About South Sulawesi
The Gate to The East Indonesia
Makassar is the largest city in east Indonesia and the capital city of South Sulawesi province. Makassar enjoys a central location in the Indonesian archipelago and is the Indonesia’s busy air hub, connecting Sumatra, Java, Bali and Kalimantan in the west with Sulawesi, the Moluccas and Papua in the east. Ever since the 14th century and located on the busy trading route along the deep Straits of Makassar, the city of Makassar is a bustling cosmopolitan town with settlement of many races and ethnic groups, of Chinese, Europeans, Javanese, Balinese, Ambon and others. Makassar is the Gateway to East Indonesia, as well as the entry point to an adventurous tour to the Tana Toraja highlands, where awesome mountain scenery and the unique rituals of the Toraja people await.
The island of Makassar are also known to have some of the best spots for diving. Just a mere 50 km from the city, Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park awaits with its stunning waterfall and hordes of enchanting butterflies, or visit Bulukumba’s fascinating traditional ship building dockyards and pristine beach at Bira. Freshly caught seafood served in a variety of ways, Chinese or local, is the highlight of any visit to Makassar.
As a large cosmopolitan city, Makassar has a good number of taxis available at hotels and shopping centers. Else take a bemo, or for slower sightseeing, take a becak, better known here as ‘roda tiga’.
As an important airline hub, Makassar is served by many Indonesian airlines flying from busy cities like Jakarta, Surabaya and Bali, using Makassar both as final destination or transit airport. Most airlines continue to Manado, the Moluccas or onward to Papua to the airports of Biak, Jayapura, Manokwari, Sorong and Merauke. Airlines serving Makassar include Garuda Indonesia, Air Asia, Lion Air and Sriwijaya Air. Other small airlines like Express Air serve flights between Makassar and Ternate, and to Jayapura.
The Land with Spectacular Nature and Uniquely Culture
Tana Toraja is safely protected beyond the lofty mountains and rugged granite cliffs of the central highlands of the island of Sulawesi and the home of the Toraja people. ‘Discovered’ and opened to the world from their long isolation only since the beginning of the last century, the Toraja today still adhere to their age-old beliefs, rituals and traditions, although many of her people are modernized or have embraced Christianity.
The nobility of Toraja are believed to be descendents of heavenly beings who came down by a heavenly stairway to live here on earth in this beautiful landscape. To keep up the energy of the land and its people, the Toraja people believe that these must be sustained through rituals that celebrate both life and death, which are attached to the agricultural seasons. Tourists to Toraja, therefore, are either attracted by its unique culture and rituals, most of which are mostly centered around graves and death ceremonies. While others prefer to avoid the morbid images and go trekking through the spectacular, almost untouched Toraja countryside visiting remote villages, or exhilarate in rafting the Sa’dan river rapids.
A Bemo, the local transport, is the best way to get to know the locals, besides chartering vehicles (minibuses or Jeeps) with or without driver. Enjoy walking around villages.
To get to Tana Toraja one must fly to Sultan Hasanuddin airport in Makassar, capital of the province of South Sulawesi. As a hub for East Indonesia there are many airlines flying to and from Makassar. The only way to Toraja from Makassar airport is overland. There are no flights yet between Makassar and Toraja.
There are also buses to Rantepao that leave Makassar daily. The journey takes around 8 hours and includes a meal stop. Tickets must be bought in town but coaches actually leave from DAYA bus terminal, 20 minutes out of town by bemo. Several companies in Rantepao run buses back to Makassar. The number of buses each day depends on the number of passengers. It is best and easiest to contact an experienced travel agent to arrange and take care of your full itinerary to the Toraja highlands.