Danau Tondano is a beautiful lake west of Tomohon. It is accessible by 'mikrolet', mini-bus - from both Manado and Tomohon. I walked with two other tourists to Danau Linow and we decided to continue on to Danau Tondano - a further eight kilometres. Along the way we asked locals for directions - our limited Indonesian resulted in the reply 'turus, turus' meaning straight ahead. After several 'turus, turus' down a number of different pathways, we eventually reached the lake. Amazing, serene, breathtaking! There are a number of restaurants perched on the lake - you can choose your own 'ikan mas', goldfish, for lunch (a few too many bones for my liking) and sit on the deck of the restaurant just taking in the tranquility. And by the way, we decided a mikrolet was the safest way of getting back to Tomohon!
One of the pleasant walks from Tomohon is a trip to Danau Linow. The lake is highly sulphrous, you will realise this before you arrive! It is quite beautiful, with a greenish hue. In one corner of the lake you can see sulphurous gas coming out of the hill yet surprisingly, the local boys fish in the shallows. There are seats for resting and musing, and a little stall is sometimes open selling drinks.
The local volcano gunung Lokon guard Tomohon from short distance, it has a twinvolcano, Empung, lifeless for 200 years. They are not the most spectacular of volcanoes but it is a beautifull sight, and a good place to enjoy the wiew and sunrise. In order to do that, start early, 4 am should be fine. It may take a couple of hours to get to the top. Along the way, you pass the small, but hissing and sulphursmelling crater. It tell the seismologists that this lady is becoming more active, and a major eruption is expexted during a few years. This volcano show a regularity in its eruptions. The last 20 years locals have seen her growing PMS mode-asheruptions, flying stones, gasclouds and eartquaces.In 1991seven farms are set on fire, the same year the airport in Manado gad to close down for several days because the air had to mutch nasty things in it. The same happened in 2003 (i think it was 03). From the crater you see Tomohon trough the eyes of the volcanogod. It is so close, you can even listen to the musicsellers standing at one of the main intersections down there. You arrive, and leave Lokon the same way, via the socalled stoderiver, the path of the lavastream from the last eruptions. The stone some places, at least with some imagination, look like streaming water, and shades from the densely vegetated riverbanks creates shadows on the “water”. It is a bit like rafting by foot. There is also a couple of waterfalls to watch out for.
The smal town Tomohon has not so very mutch to offer in the way of formal attractions, but it can be a good place to meet locals if you try a little. Just outside the citycentre there is allready peacefull countryside with small farms and villages, farmland and oxcarts scrambling on the gravelroads. The native people around here are the Minhasa, originaly farmers, many still are. The minhasa are divided into several groups, of witch four are concidered to originate, the others are newcomers mixed with those four (and eachothers) in different ways. The minhasasociety are mainly organized by the mapalus (ma-eachother +palus-to give) system. This mean that people go together in all sorts of works like housbuilding or farming. It also streches to the social side of the life, like weddings or baptising of children. Some provide monney, some may come with food, other with their labour. It also means that villagers in trouble get the help and support they need. The system becomes a shoulder to cry on. Minhasa are mostly protestants with some catholics in between. 10% are moslems, and a few are buddhists. The old religion sometimes surface during seremonies, like the kaipan (or tasting seremony) when a small part of the land are harvested in advance of the mainharvest. The crop is used in a meal dedicated Opo, the common name of all the ancient gods and godesses. This is meant to ensure a good mainharvest. Kaipan are at the same time a feast in honour of friendship and family.
The stranglerfig is well represented in Tangoko, and one of the most photogenic trees in this jungle. In total there is 800 species, living across the tropics. Every one is dependent on one spesific species of whasp to fertilise them, if the plant dissapears, the whasp do the same, and oposite. The whasp deposit a clutch of upto 400 egs in the figflower, and when the developed whasp climb out, it gets covered in flowerdust. This she brings to the next tree where it fertilise the flowers she visit there. The figfruit are loved by lots of birds and annimals, who eats them and later spread the seeds around the forest via their droppings. A seed that attatch to a branch soon grows rottreads to the ground. In the begining it is an inocent newcomer, but it will eventually embrace the host, stealing its light, nutritients and water causing it to die and compose (creating even more nutrients for the fig). The fig itself end up as a hollow tube, often used by the creatures of the jungle as hidingplaces.
Below the wawes i found one species i have wanted to meet, the horseshoecrab, one of the oldest living species on earth. Its virtually unchanged for at least 400 million years (our own species haven’t been unchanged for 100 000 years, and we call us the crown of the creation). They were around before the dinos, or even before the very first plant on land. The closest relatives are trillobites, now seen only as fossiles. There are no closely related species alive anymore. They are blueblooded, their hemoglobin contain copper instead of iron. The blood don’t have antibodies like modern creatures, instead an efficient cocktail of chemical compounds take care of everything who infects the annimal. Their blod is already in use to test cleanness of vaccines, a promising search after compounds useable in medicine are under way. The scientists even see possibilities for a cure against cancer and even HIV, i read (it is still a long way to go, and it is dependent of the survival of the horseshoecrab who is moving steadily towards extinction). Their vision are unique, not only because they have ten lightsensors, but also because their adaptation to lightsensivity can change unbelievable mutch. In darkness their lightsensitivity are one million time bigger than in daylight, making theit vision in darkness just as good as in daylight. It is four closely related species, making up their own tiny order called Merostomata, meaning “bones connected to the mouth”, a good description of the annimal. It belongs to the arthropods, witch is made up of insects, spiders and crayfishes. A long time i followed the foraging animal who gradually went into deeper water, when it reached about 12 meters i had to say goodbye, little divetraining for a long period of time made it impossible to go to my maxdept of 22 meters. That felt really bad, but the eyes of the annimal told me i was just a recent invader, so insignificant to her. Instead i rested on the surface philosopying about that strange creature still somewhere down there.
Tangoko are home to several groups of black macacks, a monkey endemic to Sulawesi. (i have heard roumors about a newly discovered species outside Sulawesi) There are several closely related species of them, i have heard it is 7. They have baboonsize, and live in familygroups that sometimes can be heard far and wide. My first group was eating their way on the forestfloor, sometimes stopping to argue or groom eachothers fur. The whole scene was monitored by a watchfull leader, in this case a female. In this society it is female dominance because females stay in the same group all life long, while the male wander. The boss let us in on a certain distance, when we reached an invisible red line, we got a very sharp glimpse, her eyes told us everything we needed to know. STOP; OR ELSE....! Those eyes are so human and intelligent. One reasom why primates are so facinating.
The maleo is a henlike bird, who forage the same way by picing in the soil. A group of maleos don’t look like very mutch, but their way of reproducing are intriguing. In that respect they act like reptiles. Maleo dig down their egs in colonies, more than one cubicmeter of sand can be moved before the egg are left on half a meters deep, then they are covered and left. Often false holes are dug to confuse eggpredators. The incubationheat come from the sun, or some places even from volcanic heat. After about three months the egg hatch, releasing a fully developed chick ready to fly. The egg don’t crack randomly, instead the chick cut of the top using it to plow its way to the surface, a journey that may takes days. Because the chics are born fully developed, a big yolk are needed. Therefore the egs are huge-on average 16% of the maleos weight, compared to 3% with normal hens. This has made the egs demanded by man, who have overexploited the maleos. This, in addition to habitatdestruction, has destroyed half of the nestingsites. Some of the nestingsites still in use are small these day. The maleos recemblance to the reptile provided one of the stronger circumstancial evidences of the link between the reptiles (and dinosaurs) and modern birds, a link now proven.
Tangoko are filled with hornbills, one of the worlds densest population of that spectacular bird are found in Tangoko due to the density of figtrees here. Hornbill+fig=love. If you find a figtree with fruit, the hornbills will show up sooner or later. Often it will be several species of them, in total there is more than 50, living all over the tropical Africa and Asia. I was lucy to spot a couple of redknobed hornbills, endemic to this region. They breed in treehollows high above the ground, the opening are closed by a wall of their own droppings, only a small hole are left so the male can feed the female and the chick in there. Hornbills usually only feed up one chick, even when there are several eggs. The hornbill have found their place in the folklore. The Iban tribe in Borneo consider them holy, and in the days of regular fighting they was very important. The night before a battle, they raised a hornbillfigure, pointing towards the longhouse of the enemy. Then the hornbillspirit would fly there, scaring the *** out of the enemy, making them less able to resist the following day.
The trademark of Tangoko are the Tarsier, one of the worlds smallest primates. It is a brownfured creature with big brown eyes, each of them are heavier than the brain of the annimal. On worldbasis they are endangered, but here in Tangoko the poulation is still healty. The tarsier is nocturnal, and spend the day hidden in hollow trees, the stranglerfig is a favourite and the rangers use a couple of them for sightseeing. They live in small familygroups witch agressively defend their territory against other tarsiers. The tarsier may look innocent, but it is a clever hunter, catching everyting from insects to small rodents via snakes, lizzards and scorpions. Despite their big eyes, the ears are more important for hunting.
Tangoko naturereserve are relatively easy acessible from Bitung, from where there are bemos going through the countryside to the village close to the naturereserve. (If you return to the civilisation in the morning, be prepared for some fairly lethal cometitiondriving between the drivers if there is several vehicles). Tangoko are a junglereserve spreading around a long extinct volcano. The jungle spread all the way down to the beach, making it possible to do some snorkelling from the beach of black volcanosand (watch your feet in the heat of the day, the sand is glowing) and do some jungletrekking at the same day. The only time worth trying to spot wildlife in the forrest are in the morning, from dawn to 9 or 10 am, and again in the afternoons from 3 pm to nightfall. Even in the moonlight after dark i spotted annimals, it was two species of rodents and a myriad of hunting bats. Those was sometimes only centimeter from my face, but they never collided. Their sonar detect even the smallest obstacle. There is several places to stay, i choose Ranger inn, a friendly, quiet and cleen place. It is also the one closest to the rangerstation. Renting a guide, even if he can’t speak english is a good idea, with a guide finding wildlife are often simple and almost certain, without, it might be almost impossible in a short space of time. I paid 35.000 rupees for a walk. The highlights are covered in the following tips.
Bunaken Marine Park, North Sulawesi, Manado, Sulawesi, 95011, Indonesia
Good for: Solo
Desa Kima Bajo Dusun III, Kecamatan Wori, Kapupaten Minahasa Utara, Manado, Indonesia
Good for: Business
ThisHotel lied at Jenderal Sudirman street, at the center of Manado, with variable room rate, depend...more