villages. After exploring these cultural hotspots, head to the villages of Lemo and Suaya, which are enveloped by cliffs pierced with graves and tau tau (hanging effigies) of deceased nobility. These cliffs are also referred to as the ‘death balconies’ due to their perilous locations.

Lunch is served in a traditional ‘Liong Tongkonan’ (local name for housing structure). While enjoying some unique local food, learn about the spiritual elements of ancestral Torajan architecture.

After lunch, visit Londa Village where wooden coffins are suspended by ropes and poles extending from the cliffs. Continue to Kete Kesu, a village which has one of the finest ensembles of Tongkonan (Toraja traditional houses) on the island. These boat-shaped houses have tall roofs made of slender bristles and create strange silhouettes in the sky. The Tongkonan facades boast many carved and painted motifs and a wooden buffalo head typically adorns the wealthiest homes. Kete Kesu Village also has a rice granary of the traditional Toraja country style.

Return to the hotel late in the afternoon.

Dinner will be served in the hotel.

Overnight in Rantepao.

8

Northern Part of Tanah Toraja

Depending on the day’s road conditions the distance and journey time may vary. Rantepao – Rantepao Market MALLANGO (2 km): approximately 20minutes Rantepao – Bolu Market (3 km): approximately 15 minutes Rantepao Market/MALLANGO – Palawa/Bori/Batutumonga (35 km): approximately 2 hour 30 minutes, narrow snacky road. Bolu Market/MALLANGO – Palawa/Bori/Batutumongan(37 km): approximately 2 hour 45 minutes Palawa/Bori/Batutumonga – Mentirotiku (10 km): approximately (40) minutes Mentirotiku – 1 hour trekking start point to LEMPO (4 km): approximately 1 hour Mentirotiku – 2 hours trekking start point to BORI PARINDING (7 km): approximately 2 hours. Tinongbayo – Rantepao (22 km): approximately 55 minutes Tikala – Rantepao (8 km): approximately 25 minutes

After breakfast in the morning, head to Palawa, a typical Toraja village, and then on to the highlands of Batutumonga for stunning views across the Toraja Valley.

In this incredible surrounding, take lunch at the local Mentirotiku Restaurant.

According to preferences, take a 1 or 2-hour light trek through fascinating Toraja villages.

OPTION: 1 HOUR OR 2 HOUR TREKKING

Perched on the slopes of Mt Sesean, these villages offer beautiful views of rice fields dotted with large black rocks -remains of ancient volcanic eruptions. The one-hour trek leads through the villages of Lempo and Tinongbayo, while the easy two-hour walk leads through the villages of Bori and Tikala. In both instances, there will be an opportunity to meet locals and observe their traditional lifestyles. These villages have ancestral stone circles, part of the local lore of the Toraja people, with each stone representing an important noble who has passed away. They also feature impressive Tongkonan houses.

Return to Rantepao, with a stop at a Todi weaving factory where the ancient technique and motifs for Torajans textile known as Ikats are preserved.

Return to the hotel late in the afternoon.

Dinner at the hotel.

Overnight in Rantepao.

Please note: Between July and September (dry season) many funerals take place and during this period many Toraja migrants return home for the holidays. The program will be tailored to allow for an attendance of such ceremony during stay in Toraja if desired and possible. On weekends (Saturday and Sunday) such ceremonies do not take place, and there is never any guarantee that it will be possibly to attend

9

Rantepao – Enrekang – Sengkang

Rantepao – Enrekang (91 km): approximately 3 hours Enrekang – Sengkang (103 km): approximately 3 hours 40 minutes

After breakfast in the early morning, check out from the hotel and begin the day’s journey to Sengkang, a former capital of the Bugis kingdom which overlooks Lake Tempe, the largest lake in Sulawesi. 

Stop enroute in Enrekang for a photo facing the Erotic Mountain (basic bathrooms are available and a kiosk) and enjoy a late lunch in a local restaurant.

After lunch, proceed to Sengkang and take advantage of the beautiful scenery at sunset on Lake Tempe.

The Bugis people have a unique housing style -they float on the lake. Take this opportunity to travel on a local longboat to enjoy Bugis hospitality with a cup of tea or coffee, and maybe some fried banana (a favourite snack in Indonesia). There are about 30 houses that remain on the lake. While taking a look around, participate in the old traditions of fishing and fish drying.

Enjoy a local Bugis style dinner feast at the hotel.

Overnight in Sengkang.

10

Sengkang – Watampone – Bira Beach

Sengkang – Wantampone (67 km):approximately 2 hours Wantampone – Bira Beach (147 km): approximately 5 hours

Spend the morning at leisure before leaving the hotel for check out and to continue the journey to the beach in Bira.

Take a stop on the way to Bira at the village to visit a local silk home factory in Sengkang and continue to Watampone on the east coast of Sulawesi where lunch is served in a local restaurant.

From Watampone drive further south to Cape Bira, on the south-eastern tip of Sulawesi.

On the way there, make a stop in a Bugis village to find out the process of growing sugar, rice and kakao.

Late in the afternoon, arrive in Bira and check in to the selected hotel.

Dinner at leisure.

Overnight in the hotel.

11

Bira – Liukan – Bira

This morning after breakfast, go by local fisher boat to the nearby island of Liukan. Here spend some time snorkelling in these beautiful waters (snorkel, mask and fins provided).

After snorkelling, visit the local fishing village of Konjo and see some traditional ikat weaving.

Next, have a picnic lunch on the island after which there is some more time to explore the island or relax on the beach before returning to the mainland and the hotel.

Spending the remainder of the afternoon at leisure.

Overnight in in BIra

12

Bira – Tana Beru – Makassar

Bira Beach – Tanah Beru (12 km): approximately 30 minutes Tanah Beru – Makassar (179 km): approximately 6 hours

After breakfast at the hotel, spend some time at leisure.

Around 12:30, after check-out, depart along the south coast of Sulawesi towards Makassar.  On the way, make a stop at Tanah Beru Village, which is famous for the phinisi-style ships built there following ancient traditional methods.

We also stop in the village of Bonto Salluang for a short walk to Bissappu, a 70-metre tall waterfall set in lush tropical surroundings.

Upon arrival in Makassar, check in to the hotel.

Dinner is at leisure.

Overnight in Makassar

13

Makassar – Departure

Spend the day at leisure until pick up time to be transferred from the hotel to the airport for the next destination.

Recommended flights (not included in package and quoted separately – airfares and schedules subject to change without prior notice): Garuda Indonesia from Makassar to Denpasar GA621 departing at 19:35 and arriving at 21:00 or Garuda Indonesia from Makassar to Surabaya GA630 departing at 18:00 and arriving at 18:35.

Important Information

  • Hotel accommodation in half-twin/double room with daily breakfast.
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
  • Tours and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicles.
  • English speaking local guide (other language available).
  • All entrance fees and donations as indicated in itinerary.
  • Visa arrangements.
  • International and domestic flights.
  • International and domestic departure taxes.
  • Meals other than mentioned above.
  • Camera/video entrance fees.
  • Personal expenses (drinks, laundry, telephone, tips etc).
  • Travel insurance.
  • Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above.
  • Mount Lokon ascension

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