The Sulawesi Explorer Small Group Holiday

Indonesia - Sulawesi Explorer

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 15 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers


Day 1 - Makassar

On arrival in Makassar, the capital of Sulawesi, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Overnight at Aston Hotel or similar

Day 2 – Makassar

Today will be spent exploring Makassar by public transport accompanied by your guide. We begin with a visit to two markets in Makassar, a fish and a vegetable-fruit market, where you will purchase the necessary ingredients for a cooking class later today. We will cross the river by local ferry to a small village, where the cooking class will take place in the traditional kitchen of a local Bugis house. It is a rural setting, surrounded by rice fields, fish ponds and abundant gardens, so you feel as if you are in the countryside. In the village you will see many traditional Buginese houses on stilts. We will return to the centre and see some of the sights of Makassar including Fort Rotterdam, and Paotere Harbour, with its dozens of traditional wooden ships. Overnight at Aston Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 3 – Rantepao, Tanah Toraja (323 kms, approx. 9 hours)

After breakfast we leave Makassar for the highlands of Tanah Toraja, home to some of Sulawesi’s most intriguing customs, and a stronghold of traditional architecture. Lunch is taken in the home of a local family. We pass Enrekang driving onwards through Toraja to the market town of Rantepao. Overnight at Heritage Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 4 –Tanah Toraja

We spend today exploring this remarkable region to gain a picture of the culture of past and present Toraja. We 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, including 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 local people prepare a typical Toraja meal for us. Overnight at Heritage Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 5 - Tanah Toraja

Today we will continue to explore the area, walking and driving through the countryside, which will offer a further insight into the rural life of the region. Overnight at Heritage Hotel or similar. (B)

*Please note that the format of the above two days will change if the opportunity to attend a funeral ceremony arises.

Day 6 – Sengkang (204 kms, approx. 5 hours 20 mins)

Leave Tanah Toraja for the small town of Sengkang where we will visit a silk weaving shop making beautifully coloured local garments. Overnight at BBC Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 7 – Lake Tempe- Malino (223 kms, approx. 6 hours 30 mins)

Early in the morning we board traditional colourful motorised canoes, travelling along the Walennea River to Lake Tempe. The lake is very scenic and is home to a number of species of birds, who share it with local fishermen, some of who live in floating villages where we will take tea/coffee in one of the floating houses. We continue to the refreshingly cool market town of Malino, which lies on the lower slopes of Mount Bawakaraeng, and was once the favourite weekend retreat for the colonial Dutch. Overnight at Villa Tengah Sawah. (BL)

Day 8 –Malino

Today we will take a walk through the surrounding area of Malino, approx 4-5 hours. We will start from your accommodation following a path uphill and downhill, crossing a small river via a bamboo bridge or if broken (which often happens!) by wading through the river. We will pass the Biroro waterfall with the chance to bathe- the views are amazing. A simple lunch will be served at a local home from where there are views towards the river and the Ta’kapala waterfall. After lunch it will be an hour before we reach the end of the walk. A car will pick you up and will take you back to your guesthouse, and enroute we can stop at several waterfalls for a swim.Overnight at Rumah Tengah Sawah (BL)

Day 9 - Maros- Bantimurung National Park- Leang Leang Caves- Makassar (140 kms, approx. 5 hours)

Begin our return to Makassar with a visit to the lovely Bantimurung National Park, situated in an area of limestone cliffs, rice fields and small villages. The park is celebrated for its butterflies and waterfalls, and we can explore on foot and by boat. Nearby are the Leang Leang caves known for their surviving ancient paintings. We will continue on to Makassar in the evening. Overnight at Aston Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 10 – Manado – Tangkoko (70 kms, approx. 2 hours 30 mins)

Fly from Makassar to Manado in the north of Sulawesi (2 hours) and transfer to the Tangkoko Batuangas Reserve, where we take an afternoon walk (approx. 3 hours) in search of its unusual wildlife, including Tarsiers and Cuscus Bears. Overnight at Tangkoko Lodge or similar. (BD)

Day 11 – Tangkoko - Tomohon (70 kms, approx. 2 hours 30 mins)

This morning we take another walk in the forest in search of wildlife (approx. 3 hours), before continuing on. 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 at Highland Lodge or similar. (BD)

Day 12 – Mahawu Volcano

This morning we will visit the colourful market of Tomohon. The Minhasa are known for eating most things and you will find some unusual “ingredients” ready to take home and cook. We then head to the rim of Gunung Mahawu, an active volcano which gives us great views of its crater lake as well as of the surrounding area, including the nearby island of Bunaken. We reach it by a combination of driving and walking (it entails climbing around 250 steps). After descending the rest of the day is free to explore the town. Overnight at Highland Lodge or similar. (BD)

Day 13 – Manado (60 kms, approx. 2 hours)

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 at Cocotinos or similar. (B)

Day 14 – Bunaken Island

Today our destination is 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 then take lunch on the beach before heading back to Manado. Overnight at Cocotinos or similar. (BL)

Please note: Snorkelling equipment can be rented for approx. RP100.000 (£6)

Day 15 – Manado

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