Tana Toraja (Sulawesi) - December 2009
The first time I traveled to Sulawesi was in the summer 1972. I had been attracted by the strange shape of the island and the fact that at that time it sounded very remote to me. During that trip I trekked from Mamasa (located North of the small coastal town of Polewali) to Rantepao, around Rantepao, and finally from Rantepao to Palopo on the Bone Bay. I returned to Sulawesi 22 years later in June 1994, following a trip to Irian Jaya (now Papua). During this second trip, I first flew to Palu on the central West coast of Sulawesi, where I took a bus to Gimpu. From Gimpu, I trekked to the Bada valley (famous for its megaliths) and from there to the main road near Masamba. I returned again to Sulawesi in December 2009. This was a shorter trip during which I spent a week trekking North of Rantepao.
Trek itinerary (red dots):
For this trek I had hired a local guide in Rantepao, named Luther. The green stars mark the places where we camped. The black dots indicate villages.
I arrived in Rantepao around 7am after a full night spent in the bus from Makassar. As is rather usual in Tana Toraja, I was immediately taken to a funeral ritual where a dozen buffalos were killed. In the summer 1972, I had seen a much bigger funeral. Nevertheless, it was quite a cultural change from the tamed atmosphere of Singapore that I had left less than 24 hours earlier.
Stone-carved burial site of Lemo. The statues (called Tau Tau) are the effigies of the deceased.
Burial site of Londa
Start of the trek near Rantepao
View of mountains surrounding Rantepao
Beautiful rice fields in the highlands
The village where we spent our first night. We reached the village just when it started raining.
Early next morning
Woman collecting insects and eating them
One of the many stone-carved burial sites along the way
In the last village before we entered the dense forest (about three hours before our camp #3). Few houses still have the kind of traditional roof seen on this picture.
Small noisy windmills made by children
View of the forest
A monkey skull
Hiking in the forest
The hut in which we spent our 4th night
Village of Parada
Man near Parada
Houses near Kalo
Sunrise seen from Batutumonga
Rice fields below Batutumonga. Rantepao lies below the clouds.
Megaliths in a village between Butumonga and Rantepao
Rock formation a few kilometers North of Rantepao