Tana Toraja Indonesia, is just one of those stunning places to visit. It has all of the right ingredients: friendly people, tribal traditions, history, and absolutely gorgeous scenery in the mountains. One of the best ways to see it all is to go hiking in the mountains, where you may stumble upon some of the Tana Toraja dead.
*Check out my post on what to pack for travel to Indonesia.*
If you can arrange it, which shouldn’t be to hard to do, then staying with a local family in a traditional house up in a remote mountain village, is great to get a local experience.
The countryside high up is surrounded by mountains, often shrouded in misty clouds, and scattered with small villages amongst the beautiful rice terraces.
Wandering out from your homestay with the local family, you can walk through these rice fields and down through other villages, meeting the extremely friendly and hospitable people.
However don’t expect total peace as you will be swamped by the local children! This is not a bad thing though as the children are friendly and playful, and are very happy to show you around. If you get remote enough into the mountains and walk off the main road, then the people in the villages will not be used to lots of foreigners visiting.
If you are lucky enough there may be a funeral ceremony going on somewhere in the area. This may sound morbid, but it is a very cultural thing to witness, and you can expect to feel very welcomed when visiting such an event. All the people from nearby villages show up for the funeral ceremonies.
Parts of the funeral ceremonies will not appeal to some people but you could always skip those parts. Hitching a ride between different areas in the mountains is a good idea. The distances can be big enough, and to save time some form of transport to drive you for an hour or so is welcome.
As said before the scenery is stunning to walk through. Rice terraces descending through large boulders, and often disappearing into the clouds with mountains in the background. You will also pass the occasional cliff carved burial sites and stone monoliths, and plenty of small villages with their traditional houses. Many of these old houses have buffalo horns displayed at the front.
Sleeping up in the cool mountain air with the stars shining bright above, is what you want to get away from it all. Total peace and quiet, with just the sound of nature. Waking to rice terraces covered in cloud, you could be in a dreamworld.
Continuing to walk from village to village, passing all the time the friendly people, you can see the locals at work in the fields, while the children play happily nearby on the way to school.
It’s easy to get lost if taking the wrong turn, but that’s not such a bad thing, and the locals will soon point you in the right direction again. You could spend as much time as you want in the mountains of Tana Toraja. There are plenty of walks to do, and it would never get boring, given the people, history, and amazing scenery.
Ounce you do reach the more modern towns, you can treat yourself to some local food. One of the best is chicken or pork (pork being the best) steamed inside bamboo with various vegetables. It is delicious!
Many people when visiting Indonesia tend to stick to the most popular areas such as Bali. But places like Tana Toraja are not so hard to get to, and can be a much more rewarding destination to visit. Take a cheap domestic flight from Bali or Java to Makassar on Sulawesi, then an eight hour bus ride, and you will be in one of the most interesting places you may ever see.
Tana Toraja is certainly not off the beaten path, it gets its fair share of visitors. But get high into the mountains and stay with local families and you can escape it all.
Go ahead and escape the usual crowds in Indonesia, and make a getaway to Tana Toraja.