Mostly prized for its bewitching funeral traditions, Tana Toraja is also a beautiful destination. This highland in South Sulawesi has a majestic backdrop of mountain scenery, lush tropical jungles, and ornate villages with captivating traditional houses. Tourists can start the day watching the sunrise from above the clouds, then continue exploring the villages and picturesque hills, including the eerie but fascinating burial cave.’
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 is 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 (minibusses or Jeeps) with or without a 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 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.