There are a number of very good walks of half-day, day or multiple day length that you can take in the Toraja region with or without a guide. There are tracks through ricefields, passing villages, and one path even requires you to walk through a churchyard - built in the middle of a ricefield. The local people are very friendly and a few words of Torajan such as 'Apa kareba sangmane?' or 'Apa kareba sangbene?' - both mean 'How are you? but depend upon whether you are addressing a man or a woman and responding 'Melo' meaning good or fine. Also the general 'Salama' for 'Hello' and the always necessary 'Kurre sumanga' for 'Thank you'. There is plenty to see in the pcturesque valleys.
Strange title huh? I've seen a lot of tourists running around snapping their camera's, taking their digitals, video's and, finishing a wonderful trip in the touristy souvenir shops. What a pity!
Go for a walk, trek, and trip in very Indonesian way. Pelahan-pelahan... slowly! You can catch all the beauty of Tanah Toraja in one simple second, out of the right angle ... included the saddle-roofed houses and rice-barns, green paddy rice-fields, overwhelming nature and in the background those mysterious magical mountains ...
Torajans are known for their dwellings. These houses (Tongkonan) are raised on wooden poles, built so they can be moved on runners from one place to another, and look as if they could make the journey by sea - their sweeping dramatic saddle-roofs appear like huge slope-prowed vessels riding in an ocean of tropical foliage.
These roofs of Toraja Tongkonan house are popularly considered the ship prows which brought the original TORAJA across the ocean, and up to Sa'dan river. They decorated their houses with the horns of buffalos which are symbol of fertility, strength and protection from evil. The number of horns show the family's social status and, also style and ornamentation indicate that status ...
Just off the main road South of Rantepao, the village of Ke'te Kesu' has a reputation for wood carving ... There are no TAU-TAU, just coffins, skulls and human bones, similary neglected. One of the houses in the village nearby has several TAU-TAU on display.
On the cliff behind the village are some graves and there are some very old hanging graves. The rotting coffins are suspended on wooden beams under an overhang. If you continue along the vague trail heading uphill you'll come to another grave cave. No one lives here anymore and ... don't know about the dark nights here ...
Rantepao can still be very touristy in the off season, but once you're just a km out of town, you're in tropical Xanadu. Since the roads in Toraja-Land are so bonejarring in vehicles, walking can be a great relief for sure. Get accompanied with a local guide when not speaking any Bahasa Indonesia. Take water with you and follow this trail through sawah, leading from Tilanga to Londa... breathtaking views assured!
... included the hotel-views
The covered bridge crossing the river near Siguntu is well-known. You can head for Londa, or back to Rantepao. From Nanggala you can walk to Paniki and Buntao. A very long walk along a dirt track up and down the Toraja hills. When so take a lot of water, it's very hot! We got as far as this hanging bridge and lost courage ending up in chattering with locals ... very pleasant too. At Paniki the TAU-TAU are quite simple dressed and the colours aren't that lively.
The trek from Sa’Dan to Batutumonga on the other side of the mountain are worth mentioning. You passes by a lot of pittoresque villages and meets a lot of people. You will se nice tonkonanrows, boulders with graves and seremonial stonecircles. It is nowhere to eat along the way so bring food, or count on the luck. I was invited to eat lunch by a schoolteacher. In Batutumonga you can stay in several places, I chose Betania homestay situated just at the edge of the steep hill leading down to tke plains around Rantepao. The wiew is breathtaking. In Betania you sleep in a tongkonan. As i went, i almost all the time heard the secretive chanting from the burialseremonies. The sound makes one think about mystical rituales taking place in ancient times. In the hill below Batutumonga you will find another burialsite in a small clifface at Pana. The most unike to be found here are the graves of small children in hollowed treetrunks. You may look around a little to find them, but they are there. In the trees i found remnants of childrensclothing, and even some small bones. The children buried this way are less than six months old, and are not old enough to make the dificult and dangerous journey to the next world. The prefered way of travel, riding buffaloes or pigs, are not posible for them. Instead they have to wait until they are 16 years old, then the real burial are performed. All trees used for burials must have white sap, symbolising milk. Of course the child need food.