Sulawesi Expedition: Tana Toraja Trek

Sulawesi Expedition: Tana Toraja Trek

From $ 1,575 AUD


Experience an island that ventures way beyond the imagination. Hike deep into the mountainous core of Sulawesi and witness the compelling combination of art, ritual and death that’s central to the existence of one of Indonesia’s more confronting cultures, on an unforgettable expedition that’s not fit for the faint-hearted. Inhale the fresh mountain air and traverse dense bamboo forests, undulating landscapes and deep fertile valleys on a breathtaking trek that sees you interacting with the locals and resting in remote villages. Leave the terraces of rice paddies behind to discover elaborate wooden effigies on the cliff-face tombs of Lemo, and meet the Taroja people – who, by faithfully following ancient traditions, preserve the belief that death is all a part of life’s journey.

Trip Name
Sulawesi Expedition: Tana Toraja Trek
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  • Learn about the Ma’nene death ritual, or the ‘ceremony of cleaning corpses’ – a 900-year- old tradition where the Torajan people dig up and spend time with the dead.
  • Traverse some of Indonesia’s most stunning landscapes as you trek well away from the tourist trail, through evergreen valleys and bamboo forests, staying in traditional villages and interacting with locals.
  • Soak up the tranquil atmosphere of Ramang Ramang village as you float along the river in a traditional wooden boat, surrounded by the stunning mountainscape and acres of emerald green rice paddies.
  • Be part of an incredible community project in the village of Puntondo – meet the fishermen and learn about the importance of the marine ecosystem, and how this project is helping to save the coastline.
  • Immerse yourself in the cultural heart of the Torajan people as you embark on a full day of eye-opening exploration into their unique beliefs and traditions – gaze up at the cliff-face tombs and wooden effigies of Lemo and feel the mysticism among the trees of Kambira.


ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Day 1 - Makassar
Selamat datang! Welcome to Sulawesi, the Indonesian island gem that’s home to vast national parkland, radiant coral reefs and a mountainous centre. Your adventure begins in the city of Makassar – if you have time before your important group meeting this evening, perhaps explore Fort Rotterdam, the city’s most recognised landmark, standing majestically on the western coast. After your meeting, why not head out for a food tour at the local night market and get to know your new travel companions over a traditional dinner on Losari beach.
Day 2 - Ramang Ramang - Pare Pare
After breakfast, enjoy a leisurely day’s travel through the picturesque countryside as you journey north to Pare Pare. En route, visit Ramang Ramang village and enjoy the peaceful panoramic vistas of the karst mountains closing in on the rice paddies and surrounding farmland. Experience the relaxing way of daily life as you board a traditional wooden boat and float up the river, stopping off along the way to interact with local people and be welcomed into their village. Afterwards, continue your journey to Pare Pare where you’ll spend the evening.
Day 3 - Rantepao
Today you’ll set off at approximately 8 am and make your way north to Rantepao, a town surrounded by mountains and forests and known for being the cultural centre of the Toraja people. The drive will take 5 hours plus stops, so this is a great opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers! On arrival in Rantepao later this afternoon, ask your leader about activities in the area, or perhaps relax with a good book in preparation for the trekking ahead. This evening, pack a bag to take with you on the trek. You can leave the rest of your belongings at the hotel as you will be returning here after the trek.
Day 4 - Tana Toraja Trek
It’s an early start as you fuel up on a boxed breakfast while making the 45-minute journey by van to Mariri, the starting point of the Tana Toraja Trek. Your hike begins with a steep decent through lush bamboo forest – in rainy season, the loose soil can become very muddy, so make sure you’ve packed sturdy footwear. Continue to traverse through beautiful scenery as you soak up the sight of coffee and cacao plantations. Stop for a packed lunch along the way and take a moment to appreciate the remoteness of the surrounding landscape. Arrive in Madong this afternoon and enjoy free time to relax or interact with the villagers. Take the opportunity to join in with the locals as they weave traditional floor mats, or get involved with the cooking of tonight’s dinner. Tonight you’ll stay in a local guesthouse run by a family in the village.
Day 5 - Tana Toraja Trek
Enjoy a simple breakfast of fried bananas and sweet potatoes and try your hand at drying out coffee and rice before beginning the next section of your trek to Kalimbuang. The hike begins weaving a path through bamboo forest and traditional villages. Witness daily life as you pass farmers tending to their gardens and immerse yourself in the picturesque landscape of rice terraces and fertile valleys. Stop by a village for a well-earned rest. Refuel with a packed lunch before descending for the final hour through pine forest, then arrive at tonight’s guesthouse in Kalimbuang.
Day 6 - Tana Toraja Trek - Rantepao
Begin today’s slightly shorter trek along a flat, downhill path through lush rice paddies to Batutumonga, located on the slopes of Toraja’s highest mountain and considered the perfect place from which to witness the panoramic beauty of Tana Toraja and the city of Rantepao. Choose to ascend to the very peak (an additional 1-hour return hike) and be rewarded with uninterrupted views of the stunning scenery that stretches around you. Enjoy a free afternoon (and perhaps a hot cup of Toraja coffee!) before taking the 1-hour drive back to your hotel in Rantepao.
Day 7 - Rantepao
Today you’ll embark on a full day of eye-opening exploration into the unique beliefs and traditions of the Toraja people. After breakfast, head to the ancient wood-carving village of Ke’te Kesu’ located in the centre of the highlands (approximately a 20-minute drive). Concealed in the mountainous region of south Sulawesi, this traditional Tongkonan complex remains unchanged since its development over 400 years ago and has preserved its ancestral customs as well as its buildings. The people of Ke’te Kesu’ are renowned as highly skilled craftsmen, and evidence of their creations can be found across the settlement – abstract and geometric patterns carved into bamboo and stone to create unique ornaments – seemingly without the use of mathematical tools or calculations. Afterward, drive to Lemo (approximately 45 minutes) and witness a combination of art, ritual and death as you look up to the steep rock facade and see decorated wooden images of the deceased, lined up along a carved, stone balcony to protect the tombs. The cost of a funeral can take decades for a family to save for, so until then the Toraja people see the dead as living beings and preserve them in formalin, continuing to offer them food, water and even cigarettes until they are eventually buried. Then, every three years during Ma’nene (the ceremony of cleaning corpses), this 900-year-old tradition sees the ‘mummified’ bodies dug up, cleaned and dressed in fresh clothing – and presents an opportunity for the young to ‘meet’ their ancestors. This afternoon visit the village of Kambira, home to a special cemetery with a spiritual setting, where the Torajan people have laid their deceased babies to rest inside the trees in the belief that their bodies will be absorbed into the tree and continue to grow with it. Your last stop today is Tampang Allo village. Set among the tranquil rice paddies and maze of cliffs, this village is home to one of the largest burial caves in Toraja. It’s said that the graves reportedly belong to descendants of the mythical divine being Tamborolangiq, who introduced the age-old death rituals into Torajan society.
Day 8 - Palopo
After breakfast, gain a further understanding into the culture and civilisation of the Tarojan and the surrounding communities on a visit to the bustling Bolu Traditional Market. Watch the sale and exchange of up to 500 buffalo – ranging in size, colour, pattern and price! If you’re lucky, you may see the sale of a superior Tedong Bonga (spotted buffalo) being sold for tens of millions of rupiah, or the very rare albino buffalo which can reach a selling price of hundreds of millions. Next, head to the beautiful village of Palawa, where the facades of the houses are elaborately decorated with buffalo horns. After lunch, travel to Bori, home to a landscape of megalithic stones marking a ceremonial ground of enormous cultural significance to the people of Toraja, as they host traditional feasts and perform rituals as a way of paying homage to the dead. Afterward, transfer to Palopo for the evening.
Day 9 - Puntondo
This morning, take an early transfer to the airport for your flight back to Makassar, then make the 3-hour journey by private minivan to Puntondo. Located on the Bay of Laikang, the village of Puntondo is surrounded by water, with many of its houses elevated on stilts. Today may be a long day of travel, but you’ll arrive at tonight’s accommodation – a community project inspiring environmental change – in time to enjoy a glorious sunset with the local fishermen and feast upon traditional Indonesian cuisine enhanced with local spices. Tonight you will stay in dormitory accommodation with shared bathrooms.
Day 10 - Puntondo - Makassar
Surrounded by powder-white sand and panoramic countryside, The Puntondo Centre for Environmental Education (PPLH) is a community project, driven by the concern for the environmental damage that’s occurred in the area – from illegal logging in the mangroves to the destruction of coral reefs due to careless fishing. PPLH aims to educate its guests on the importance of the marine and coastal ecosystem through various programs and activities, and today you’ll have the opportunity to meet the local fisherman of Puntondo village. Experience what daily life is like for the fishermen and learn about their economy, education and cultural beliefs as you’re welcomed into their homes. Watch as they repair nets and harvest seaweed then get involved in preparing (and eating!) an Indonesian lunch with the local people. Later this afternoon, transfer back to your hotel in Makassar and perhaps join your group for a final farewell dinner on Losari beach, to reminisce about your shared experiences and toast to your adventure.
Day 11 - Makassar
There are no planned activities today and you are free to depart at any time.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
06-06-202016-06-2020AUD $ 1,575-
10-04-202120-04-2021AUD $ 1,655-
05-06-202115-06-2021AUD $ 1,655-


Hotel (7 nights),Guesthouse (2 nights),Dormitory (1 night)


Private mini van,Plane