Tana Toraja, The Wonder Of South Sulawesi

Tana Toraja is a must see for visitors to Sulawesi and the highlands here will offer you everything from Funeral processions, Buffalo Slaughter and the eerie feeling that you are surrounded by dead people.

Getting to the highlands of Toraja can be quite a trek as it is located 250 kms north of Makassar and there are really no suitable flights to this area. You will undoubtedly find yourself on a bus heading north out of Makassar readying yourself for a somewhat bumpy 8-hour journey.

The highlands of Tana Toraja
The highlands of Tana Toraja (Source : akurat.co)

There are two main towns in Tana Toraja, those being – Makale and Rantepao. The latter – Rantepao is the more popular among visitors and has great facilities and contacts for the tourist. The town itself offers typical Torajan scenes of smartly dressed women heading off to church and men keeping warm under intricately weaved blankets smoking heavily to keep warm. Accommodation is plentiful in Rantepao and you won’t have a problem finding the right place. It is suggested you walk around the town first experiencing the delights before making a choice of hotel.

Buffalo market in Rantepao, North Toraja
Buffalo market in Rantepao, North Toraja (Source : beritakotaonline.com)

Makale is smaller than Rantepao and doesn’t really attract the traveller to stay overnight, however there are cheap losmen in the town’s square that will comfortably house you. Most people head further north on the bus to Rantepao.

Londa's burial caves, Tana Toraja
Londa’s burial caves, Tana Toraja (Source : theclassicwanderer.com)

To really see the Torajan way of life you need to head out of town in various directions where you will come across numerous villages all in keeping with the Torajan beliefs. The Torajans themselves are a very welcoming people and will greet you with open arms to come and visit their village. They are proud of their culture and want to show it to the rest of the world. Although watching animal slaughter and seeing decaying bodies might not be your cup of tea, this place really gives you an insight into a completely different world and its customs.

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