The Ultimate Guide
What to do in Tana Toraja
The must-do activity in Tana Toraja is to visit several of the many mysterious burial sites of ancient villages and royal families, that are mostly located in the South. Find below a selection of the most beautiful sites in Tana Toraja.
Burial Sites in Tana Toraja
Bolu Livestock Market
Another popular activity is to visit one of the animal markets. Palau Bolu (Polu Market) is the biggest market where mostly buffaloes are sold by small herders, and where significant sums of money is spent by locals. It is here where family members buy buffaloes to be sacrificed for the the deceised in a burial ceremony.
The deceased is thought to being its journey to Puya after the burial ceremony, and the buffalo is considered to be a vehicle to make the journey. Therefore, family members want to buy as many buffaloes as they can afford for the deceased to do the journey as fast as possible. The Bolu Market is open only once or twice a week depending on the season.
Another famous animal market is the Makale Market where the main commodity is pigs.
Beautiful Landscapes in the North of Tana Toraja
The beautiful landscapes around Tana Toraja are mostly located in the North of Tana Toraja. While the most famous village around is Batutumonga, other beautiful villages with scenic landscapes include Tinimbayo, Limbong, Parinding, Tina, Perangian, Pana, Salu, Lolai and other picturesque places that are discussed in more length in the day-to-day itinerary of the 4D Toraja & Village Stay tour below.
Recommended Tana Toraja Tours & Scenic Treks
The must-do activity is a 2 Day Toraja Tour during which you spend one day to see the burial sites in the South from Rantepao – such as Kambira, Kete Kesu and Tampang Allo – and spend another day to see the beautiful landscape and mountains in the North around Batutumonga, and ideally do a short trek through the rice fields and remote villages.
As Tana Toraja is famous for its unique funeral ceremonies, many travellers overlook that it is a paradise for hikers as well! Unfortunately, most guides are only familiar with the touristic and marked trails, and are not familiar with the beautiful off-the-path mountain treks just a bit further from Rantepao, so choose your guide wisely.
If you also want to experience the beautiful landscape around Sulawesi and stay overnight in remote villages among locals, you should do at least the 3D Toraja Tour & Village Stay Tour, but we recommend the 4 or 5 Day Toraja Tour & Village Stay to fully enjoy the serenity as you trek through rice fields, bamboo forests, cacao- and coffee plantations, and meet friendly locals as you stay overnight in their remote communities.
Find below the day-to-day itinerary of the 4D Toraja & Village Stay Tour. Other day-to-day itineraries can be found in our Tana Toraja Tour Page (click on the tab above the image slider).
Itinerary for 4D Tana Toraja & Village Stay Tour
Day 1: Highlights of the South
Rantepao >> Lemo – Kambira – Tampang Allo – Lampio – Bebo & Karuaya – Kete’ Kesu >> Rantepao
Included: guide, car, driver, fuel, parking fees
excluded: accommodation in Rantepao, entrance fees to sites, meals
Visiting the Southern area will feel as if a cultural documentary has been brought to life. These are the must-sees of Tana Toraja.
Typically we will visit Lemo, Kambira, Tampang Allo, the weaving village Lampio, and the burial site in Kete’ Kesu. If there is time we could also visit the animistic villages Bebo and Karuaya.
Day 2: Trekking to Tinapu Village (L D)
Rantepao >> Pana – Kata – Kepe – Poya – Perangian – Tinapu
Included: guide, car and driver for drop-off, long trek (Pana – Tinapu), overnight at Tinapu, meals as mentioned
After breakfast, you are picked up and dropped off at Panaa. We visit the old stone grave, and then start our scenic day trek. We walk to Kata which located in the middle of rice fields.
We continue via Kepe to the very old village Poya, where some still have animistic beliefs and who have been studied by European scientists. The next stop is at Perangian village, with many joyful children excited to see foreigners.
We hike through a beautiful and rough landscape before arriving at our final destination Tinapu village, where we meet the hospitable villagers and feel the warm Torajan atmosphere where people live simply and are happy at the same time.
Day 3: Trekking to Salu (B L D)
Tinapu – Limbong – Parinding – Bela – Salu
Included: guide, long trek (Tinapu – Salu), overnight at Salu, meals as mentioned
After breakfast we start our hike to the beautiful ricefields at Limbong village, and the many Torajan houses and rice burns at Parinding
We will have lunch in the forest or the rice fields. And then we pass cacao- and coffee plantations and beautiful rice fields before we arrive at the remote, traditional village Salu. We meet the villagers, have diner, and spend the night in a local house.
Day 4: Highlights of the North (B)
Salu >> Lombok Parinding – Bori – Palawa – Tinimbayo – Batutumonga – Loko Mata >> Rantepao
Included: guide, car, driver, fuel, parking fees, short trek (Loko Mata – Kata – Kayurame)
excluded: accommodation in Rantepao, entrance fees to sites, meals
After breakfast in Salu village, we are picked up by car to explore the scenic Northern part of Toraja.
We visit the stone graves and rice burns in the village Lombok Parinding, the megalithic stones in Bori, and the traditional village Palawa and Tinimbayo.
Lunch will be served in Batutumonga, where you enjoy a beautiful panorama view. After lunch, we drive to Lokomata to see the boulder grave.
At Loko Mata we start our scenic trek of 2-3 hours through rice fields, bamboo forests, cacao and coffee plantations, until we arrive at Kayurame village, from where we return by car to Rantepao.
(click on the tab “Toraja Tours” above the image slider)
For a good preparation of your Tana Toraja Tour, read the The Ultimate Guide to Tana Toraja
How to get to Tana Toraja
Makassar is the gateway to Tana Toraja, and Rantepao is the base from which to explore Tana Toraja.
Fly to Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport in Makassar. From here you can reach Rantepao both via land and by air.
By Air. Take the morning flight from Makassar to Palopo Bua Airport (±1 hour), located ±2 hour drive from Rantepao. We pick you up here for free if your tour starts on the same day. Use SkyScanner to search for international and domestic flights.
Taxi. Take a private transfer from the airport to Rantepao (±8/9 hours). You could make stops at interesting sites on route (Bugis village, Erotic mountains), make a detour to visit Rammang Rammang, or break the journey with an overnight at Sengkang.
Bus. The cheapest option is to take the bus (±9/10 hours). There are many bus companies with different prices and each bus has several seat classes. Always take the “VIP” seats as these are the most comfortable. Bus companies include Litha & Co, Manggala Trans and Primadona. Usually you need to buy the bus tickets locally, but Primadona has a (primitive) online booking system and an email address (ti[email protected]).
Where to stay in Rantepao
While nowhere near the high-end resorts in Bali, the best and relatively luxury accommodation in Rantepao is Toraja Misilliana Hotel .
What is the best period to visit Torajaland
From a climate point of view, Tana Toraja can be visited all year long. While the temperature is fairly constant throughout the year, chances for the best weather are in the dry season from mid April to early October. However, the rain season in Tana Toraja is not as wet as in other places in Indonesia; typically there is short rain shower in the late afternoon, if it rains at all. In the worst case it could rain half a day.
The best period to visit Tana Toraja to attend a funeral ceremony is July – August. In these months you will be able to attend a ceremony with near certainty if you stay in Tana Toraja for 3 days or more. At the same time this is the busiest period with crowds or visitors.
The best period to visit Tana Toraja for scenic trekking are the shoulder periods in the dry season April-June and September-October, although the off-the-beaten-path experiences are also fun in the rain season October-March and the super peak season July-August.
What to bring to your Tana Toraja Tour
The general pack list:
- Comfortable shoes
- Insect repellent (DEET 40%)
- Small backpack for the day trips
Pack also the following for the Tana Toraja treks:
- Pocket light
- Mobile charger for your electronic devices (or a spare battery)
In case you visit a ceremony, you could consider bringing ceremony gifts (e.g. sugar, chocolate, cigarettes) with you, or alternatively just ask your guide to make a stop at a store on the way to the ceremony.
Where to go after Tana Toraja
The Tana Toraja Tours can be perfectly combined with visits to Rammang Rammang, Lake Tempe and Bira Beach.
- Rammang Rammang (±1.5 hours from Makassar by car) is part of Batimurung National Park, famous for its limestones. You need to cross a mangrove river by canoe to arrive at Rammang Rammang, where you can do several short hikes, visit the viewpoint on a hill or the caves with ancient drawings.
- Lake Tempe is the largest lake in Sulawesi and known for its floating villages. You cruise by boat between the houses, and can make stops for a coffee or desert in one of the floating houses.
- Tanjung Bira is known for its white beaches and turquoise water and considered to be among the most beautiful beaches in Indonesia. Located ±200 km from Makassar, it is relatively remote and therefore not crowded with tourists.
- 5 Day Makassar > Rammang Rammang – Lake Tempe – Tana Toraja > Makassar
- 7 Day Makassar > Rammang Rammang – Lake Tempe – Tana Toraja – Tanjung Bira > Makassar