Safely protected beyond the lofty mountains and rugged granite cliffs of the central highlands of the island of Sulawesi, are the Toraja people who live in valleys that are lush with green rice terraces and fertile coffee plantations.
Most tourists like to stay in Rantepao, the largest town and the main travelers' center of Tana Toraja. Toraja land is
known for its ancient culture and traditions. According to the myths of the Torajas, their ancestors descended from heaven
to the top of the mountains, and then spread through the valleys.
The most spectacular aspect of Toraja's culture is the burial ceremony. According to their belief, death is an important event that must not be forgotten. Therefore, burial ceremonies cost a lot of money, and a whole family?s inheritance could well be spent to hold a single one. Hundreds of pigs and buffaloes are sacrificed during the ceremony, which takes place in the mountains. The coffins are then buried in holes, similar to caves.
Things to do in Toraja land
The city of Rantepao is the best base for exploring surrounding Tana Toraja. The city itself offers a traditional market with a very interesting livestock department. Ask the hotel reception about the exact date of the market.
Traditional houses with their unique buffalo horn architecture can best be viewed at the village of Ke'te Kesu, located about 5km from Rantepao, of at Palawa, which is developed for tourism but however might be more original.
One of the most famous attractions in the Toraja land is certainly the escalating funeral ceremonies and the burial caves. See the INFO Box of this site.
10km South of Rantepao travelers find Lemo, the most popular rock-grave site in Tana Toraja. The best time for visiting is early morning so the sunlight is coming from the right direction for good photographs.
Travel to Toraja land
Hasanuddin Airport in Makassar is the gate to Tana Toraja. Directly at Hasanuddin Airport tickets of a small regional flight operator called SMAC can be bought that will bring you directly into the land of Toraja. The flight costs around Rp. 220,000 and takes 1 hour. At the time we post this information the flight is operated each Tuesday and Friday.
As an alternative travelers can take a bemo or taxi to Makassar bus terminal. From there a relatively comfortable air-conditioned bus to Tana Toraja costs only Rp. 80,000, but however needs 8 to 10 hours for the 300km ride. There is usually a morning or an overnight bus.