On a day trip to Pulau Lihukan from Bira, our boat captain suggested we do some snorkelling in the calm waters west of the village of Ta'Buntuleng. He took us to two spots. While the quantity of both coral and fish was less than in other parts of Sulawesi where I have snorkelled, the water was warm and crystal clear so visibility was very good. Few if any of the boats have snorkelling equipment for hire - most are fishermen and will do day trips for some extra income - so bring your own gear. Our co-captain, the captain's son, was wearing tiny swimming goggles that were falling apart so, as we were at the end of our trip, we left him our gear. We received the hugest smile!
On a day trip to Pulau Lihukan from Bira, our boat captain suggested we do some snorkelling in the calm waters west of the village of Ta'Buntuleng. He took us to two spots. While the quantity of both coral and fish was less than in other parts of Sulawesi where I have snorkelled, the water was warm and crystal clear so visibility was very good.
If you are spending a few days at Pantai Biru, use one of them to visit nearby Pulau Lihukan. It is easy to charter a boat at Biru harbor. Pulau Lihukan has some attractive beaches. You can also see weavers using hand looms to produce some very colorful cloth. The trip is not much more than 10km and a walk around some of the island can be combined with some snorkelling .
If you are heading to Bantimurung to see Air Tejun Bantimurung, or if you are travelling to Tana Toraja by car or motorbike, take the time to drop off at Leang-Leang to view some caves with 'ages' old cave paintings. The paintings are said to be more than 6000 years old. There is a small 'museum' giving a brief history of the caves and the surrounding area. The paintings are very similar to those found in caves in Papua and even show similarities to Australian aboriginal cave paintings, suggesting long distance sea travel many years ago.
If you are travelling by car or motorbike to Tana Toraja, take the opportunity to view the incredible landscape at Erotic Mountain. There is a quaint roadside cafe where you can sit on the edge of a cliff sipping your first Torajan coffee while enjoying the beauty of the amazing hills on the other side of the valley. The owner of the cafe has a tale to tell about the history of the mountain-scape and how the name came about.
If you are travelling by car or motor bike from Makassar to Tana Toraja there are a few stops you should make on the way. One that doesn't divert too far from the main Makassar-Toraja road is at Air Tejun Bantimurung. This is a park with a series of waterfalls and a number of caves to explore. The cool air is refreshing and brings with it a diverse range of beautiful butterflies. The park can easily be accessed by public transport from Makassar for a day or half-day trip. Be prepared to have your photo taken with the locals or other tourists - you really aren't given much of a choice.
If you find the time to visit Sengkang, don't pass up the opportunity of seeing what life is like living on a lake. Hire a boat and guide in Sengkang and travel along Sungai Walanae to Salotangah village in the middle of the lake. Here people spend six months of the year living on bamboo raft houses. We were lucky enough to hire a guide who knew some of the people living on the lake. We pulled up alongside their 'house' and were invited in for morning tea. Ibu promptly made coffee and banana fritters for us. It was a fantastic morning, travelling across the beautiful lake and learning about life on the lake.
If you have done your time in Tana Toraja and still have a few days to spare before returning to Makassar, a day or two in Sengkang is well worth the trip. The town itself doesn't have much to offer although there is a local silk weaving industry that is worth a look. The highlight is spending time travelling up the river and glimpsing the passing traffic and locals on the bank of the river can be fun. Boats can be chartered or hired with a guide.
If you are travelling to Pantai Bira, take the time to stop off at Tanah Beru, a traditional boat building village. You can watch the men build huge ocean going vessels in the traditional way. These craftsmen are held in such high reknown that orders for their boats come from all over the world. When we were there, they were just finishing a boat for a rich Australian. It takes months to dry and bend the wood into the needed shape and the tools used are very simple. It gives a fuller understanding into how sailors navigated between islands and even travelled between Indonesia and Australia centuries ago.
Take the night Bus from Makassar to Taraja - It will take you about 8 hours if you are lucky and you have to engine problems. Book a rafting tour either in advance (their are two places that offer rafting - as a foreign meaning not indonesian be prepared to pay almost double the price around 500.000 Rupiah).
The first day have a look at the typical tourist sites - typical Toraja houses, stone graves. Always bargain for souvenirs. You don´t need to rush buying any souvenirs since you can get everything at the local bazar (reasonable cheaper).
The second day go on the rafting tour.. it will take the whole day since the car ride to the river is about 1.5 hours, but you will see beautiful landscapes and rice paddies, so its worth it. To get to the river you need to walk down a hill for about 40 min... be prepared you need shoes with a little bit of grip.. otherwise you´ll just heave a earht-coloured bum.
The rafting tour is fun, not to difficult and also not boring. After the rafting you can go to your hotel, get washed, then go out for some meal and take the 20 or 21:00 bus back to Makassar.
The house Ceremony we went to was a lively event. You really get a chance to experience what it is like to be part of this tight community.
I would recommended this hotel if you want to centrally located in Rantepao area yet you feel 'the...more
The town of Makassar is not a flashy city, and you can easily see its modesty while passing the...more
Jl. Jurusan Palop, PO Box 52, Rantepao, Indonesia
Good for: Solo