Toraja Cultural Immersion
3 days to 5 days
Effortless to Beginner
Best time to go: July, August
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Some examples of what you can expect to see or do
Indonesia's fifth largest urban centre
Village in the karst mountain range
A green, hilly city
Unique culture; cave floors with human bones
Lies amongst leafy bamboo trees
Village in Bonoran with panoramic views
Known for the Toraja ethnic group
Cave cemetary in Toraja
Start time: At any time
End time: At any time
Start time: At any time
End time: At any time
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What you should know
How do I get there?
The experience starts from Rantepao, which is one of the biggest cities in the Toraja region. The closest airport hub to Rantepao is Makassar airport (there are direct flights from Singapore, Jakarta and Denpasar and many more Indonesian cities). The guide will pick you up from Makassar airport to take you to Rantepao, which is approximately 8 hours' drive away.
Do I need to go with a guide?
You can self-drive around the Torajan countryside but we wouldn't recommend it as that would only give you a very superficial understanding of this fascinating place. Having a local guide with you will give you color on what you're seeing, and background on the history, culture and traditions of the region. They will also know when/where the funeral ceremonies are being held and take you to one so that you can be fully exposed to the unique traditions of the Torajan people.
Do I need to train up?
You don't need to train up, though you should be able to handle light walks for a few hours at a time. The guides are also very flexible and are able to accommodate varying fitness levels, so you can walk as much or as little as you would like!
What's the best time to go?
The best months to visit are July, August
We recommend the above period because you would have more activities available.
How much time do I need?
You will need 5 days in total - 3 days in Toraja and 2 days getting there and back.
What's the difference between the options?
Each of the guides offers a similar itinerary so you should pick based on what type of guide you prefer, and level of accommodation (see below). In terms of accommodation, Erwin and Markus both put their guests up at Indra Hotel, a basic 1 star hotel which is well-maintained and clean. Lisa Soba puts his guests up at Hotel Luta, a 3 star hotel which is nicer and more comfortable. In terms of the guides, Markus is good with families and people who are taking it a bit slower. Erwin is good with young people (i.e. couples and groups) and is a good choice for those who would like more trekking. Lisa is incredibly knowledgeable and well-regarded, and is a good choice for those who would like more in-depth history of the area.
Any tips for what to do in the area?
One of the hidden delights of Toraja is its coffee. Tucked in the back of the Pison hotel in Rantepao is an amazing little cafe called the Kanna coffee shop, that serves delicious Arabica coffee. Mr Eli, the owner of the cafe, also has a water wheel powered roaster right inside the hotel - it is worth seeing even if you don't like coffee! Do also make sure you try the buffalo steak when you are in Rantepao. Rimiko Restaurant is recommended by the locals and travellers alike as a good place to have it.
Is there anything else I should know?
A few notes about the funeral ceremonies: <b>Word of Caution:</b> Please note that the funeral ceremonies involve the slaughtering of buffalos and other animals. This involves a lot of blood and may not be for those sensitive to these type of images. If you do not want to see this, please let us know and we will let your guide know that you would prefer to see other parts of Toraja instead. Also, please note that these are real ceremonies where people come to pay last respects to their loved ones. Although most locals see it as an honour when travellers join in the ceremony and are happy to welcome you into their homes, they do expect that you follow the rules. Please listen to your guide's instructions to ensure that due respect is shown to the Torajan families and their departed loved ones. Finally, because these are real ceremonies, there is a chance that none are scheduled during your visit. This is rare, as they do happen often, but it is possible. The dates of the ceremonies are often not fixed until a week or so before, so planning your trip to coincide with a ceremony is not always possible either. As mentioned above, the peak season for funeral ceremonies is during July to August, so visiting Toraja during those months increases your chances of seeing one but it isn't guaranteed.
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