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Wonderful information taken from a set of posts on Lonely Planet Thorn Tree 26.6.08 written by some very experienced travellers along this route.

Posted 26-Jun-2008
by: HelenIAM

Questions about Sulawesi

I'm spending 6 weeks in Sulawesi from 20th July - end August. Arrive in Makassar and will exit from Manado.
I'm not mad about doing long demanding treks but a moderate day at a time I can manage.
Don't dive but do like to snorkel. Travelling alone and like to spend $10 -$15 max a night.

1. Is it worth my going up to the Mamasa valley just for 2-3 nights if I'm just going to be doing days out from
there (and not trekking over to Rantepao on the 3 day trek)?

2. If yes to above is it logical to go there directly from Makassar and then somehow make my way over to
Rantepao ( maybe bus to Polewali and then another connecting to Rantepao)

3. I would really love to get to the Bada valley (... mostly to see the Megaliths and not really the Northern bit of Lore Lindu at all). Has anyone done this? Will I be able to arrange some transport and a guide in Tentena to Bomba? I'm guessing there is no road to Gimpu and I will have to walk that? Does anyone know the going rate for a guide +bike/jeep down here. I'm guessing it will be quite expensive as I'm unlikely to be able to share with anyone ....but it is something I really want to do. Maybe . I could pick up a bemo or something... the locals must have to go down here too? But I would still need a guide.

4. If you do Lore Lindu what does one do with one's stuff. Should I leave my stuff in Tentena and loop back to collect it or is there someway I could exit somehow to Palu without spending 10 days trekking in Lore Lindu?!

5. Another "Shoe Question" ... sorry! As it will be the dry season will I be OK with my trekking sandals. They are strong with a good grip and I don't want to carry extra shoes/boots if I can avoid it. I hate wearing closed shoes in the heat anyway. Would compromise in some of those closed toe sandals that Pamela recommended ... if necessary.

6. Does it get cold anywhere in Sulawesi .. so that I will need a fleece at night?

7. Can anyone recommend a guide for Tangkoko .. and tell me the going rate?

8. Boats to Tongian island I pick up easily at Ampana that right?

8. Lastly ... I've picked up recommendations for losmen ......Wisma1 in Rantepao, Pondok Lestari in Tongian Islands, Hotel Celebes in Manado and maybe the Happy Flower if I get to Tomohon ... thanks for those .. but can anyone recommend somewhere in Makassar, Tentena or Bira???

Many thanks for any input!

Posted 26-Jun-2008
by: pPamela

Hi Helen,

A friend of mine in Tana Toraja now has a website made by an American traveller. Have a look, maybe you can contact him for details

Posted 26-Jun-2008 13:16
by: Laszlo

1. Mamasa is definitely worth visiting for 3 days. Beautiful area with very different landscae and architecture for Tanatoraja. Also far less "touristy".
The 3 day trek from Rantepo is more like one day, if any, these days, as there are roads well beyond Bittuang and Mamasa - possibly connectin up from both sides by now.

2. Yes. There might be direct transport from Makassar, but start very early!
Otherwise you may have to overnight in Polewali. From Mamasa to Rantepao, there used to be direct buses via Polewali, but I'd really recommend the route via Bittuang - more interesting.

3. There is a rough road from Tentena, definitely doable by motorbike, or maybe 4WD. There are also more commonly used routes from Palu to Gimpu and Doda. The latter is in the Besoa Valley, which also has very interesting megaliths, some of which I found more unique than the Bada ones. Bada to Besoa is a one day walk. If you can speak some Indonesian, you would have no trouble hiring guides once in Gimpu, Bada or Besoa, for much less than ones from Tentena will charge.

4. Do a loop from Palu (Palu-Gimpu-Gintu-Besoa-Palu) and you can leave your stuff in Palu.

5. I'd recommend boots. Some of the Bada statues are in muddy fields.

6. Yes!

7. You don't need one, except to see the tarsiers at night. For that I wouldn't pay more than 50.000 as it's maybe 2 hours.

8. Yes.

Posted 26-Jun-2008 15:44
by: BenediktXVI

You can go up by 4WD to Bada valley from Tentena and fly back with MAF the next day.

Posted 26-Jun-2008 21:02
by: jkast2


How long is the trip from Tentana to Bada valley (in a 4WD)? Is it possible to do in a day trip? Thanks in advance.

Posted 26-Jun-2008 21:32
by: Mauricio

Is 4WD necessary or simply high ground clearance? In other words, are there deep soft patches (of mud, loose dirt or sand), or really steep gradients?

Posted 27-Jun-2008 04:15
by: MisterSteve

Yes for Wisma Maria 1 in Rantepao (I have stayed there several times):

Yes for Hotel Celebes in Manado (I have stayed there several times);

As for Happy Flower (I stayed there once in 2002), The place was run-down and the ceiling of my room leaked when it rained. There are other comparable alternatives in the area.

I would probably stay at Pondok Lestari on Kadidiri the next time just to see how it is as my idea is to avoid the Yuppie set (including divers) whenever possible.

In my opinion it's not worth going to Mamasa unless you do the 2 full day hike over the mountain to Bittuang. When I was there it was not easy to visit many sites near Mamasa on day hikes because public transport was not very good and you may need to charter vehicles for maximum enjoyment in that area. But there are a few day hikes possible from Mamasa town. It's not easy to get from Mamasa to Rantepao by road without going back to Polewalli. The local horse guides do it one way but it is quite complicated and something you probably don't want to try.

I would take one fleece long sleeve to Indonesia just in case. Note that blankets will most likely be available in homestays in locations where it is cold.

Boats to the Togians from Ampana, yes.

Posted 27-Jun-2008 04:23
by: HelenIAM

Thanks Pamela for website and will definitely look out Daud when I'm there.

Benedikt ... does the plane fly every day .. and how much for plane and 4WD ??

Laszlo ... thanks for the depressing news about the boots and fleece! Also for other bits.

Still need to know how I should get my stuff (small bag on wheels nowadays) from Mamasa to Rantepao if I do walk it. Maybe I just wheel it along behind me! What did you do???

I did mean the megaliths around Gintu and Doda. They still look so close to Tentena. It would be great to be able to do it from there and not have to go to Palu. My plans are very vague and very flexible but I was thinking of turning right at Poso and going over to the Togian islands. After that I would see how I felt and then either go to Palu or just fly to Manado.

Laszlo did you just jump on a bemo from Palu to Gimpu???
Any ideas on prices for guides per day (from Gimpu) so I know what to hope for in Tentena. ?
How long from Tentena to Palu??
Do you have to get passes for all the National Parks before you get there?

Posted 27-Jun-2008 04:30
by: MisterSteve

Time estimates: Tentena to Poso is about 1 hour (downhill) and you can go by local colt or on the through bus from Makasar, but unless you get through transportation on the bus you will have to change to a bus in Poso. Often difficult to get a seat on the through bus because the bus is full and locals using that bus do not get off at Tentena, so you might not be able to get a seat. Poso to Palu is about 5 hours, I think. Palu to Tanjung Karang Beach is about 1 hour by taxi. Be sure to spend at least 2 days at Tanjung Karang Beach if you are in the Palu area.

Posted 27-Jun-2008 04:33
by: HelenIAM

Steve .. thanks for info. So the 66 km trek is now over a mountain. It gets better!
Did you do it there and back? I'm happy to do it in 3 days one way and as I'm travelling from south to north I don't want to go to Rantepao and then backward to Mamasa.

Happy Flower is now off my list. I only wanted to stay there as I thought it was run by the same people who owned Flores Froggies (about 40km from Maumere) about 14 years ago. I think they have a Bunaken place too so maybe all their love and attention goes into that one!

Posted 27-Jun-2008 04:43
by: MisterSteve

Here's how my friend and I did Mamasa to Bittuang: You can charter a colt for the first 10 km because it is a road before it turns to a trail and starts climbing up. I carried my bag for awhile but this was a bit difficult, but then I found some locals going home from the Mamasa market and they let me put my bag on their horse (or you can hire a local to carry it for you probably if there are locals doing the to and from Mamasa for the market). Not sure what days are market days or whether there are enough locals doing this every day. Note that Day 2 in the afternoon is VERY HOT after crossing the River (be sure to take a swim in the river), and then there is uphill until you start the gradual and BEAUTIFUL decent (RICE PADDY VIEWS THAT ARE EXTRAORDINARY) to Bittuang. We were able to find a JEEP in the village after the river and hired the driver to take us to Bittuang. Not sure if you would be able to wheel a bag on the trail. (the trail was very bad on Day 2 but I do not know if improvements have been made --- lots of deep, deep ruts in the road --- the worst road I have ever seen.

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Posted 27-Jun-2008 20:18
by: BenediktXVI

The trip from Tentena is done in 6-8 hours. The road was very difficult and 3 boys on the Jeep had to clear or prepare in front to pass.

MAF was not not flying every day Tentena - Bada valley. Information and reservation was given on the airfield in Tentena.

And for those with a lot of time: Have a look on the Tukan Besi island like "Hoga" as an alternative place for snorkeling

Posted 27-Jun-2008 22:29
by: jkast2

thanks for the info, Benedikt

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My husband and I just came back from the trip to Makassar last May, and we didn't really enjoy it much because nothing much to see in the city itself. The only thing that worth to see is the Rotterdam Port just a few metres from Losari Beach Hotel. The people are not nice and around the city is very dirty. BUT we fully recommend you to go to Rantepao, Tanah Toraja. The temperature there is cooler compare to Makassar and the people are nicer. You will find this place is completely different than Makassar.

About Manado, highly recommended. From snorkelling to high land tour you will find lots of beautiful things to see. Trip to Tangkoko is easier if you do it by taxi from Manado otherwise you can do it by bus too but you have to change the bus a few times. And to go to National Park is better for you to hire a ranger because to see the Tarsius you have to do it after the sunset. Please cover your self when you go there because a lot of mosquito up there + dont forget to bring a torch.

Hope this help.

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im living in makassar for 17 years until 2003. much i feel, the people are nice but not the whole Emoticon: Smile in the city you can' t find another place that you can visit except Fort Rotterdam, Akkarena Beach, Losari Beach, and Paotere Port (if you like to eat seafood). the city is under construction so there's you see dirty but not aroud the city, only a few corner of the city,there's a lot of mall, night club, trade center. however, you can visit another place around this city... there's a lot of island (Khayangan, Laelae, Baranglompo, Barangcaddi), a national butterfly park 'Bantimurung' and a national park Leang-leang Cave at maros, Malino Hill at Gowa, and beautiful Bira Beach in Bulukumba (this is far from the city, maybe 250km from the city). i was spending my time at makassar for 30 days since 15 july.

ratenpao tanatoraja is higly recommended if you go to sulawesi. i love the place. from makassar to tanatoraja is 8-10hours by a car/bus.

manado. there's a little filipina in indonesia... i really love this city. national park Bunaken is highly recommended. another else... mmm i dont know.

Emoticon: Bye bye

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