Sulawesi, formerly known as Celebes, is a holiday destination that is becoming popular nowadays with those in search of the exotic. Most interesting to visitors are the more populated north and south regions while the central region is a little known area rarely visited ( through, of course, for some travelers this is the most attractive regions . Such as ; Bada Valley ( Lore Lindu ) for its Megalithic Culture and Birding site, Togean Islands with its fantastic under-sea-garden and its coral reefs, and Morowali Nature Reserve.
North Sulawesi is a land of magnificent coral reefs protecting virgin-white beaches, mountains and active volcanoes, reminding the islanders and the world of the potential power of one of the earth's most awesome forces. The people of North Sulawesi can be classified into four groups; Minahasa, Bolaang Mongondow, Gorontalo and the Sangir-Talaud. The Minahasa are centered around the Provincial capital of Manado, but the entire province has a strong tradition of trade and contact with the outside world. The Sangir-Talaud islands, to the north of the mainland, form a natural bridge to the Philippines providing a convenient route for peoples and cultures to easily move between Indonesia and the Philippines, and many traces of Filipino culture can still be found here. Apart from introducing a strong political and religious structure, the Filipinos encouraged the local populations to raise coconuts, copra and nutmeg. Today the main industries of the province are copra and cloves. North Sulawesi has a larger concentration of coconut trees than any other part of Indonesia. The Dutch, however, have had the strongest influences on the development of the region. First contact with European traders came in the 16th century with the arrival of the Spanish and Portuguese, and with them they brought Christianity. It wasn't until the arrival of the Dutch that Christianity became the predominant religion of the area. Provincial capital of Manado is one of the international gateways into Indonesia. Regular flights to all parts of the Indonesian archipelago service this beautiful town, as well as the smaller airports of Gorontalo, Tahuna and Talaud. Manado's main attractions are off-shore: the truly incredible coral reefs off nearby Bunaken island are now a protected Marine Park and offer some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world.
TOGIAN ISLANDS Located in Poso regency, these numerous offshore islands with white-sandy beaches and spectacular underwater views, are perfect for snorkeling, diving or just relaxing on the beach watching the sunset. Getting There : From Poso it is a 3.5 hours drive to Ampana following a 5 hour boat ride to Wakai. Facilities include cottages and restaurants for your maximum comfort MEGALITHS The famous megaliths stones nestled in Napu, Besoa and Bada valleys in Central Sulawesi are among the world's unsolved puzzles. They are covered with unique and mysterious carvings. Some of the better known megaliths are Pokoke, Suso, Pekaselle, Tadaluko, and Watu Palindo being the biggest of them all (4.5 m high)These valleys can be reached by bus from Palu, the capital city of Central Sulawesi, then a moderate hike through magnificent forest to the village. LORE LINDU NATIONAL PARK a 229,000 hectare tropical rainforest in Central Sulawesi providing a natural habitat for many species of flora and fauna such as palm trees, agatish, anoa, deer hog, monkeys and tarsisius. Getting there : - a 60 km drive from Palu to Kamarora. - a 63 km drive from Palu to Sidaunta and a 17 km hike further to Lake Lindu. - a 100 km drive from Palu to Gimpu and a moderate hike further to Bada valley. Facilities available : guest house, home stay and food stall. LAKE POSO Located in Poso regency, stretching 32.3 km long and 16 km wide. The lake is surrounded by a magnificent forest view with crystal clear water for swimming and provides a perfect setting for outdoor lovers of all ages. Situated around the lake are several attractions namely : Bancea Orchid Garden, Saluopa Waterfall, Sulewana Waterfall, Pamona and Latea Caves and also the lake Poso Festival Ground.Lake Poso is accessible by car about 1.5 hours drive from Poso or a 7 hour drive from Palu Facilities available : hotel, cottage and restaurant.
Situated at the crossroads of strategic sea lanes steeped in history, the province of South Sulawesi consists of the narrow south-western peninsula of this mountainous, orchid-shaped island. The capital and chief trading port, Makassar, is still the gateway to eastern Indonesia. Spanish and Portuguese galleons, followed by British and Dutch traders, sailed these seas in search of the spice trade, escorted by their men-of-war to protect them from the daring raids of the Bugis and Makassar pirates. Famed for their seafaring culture, the Bugis are still the driving force behind the world's last commercial sailing fleet. Bugis vessels have sailed as far as Australia, leaving behind images of their ships carved in stone, and Bugis words which were integrated into the Aboriginal language of northern Australia. The seafaring Bugis dominate the southern tip of Sulawesi, but in the rugged and remarkable country further north is Tana Toraja, often referred to as the "Land of the Heavenly Kings". The traditional culture of the Torajans rivals any in the archipelago, making this area one of the most popular tourist destinations in Indonesia. Believing that their forefathers descended from heaven in a boat some twenty generations ago, the Torajas have a unique Christian-animist culture. The majority of the people still follow an ancestral cult called "Aluk Todolo", which governs all traditional ceremonies. Their ancestor worship includes elaborate death and afterlife ceremonies, which are essentially great feasts. A strict social hierarchy is followed in the villages, and for an important figure, wedding and burial ceremonies can take days to perform. Water buffalo and pigs are sacrificed in numbers appropriate to social rank, and the deceased's remains are placed in a coffin and interred in caves guarded by lifelike statues, called Tau Tau, who look out from a balcony near the burial caves, watching over the families and friends they have left behind. Tongkonan, the family houses, are built on stilts with the roof rearing up at either end, representing the prows of the first ship to arrive in the area with the Torajan ancestors. The houses all face north, and some say that this is because it was from the north that the ancestors of the Toraja came. Others, however will say that the north (and east) are regarded as the realm of the gods, on the compass of life.South Sulawesi is also famous for its tremendous scenery and the quality and talent of its silk and silver work industries, but the economy is largely based on agriculture. The provincial capital of Makassar, however, has excellent facilities for water sports and is easily accessible by air.
The south-eastern peninsula and Buton group of islands are inhabited by descendents of the Torajans and Bugis peoples, and due to the strong influence of the Islamic Bone kingdom most of the people in this part of Sulawesi are Muslim. There are five diverse cultural groups : the Tolaki, Morunene, Buton, Muna (locally called the Wuna), and the Bajo. Most of the land area of Southeast Sulawesi is covered by natural jungle, with extensive plantations of teak and ironwood, which are used for local handicrafts and contribute to the local economy. The warmth of the Sulawesi people, the local flora, fauna and untouched beaches are the highlights of this unique locale. Up to the present day it has avoided inundation by tourists, and is waiting to reveal its natural beauty and the spirit of the people who live in it.