SULAWESI & THE SPICE ISLANDS OF NORTH MALUKU
Sulawesi and North Maluku; islands of Indonesia in which unique traditions are still well alive, where wildlife is abundant both on and offshore, and landscapes are luscious and untouched.
Their tourist paths are relatively unworn, making for an ideal getaway for those wanting to explore the lesser-known cultural practices, wildlife and landscapes of Indonesia.
This three-week itinerary will see you travelling through Makassar in the south, journeying north through Sulawesi, immersing yourself in traditional village life along the way before relaxing in the highlands of Tomohon. Next, discover the native, intriguing and rare wildlife in Tangkoko Nature Reserve.
Head east to North Maluku where, underneath the clear waters, you’ll discover a world of pristine coral reefs brimming with rich marine life. Here at an eco-friendly dive resort, you'll have many opportunities to dive and snorkel through these waters. You'll also have a chance to explore a local village and discover some incredible birdlife.
End your holiday in the smaller, contrasting spice island Sultanates of bustling Ternate and peaceful Tidore.
Immerse yourself in Torajan village life and their fascinating traditions by visiting local markets and homes.
Get up close and personal with the friendly black crested macaques and other wildlife with a park ranger through Tangkoko Nature Reserve.
Cool off and relax in the picturesque highland region of Tomohon with two days at your leisure.
Spend several days at an eco-friendly dive resort snorkelling or diving amongst rich marine life in some of the world’s best coral reefs.
Explore the contrasting 'Spice Islands' of bustling Ternate and sleepy Tidore
DAY 1: DEPART THE UK
Depart the UK on your flight to Makassar in South Sulawesi.
DAYS 2 & 3: MAKASSAR CITY
Upon arrival at Makassar Airport, your expert local guide will transfer you to your hotel where you can spend the evening at your leisure.
The next morning, after a 1.5-hour drive, you will reach Rammang-Rammang village to board a boat for a sail along the river, admiring the breath-taking Karst mountain and limestone cliffs along the way. Enjoy lunch at the Udhin Eco-Lodge before returning to Makassar for a visit to the Paotere Schooner Harbor and a short walking tour of the city’s best landmarks. That evening we’ll recommend one of the superb seafood restaurants for your dinner.
DAY 4: TRANSFER TO TORAJA
After a short flight, you will arrive in Palopo, located in northern Makassar. Travelling with your guide and driver to Toraja, you’ll pass by magnificent tropical rainforests before stopping at several village graveyards. Next, pay a visit to Karuaya, one of the oldest Tongkonan traditional villages, and KeteKesu village, renowned for its woodcarving and unique Tongkonan houses and rice barns.
DAYS 5, 6 & 7: TANA TORAJA
Begin your first full day in Toraja with a glimpse into the local life of the area. After visiting a local market where goods and animals are traded, you will then wander through nearby traditional villages, watching daily life go by, before driving to the Lemo village graveyard, famous for its Tau-Tau effigies.
Day six will see you discovering more traditional Torajan ways of life by visiting a family who keep and preserve the Tomasaki Ullunna (the dead body) of their family members within their house. Continue to another Tongkonan traditional village for a unique experience in which a family will cook lunch for you to enjoy under their rice barn.
Depart Toraja on another scenic drive to Palopo, stopping by the Puncak Pass for a spectacular panorama of the dense tropical rainforest. Fly to Manado City where your driver will transport you to your resort in the picturesque highlands of Tomohon.
DAYS 8 & 9: THE HIGHLANDS OF TOMOHON
The highland area of Tomohon features a pleasant climate and is home to lush forests, towering volcanic peaks, beautiful flowers and fresh, delicious produce. You have the next two days to spend at your leisure. Perhaps you may want to pay a visit to the colour changing Lake Linow, bird watch or hike 30 minutes up to Mount Mahawu’s crater edge for panoramic views over the surrounding islands, Bay of Manado and the sulphur crater lake.
DAYS 10, 11 & 12: TANGKOKO NATURE RESERVE
Journey two hours into the fascinating Tangkoko Nature Reserve, passing small villages before reaching your accommodation where you can relax in the afternoon.
With a full day in the reserve, begin your morning with a walk accompanied by a forest ranger. Wander through the lush 9,000 hectares of land, spotting the famous and friendly Black Crested Macaques (indigenous to North Sulawesi), along with couscous bears, hornbills and many other bird species native to the area. After a boat ride through the mangroves, on an evening walk, you’ll have a greater chance at spotting the shy tarsiers as they hunt for the night.
DAYS 13, 14, 15 & 16: WEDA DIVE RESORT
Fly to from Manado to the island of Ternate this morning where you will transfer to a dock and board a speedboat ride to the mainland. After a three-hour drive, you’ll arrive at the eco-friendly Weda Dive Resort, situated in the heart of the coral triangle on Halmahera Island, it is ideal for keen divers, bird watchers and nature lovers alike.
With four days and three nights at the resort, you won’t be short on activities such as bird watching trips, snorkelling offshore and diving excursions to explore beautiful reefs and rich marine life. Relax by the pool, on the beach or in your bungalow by day and enjoy fresh, quality food at the restaurant or a drink at the bar in the evenings.
DAYS 17 & 18: TERNATE ISLAND
After your transfer back to Ternate, you will check in to your accommodation and are free to explore the city, or perhaps you may opt for an afternoon of snorkelling nearby at Sulamadaha beach.
Dominated by the Gamalama volcano, Ternate is a small, round island with a long history as the original ‘spice’ island. On your second day in the region, you’ll begin by visiting the mother of clove trees, ‘CengkehAfo’, known to be 350 years old. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before visiting several forts dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries as your guide explains the history behind each one. End your historical tour at the peculiar Tolire Lake. Set at the foot of Mount Gamalama, without any connection to the sea, it comprises an ecosystem of its own.
DAY 19: TIDORE ISLAND
Board a local fast boat this morning to Tidore island, arriving in less than an hour. After transferring to your privately chartered boat, you’ll head explore the Fort of Torre with your guide. Later, you’ll have the opportunity to experience local life upon visiting the Gurabunga Village in the slope of Mount Kiematubo, 800 metres above sea level.
DAY 20: FLY HOME
Fly back to Jakarta for your onwards connection homewards bound.