Trip reference number: ISE

Trip Operator: Undiscovered Destinations

Indonesia - Sulawesi Explorer (15 Days)

From: £1795.00

The enormous and oddly shaped island of Sulawesi is one of Indonesia’s cultural treasures, but often neglected by western tour companies in favour of better known Bali or Java. Yet it holds a wealth of treasures that should be on every serious traveller’s itinerary, with fascinating ethnic groups following elaborate social practices which cannot be seen elsewhere. Our trip to this remarkable land encompasses both the north and south of the island, starting from the bustling capital Makassar and heading into the Tanah Toraja, an area of highlands where traditional architecture and practices are at their strongest. This two week trip encompasses the very best of this fascinating island, and will leave you wanting to explore more of this vast and varied region.     


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 Pantai Gapura 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 a cave with prehistoric prints, as well as taking a boat journey and visiting nearby waterfalls. 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 waterfalls and traditional Bugis houses, then 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 Pondok Ela 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
A free day to explore the region further. For the energetic, 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 through interesting and varied scenery takes 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 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. (BLD)

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 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 Sedona Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 15 – Manado
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. Tour ends. (B)     


Departure Date Return Date Availability Price
17/09/2021 01/10/2021 Available £1925.00

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