The land of Toraja in Sulawesi, Indonesia, is famed for its unique culture in celebrating death through elaborate funerary ceremony with animal sacrifice, song and dance; the locals believe their loved ones departed for a better afterlife. In Toraja, the departed are mummified and could stay side-by-side with the livings for years before a funeral is held. Even after burial for years, the dead would be brought out from tomb to be groomed and dressed in new outfit. Let’s discover the unique realm of death and eternal in Toraja, a land that mixed Christianity and traditional paganism customs.
Take an afternoon flight to Makassar, provincial capital of South Sulawesi. Upon arrival, transfer to hotel. After dinner in downtown, take a stroll along Losari Beach where the “floating mosque” Masjid Amirul Mukminin is located, enjoy the lively atmosphere at seafront promenade lined with street food stalls. (Remarks: tour member based outside of Malaysia could meet the group in Makassar)
After breakfast, a long drive (8h) by chartered transport to Tana Toraja. En-route passing Bugis settlements with typical traditional houses on stilts. Lunch stop on a beach front area, enjoy sea view and breeze while dining. The drive then continue through winding mountain road, coffee break at mountain pass for panoramic view of ranges surrounding Mt. Nona. Late afternoon arrive in Rantepao, the administrative center of Toraja, and our base for next few days to explore surrounding sights.
August is a peak season for holding funerals in Toraja, possible to observe the ceremony full of sights and sounds (*see Reminder). Discover unique Toraja culture in celebrating death and caring for the departed. Visit various burial sites – the cave system graves in Londa; the burial cliffs in Lemo; the tree-tomb in Kambira, where dead babies are laid into Tarra tree with white sap symbolizing mother’s milk, over time the babies blend into the trees and back to Mother Nature. Also visit ensemble of traditional houses named Tongkonan in Kete Kesu.
Morning visit Makale animal market, mainly trading pigs and buffalos. In Toraja, Buffalo is deemed holy, locals believe the animal sacrifice during ceremony would allow the soul of the dead to reach paradise. Later, visit the world’s tallest statue of Jesus Christ (40m) standing on top of Buntu Barake Hill overlooking Makale town. Afternoon, explore Tampang Allo, a massive cave where bones and skulls of departed commoners are neatly arranged. The remains of noblemen, however, are placed inside coffins adorned with various carvings.
Visit the stone burial ground of Lo’Ko’ Mata, with holes cut into the rock for placing bodies of the departed, the holes are adorned with colourful doors and wooden effigies (tau-tau). Later, drive to Lolai for a leisure hike through terraced rice fields, hanging bamboo bridges, and traditional villages, with nice view of green valleys. Mingle with locals when passing and exploring villages. Overnight in Lolai village.
Lolai is known as the land above clouds (Negeri Di Atas Awan). Wake up early for amazing sunrise view, with misty clouds shrouding the mountain valleys below. After breakfast, transfer back to Rantepao, upon arrival, free and easy.
After breakfast, depart from Toraja region and head south to Sengkang, where Lake Tempe is located. Lunch stop on the way, and upon arrival in Sengkang, explore a traditional silk-weaving village. Later, take a boat trip on Lake Tempe to visit floating houses resided by fishermen. Learn about the way of life on the waters, admire sunset view on the lake. Overnight in Sengkang downtown hotel.
After breakfast, drive back to Makassar Airport, lunch on the way. Late afternoon, catch a flight bound for Kuala Lumpur. Arrive at destination at night. End of tour.
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