Indonesia - Sulawesi Explorer

Indonesia - Sulawesi Explorer

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 15 days
Type: GroupSmall group tours with a maximum of 12 travellers


Day 1 - Makassar

Arrive in Makassar, the capital of Sulawesi, and transfer to the hotel. Depending on your time of arrival it may be possible to stop en route at Paotere harbour, with its dozens of traditional wooden ships. The rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight Hotel Aston Makassar or similar.

Day 2 – Maros

Drive to Maros, situated in an area of limestone cliffs, rice fields and small villages. We spend our time exploring the region, visiting Leang Leang cave with superb prehistoric rock art, as well as taking a boat journey and visiting nearby waterfalls. Return to Makassar for the evening. Overnight Aston Makassar or similar. (B)

Day 3 – Malino - Bira

Drive to the refreshingly cool market town of Malino. Malino lies on the lower slopes of Mount Bawakaraeng, and was once the favourite weekend retreat for the colonial Dutch. We walk through rice fields and visit waterfalls and traditional Bugis houses, and take lunch in a nearby villa, made for us by the owners. After lunch we head to Bira, a pretty village situated on the coast. Overnight Bara Beach Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 4 – Bira

Take small boats to a nearby island, where you can snorkel and observe life on the coral reef. After a picnic lunch we visit a nearby village where we can gain an insight into local life, then head to the village of Tanah Beru. This is known for the traditional wooden pinisi boats that are made here, and we may be lucky enough to see some craftsmen at work. In the late afternoon free time allows you to take a walk in the forest near the hotel, where monkeys can often be seen. Overnight Bara Beach Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 5 - Sengkang

Drive to the small town of Sengkang to the north. On the way we stop in Tanah Tua, the home of the Kajang people. at Bantimurung National Park, dominated by its limestone cliff scenery, and walk through rice fields and villages to a cave with prehistoric paintings. We take lunch in a small Bugis village before travelling through tropical forest and ending up in Sengkang. Overnight BBC Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 6 – Lake Tempe – Tanah Toraja

Early in the morning we board traditional colourful motorised canoes, travelling through the small Walennea River to Lake Tempe, where we can see floating villages and local fishermen. We then visit some small villages nearby to see the process of traditional silk weaving. After lunch we head to the highlands of Tanah Toraja, home to some of Sulawesi’s most intriguing customs and a stronghold of traditional architecture. We pass Sanggala and the Torajan sights of Suaya and Tampang’allo, where we can see ancient graves and tau-tau puppets. Our final destination for the day is Rantepao, a market town in the highlands. Overnight Hotel Heritage or similar. (B)

Day 7 – Tanah Toraja

Spend today exploring this remarkable region to get a good picture of the culture of past and present Toraja. Visit picturesque villages located in an amazing mountainous landscape dominated by rice terraces and bamboo forests. We see the different ways the Toraja bury their death, such as the traditional ‘hanging graves’ and the well known stone graves guarded by puppets, tau-tau, high up on rocks. We also see huge richly carved traditional houses with their rice barns. In the evening we visit a small village where the local people prepare a typical Toraja meal for us. Overnight Hotel Heritage or similar. (BL)

Day 8 – Tanah Toraja

Today we will take a walk in this beautiful region. The actual walk that is taken can be discussed with your guide but will be no longer than 6 hours in total and will be done at a leisurely pace with plenty of opportunities for stops. A picnic lunch will be taken on the walk. Overnight Hotel Heritage or similar. (BL)

Day 9 - Makassar

A long drive through interesting and varied scenery takes us back to Makassar where we will spend the night. Overnight Aston Makassar or similar. (B)

Day 10 – Manado - Tangkoko

Fly from Makassar to Manado in the north of Sulawesi. We then transfer to the Tangkoko Batuangus reserve, where we take an afternoon walk in search of its interesting wildlife. Overnight Mama Roos or similar. (BD)

Day 11 – Tangkoko - Tomohon

This morning we take another walk in the forest in search of wildlife, before driving to Tomohon. We explore the fascinating Minhasa Highlands along the way, with its relics of traditional culture. This evening we visit a local home for some typical Minhasa food. Overnight Lokon Boutique Resort or similar. (BD)

Day 12 – Mahawu Volcano

We walk to the top of Gunung Mahawu, an active volcano which gives us great views of its crater lake as well as of the surrounding area including the Bunaken National Park. After descending we visit the colorful market of Tomohon. The Minhasa are known for eating everything with at least two legs, so you will find dogs, rats and bats ready to take home and to cook. The rest of the day is free to explore the town. Overnight Lokon Boutique Resort or similar. (BD)

Day 13 – Manado

Transfer back to Manado. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore this interesting cosmopolitan city – the market in particular is well worth venturing into. Overnight Tateli Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 14 – Bunaken Island

Visit Bunaken Island off the northern tip of Sulawesi. The island is part of Bunaken Marine Reserve and the sea around here is alive with stunning marine life, including turtles, whales, dolphins and rays. We take a boat out to snorkel and search for its inhabitants, and then have lunch on the beach before heading back to Manado. Overnight Tateli Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 15 – Manado

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. Tour ends. (B)