Sulawesi: Toraja and Makassar

Benteng Somba Opu, with Aurelie 2017, by AI

Sulawesi, former Celebes, located between Kalimantan (Borneo) and Maluku is divided by the equator. High volcanic mountains are covered with dense equatorial forests, while vast rice fields stretch through its valleys and plains.

Famous are the Toraja, an ethnic group living in a spectacular countryside of rugged mountains and lush valleys. Many of their beliefs and values are still deeply rooted in ancient animistic practices, as for example their lavish and exotic, if bloody, funeral traditions. 

Makassar, formerly Ujung Pandang, for centuries has been the gateway to eastern Indonesia and the site of numerous fierce wars between coalitions of Portuguese, Dutch and the local people. Today, history is still alive in the proud Makassarese.

Travelling in Sulawesi

.... is not always barrier free. In contrast to Bali and Yogyakarta there are no temples with their many stairs, but the island is remoter and accessible facilities are more difficult to find. Nevertheless, also for visitors with disabilities is it possible to discover Sulawesi! We provide assistance to explore the island by using our knowledge of local conditions, by deploying devices such as portable ramps, and with the help of a competent team ready to assist.

You can combine visiting Sulawesi with a trip to Yogyakarta and/or Bali

Have a look at our Sulawesi tour to Makassar and Toraja, or discuss other possibilities with us.  

Where to Go

Visitors to South Sulawesi usually arrive by aircraft in Makassar, the provincial capital, and from there travel on to Toraja. Adding a day or two in Makassar is certainly worth the time, particularly if you are interested in colonial history, and keen to try out the one or other local culinary specialty of this harbour town.

Find background and accessibility information for each destination through their links.


Toraja is known for their impressive boat-shaped traditional houses decorated with colourful wood carvings, and for their burial sites carved into rocky cliffs. To preserve the beauty of their setting and surroundings, a group of 10 Toraja settlements has been submitted to UNESCO for world heritage nomination.


Kete Kesu is one of the oldest villages in Toraja and has a rather spooky burial site at the outskirts of the village.

Kete Kesu AI 2016
Sengkang weaving, AI 2016

Sengkang is the ‘Silk City’. Finest silk clothes are produced using traditional methods in homes and small factories.

Mountains South Sulawesi

The scenic land of the Bugis: Endless rice fields stretch between mountains covered with tropical forest.

Baby Grave Tree at Kambira

Kambira, a small village, a bamboo forest with an ancient baby grave tree - A mystical experience in the morning mist.


Londa and Lemo are two famous rock grave sites with numerous graves and Tau Tau set up into a steep cliff.

Tau Tau in Suaya, AI 2016

Suaya is a royal burial site and an easy accessible location to see the Tau-Tau, wooden images of the deceased.

Batutumonga, AI 2016

BatutumongaA breathtaking journey into the slopes of Mount Sesean to the tranquility of the remote Lokomata rock.

Bori, AI 2016

On the Ceremonial ground of Bori over a hundred menhirs have been erected in honor of the deceased.

Traditional weaving in Palawa, AI 2016

A beautiful, rather forgotten village with large, boat-shaped houses, Palawa is one of the last centers of traditional weaving.


 Musicians in Benteng Somba Opu

The Makassarese have a reputation for their rough character, particularly in comparison to the extremely soft-spoken Javanese, and the city mirrors this with a distinctive charm.

On the left see Dg Serang and his famous traditional drummers. Witness their training during your stay in this very unique city!

Among Makassar’s attractions are the Dutch Fort Rotterdam and the Makassarese Benteng (Fort) Somba Opu, located in a large theme-park. At Pantai Losari, Makassar’s ocean waterfront, numerous foot stalls open up in the evening and offer local specialties.

Limestone hills, the world’s second largest karst area, in the north of the city contain a number of caves with prehistoric rock paintings, amongst which is the oldest known work of art produced by man.

Fort Rotterdam, with Aurelie, AI 2017

The colonial Fort Rotterdam, located at the sea-side in Makassar, represents Dutch rule in Sulawesi for nearly 300 years.

A traditional House in Benteng Somba Opu's Park, AI 2015

The citadel of the Sultans of Gowa, Benteng Somba Opu, is now an open-air museum in an extensive park at the outskirts of Makassar.

Pantai Losari at Sandeq Race, AI

Pantai Losari, Makassar’s famous sea-side, offers fresh breezes during the day and amazing sunsets in the evening.

Rock Painting in a Cave in Maros, AI 2014

Leang Leang CavesThe limestone Mountains of Maros contain the oldest rock paintings known worldwide.