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 Aston Hotel 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 limestone cliffs as well as taking a boat journey to explore further. Return to Makassar for the evening. Overnight Hotel Pantai Gapura 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 a traditional Bugis house, stopping for a drink at a local villa. We then drive to a local waterfall taking lunch in a nearby restaurant. After lunch we head to Bira, a pretty village situated on the coast. We will arrive in Bira late afternoon / early evening. Overnight Bara Beach Hotel or similar. (BL) 

Day 4 – Bira

Take small boats to a nearby island, where you can snorkel (available to rent locally) 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. Overnight Pondok Ela or similar. (B) 

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. We depart and head to the highlands of Tanah Toraja, home to some of Sulawesi’s most intriguing customs and a stronghold of traditional architecture. Lunch is taken with a local family. We pass Palopo and onwards through Toraja to our final destination for the day, Rantepao, a market town in the highlands.(Approx 5 hours drive) Overnight Hotel Heritage or similar. (BL) 

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 dead, 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. For lunch, 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

A free day to explore the region further. A range of walks, treks and hikes of varying ability can be arranged which will allow you to gain a further insight into some of the more rural parts of the region. Overnight Hotel Heritage or similar. (B) 

Day 9 - Makassar

A long drive as we take a different route through interesting and varied scenery taking us back to Makassar where we will spend the night. Overnight Hotel Pantai Gapura 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 (approx. 2 hours) in search of its interesting wildlife. A photo permit is payable locally (RP30.000) Overnight Tangkoko Lodge or similar. (BD) 

Day 11 – Tangkoko - Tomohon

This morning we take another walk in the forest in search of wildlife, (approx. 3 hours ) 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 Mt. View or similar. (BLD) 

Day 12 – Mahawu Volcano
This morning we will 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. We then travel 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 (either walk or car) 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 Sedona 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 Cocotinos Hotel or similar. (BL) 

Please note: A local permit is payable locally of RP50.000 and snorkel equipment can be rented for approx. RP100.000 

Day 15 – Manado

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