During this nine-day cultural odyssey, you'll see some of the most beautiful locales and visit the most isolated tribes in eastern Indonesia. It takes place in South Sulawesi, a region known for its beautiful coastline, lush highlands, and traditional architecture of the Tana Toraja people. After meeting locals and learning about unique funeral rituals, you'll finish the trip on the coast at the paradise of Bira.


  • See traditional homes and learn the customs of the Tana Toraja people
  • Travel to the highlands to see cliffside cemeteries and ancient standing stones
  • Visit floating villages and meet Kajang tribespeople who live apart from society
  • Relax on the beaches of Bira and travel to offshore islands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Sulawesi Makassar
Day 2 Transfer to Rantepao & Tana Toraja Rantepao
Day 3 Road Trip to Toraja Villages Rantepao
Day 4 Day Trip to Tinombayo, Palawa, Sadan & Bori Rantepao
Day 5 Day Trip to Marante & Siguntu Rantepao
Day 6 Transfer to Sengkang, Visit Floating Villages Sengkang
Day 7 Transfer to Bira via Kajang Village Bira
Day 8 Boat Trip to Liukang Island Bira
Day 9 Transfer to Makassar, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Sulawesi

Welcome to Makassar
Welcome to Indonesia! You'll be touching down in Makassar, the largest metropolis in eastern Indonesia. Located on the island of Sulawesi, this port city is known for its Dutch colonial landmarks and the gleaming new buildings lining its waterfront. Upon arrival at the airport, your driver will pick you up for the transfer to your hotel in the city. After checking in, feel free to head out and explore. Perhaps enjoy dinner at one of Makassar's world-class seafood restaurants.

Day 2: Transfer to Rantepao & Tana Toraja

Travel from Makassar to Rantepao
Traditional tongkonan homes of the Toraja people. 

Today your driver will take you on an eight-hour drive north to Rantepao, located in the highlands of South Sulawesi province. On the way there, you'll enjoy incredible scenery as the coast gives way to highland landscapes as you make your way up along windy mountain roads. You'll stop for lunch in the city of Pare-Pare, a major population center of the Bugis and the largest ethnic group on the island.

Eventually, you'll reach Rantepao. This mountain town is the gateway to Tana Toraja, a small regency in this part of South Sulawesi. It's the capital of the Toraja ethnic group, who have inhabited this highland region for centuries. Predominantly farmers, the Toraja are known for their elaborate funeral rituals, cemeteries carved into rocky cliffs, and traditional tongkonan houses. These ancestral homes stand on wooden piles and are known for their unique shape and soaring, horn-shaped roofs. After arriving at your hotel, feel free to take a walk and admire these architectural marvels.

Day 3: Road Trip to Toraja Villages

The rock tombs of Londa

Your driver will pick you up in the morning for a road trip through scenic highlands to Lemo, Suaya, Kambira, Londa, and Kesu-Kesu. In these villages, you'll discover the unique Toraja funeral ceremony called Rambu Solo. These funeral rites are a protracted process that begins at the moment of death, which the Toraja regard as merely a transitional phase. During this period, families continue to live with the preserved remains of their relatives until they can plan and afford an elaborate ceremony, at which time they send their loved ones into the afterlife.

Each village honors its deceased in a slightly different way. In Lemo, effigies of the dead, known as "Tau-Tau," sit on raised balconies; in Kambira, there is a tree cemetery where infants are interred; and Londa is known for its burial caves and hanging tombs. If it's the right time, your guide might be able to arrange a viewing of one of these ceremonies (be warned, however, that animal sacrifices are typically involved). After the villages, you'll tour ancient megaliths before ending the day with stops at royal tombs and a visit to local silk-weaving workshops. 

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Day 4: Day Trip to Tinombayo, Palawa, Sadan & Bori

The ancient menhir (standing stones) at Bori

After breakfast, you'll go village hopping around Tana Toraja again. The first stop is at Tinombayo, where you'll enjoy superb views of terraced rice paddies. Then, continue to Palawa, one of the oldest Toraja villages and a great showcase for the traditional architecture of the region. Another treat is a stop in the village of Sa'dan. Known as the weaving center of Toraja, the residents here are famous for producing handcrafted fabrics of the highest quality. The last stop of the day is at Bori, home to ancient megalithic standing stones called menhir

Day 5: Day Trip to Marante & Siguntu

See more traditional architecture in Tana Toraja

In the morning, your personal driver will pick you up for the ride to Marante, a village with many traditional homes and rice barns. Most interestingly, the rocky limestone hills surrounding the village are adorned with hanging coffins the locals call erong. Then, continue to Siguntu, home to some of the oldest tongkonan homes in the region. Nestled between green hills and overlooking rice paddies, this is a great place to stretch your legs on a scenic nature walk. Afterward, you'll return to your hotel and can spend the rest of the day relaxing.

Day 6: Transfer to Sengkang, Visit Floating Villages

Check out the floating villages on Lake Tempe
Visit the floating villages on Lake Tempe

Start today with a visit to Ke'te Kesu, a historic village hidden in the mountains. Surrounded by a vast expanse of rice fields, it's over 400 years old, making it the oldest village in the Sanggalangi district. You'll get to take a tour of this living museum, during which you'll experience first-hand the culture and traditions of the ancient Torajan people.

Afterward, you leave Tana Toraja country on a five-hour drive south to the town of Sengkang. Located in the heart of South Sulawesi, it sits on the majestic Lake Tempe, which is famous for its floating villages. Upon arrival in Sengkang, you'll hop in a motorized canoe for a sunset ride to one such floating village. Here, you'll witness the slow pace of life of the nomadic fishermen who call these settlements home.

Day 7: Transfer to Bira via Kajang Village

Tanjung Beach, in Bira

Leave Sengkang and the lake behind today for the sandy beaches of Bira. Located at the southern point of South Sulawesi, this tropical beach town is known for its rocky cliffs and turquoise waters running up to long stretches of powdery white sands. It's a six-hour drive, during which you'll enjoy stunning countryside scenery. You'll also make a few stops on the way.

The first is in a remote village where the Kajang people, a minority ethnic group, live in isolation apart from modern society. They're still very much attached to their ancestral traditions, in particular, the custom of only wearing black. For this group, black represents their philosophy of life, signifying the journey from the darkness of the womb to the final grave. After the village, you'll make other stops to witness the process of making palm sugar and visit a rubber plantation. Upon arrival at Bira, you'll check in to your hotel.

Day 8: Boat Trip to Liukang Island

Relax on an island

There are many beautiful islands just off the coast of Bira that are worth visiting. So, in the morning, you'll hop on a boat for a half-day visit to Liukang Island. This idyllic, uncrowded isle boasts crystalline waters and white-sand beaches fringed by coconut palms. There's also a lovely village whose residents practice the ancestral art of weaving. After taking a stroll through town and having lunch at a local restaurant, head to the beach for relaxation and snorkeling. You'll return to Bira later in the afternoon, just in time to see the sunset over the water.

Day 9: Transfer to Makassar, Depart

Experience a warm welcome when you arrive in Sulawesi
Farewell, Indonesia

Unfortunately, today you must say goodbye to Indonesia. Your driver will meet you early for the five-hour ride from the beaches of Bira back to Makassar. It's a long but scenic drive during which you'll pass colorful Bugis homes, green rice paddies, and salt marshes. You might even have time to stop at a shipyard where they build the elegant Phinisi sailboats that symbolize the seafaring culture of these islanders. When you arrive at the airport in Makassar, you'll catch your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Indonesia's South Sulawesi & the Tana Toraja Tribe - 9 Days
Map of Indonesia's South Sulawesi & the Tana Toraja Tribe - 9 Days