Testimonials from cyclists who have travelled in Toraja and South South Sulawesi, Indonesia
Toraja trip February 2010
Charlie Farren (retired teacher)
How fortunate I was to have heard about this amazing trip to Indonesia. It was an opportunity to visit and explore a
fascinating country which would not have been possible without the support and organisation of Cycle Indonesia. We
regularly travel as independent cycle tourists but it was obvious that to enjoy Sulawesi and begin to have an
understanding of the people, language and culture would have been impossible without the in depth knowledge provided
by Colin Freestone and his crew.
It was an extraordinary experience - lots of cycling, eating and sightseeing in a little known part of the world
which for Australians is virtually on our doorstep.
Scott Main (bike shop owner)
I did Colin’s South South Sulawesi and after it wrote that it was ‘awesome’.
This Toraja trip was double awesome. I used to be a professional cyclist so look at cycle trips with a critical
eye. For me this trip had everything. There was more than enough cycle challenge. The scenery was fantastic with
lots of variety. And Torajan culture is just so different to ours. The trip was really well planned with one day
rolling easily into the next. Each day too was planned and they too evolved naturally. Our group had a range of
cycling strength and experience but Colin kept us all together so that our spirits were always high. A terrific
cycling, cultural and social experience.
Lesley Hale (active retiree)
If you have reached this website then you are attracted by travel to unusual places, an authentic cultural
experience, supported challenging cycling, and the company of like-minded riders. Your next step is to clarify any
uncertainties about the itinerary, resolve any concerns about the route or terrain or climate, and basically ensure
that it is a trip that is right for you. The best way to do this is to email Colin with a few easy questions to
establish a dialogue; then answer the phone when he calls... and you will work it all out in no time.
Colin has a long association with Indonesia and is strongly motivated to share his love of the country and its
people with groups of fellow cyclists. The trip was truly remarkable, taking us through the coastal Buginese
(muslim) region to the cooler forested highlands where Torajan (Christian and animist) communities are recognizable
by their stunning architecture. Mid-way we took a break from cycling to trek through forests and steeply terraced
paddy fields to stay with a village clan in their homes, and completed the circuit next day by trekking two hours
to reach the river for a thrilling white-water rafting ride through gorges and past tall waterfalls. A favourite
memory from the trip was an unscheduled visit to an impressively joyful orphanage outside the main town where
children who had been at school for the morning shift treated us to an afternoon concert of music and dancing with
their bamboo orchestra.
The ride was fully supported with front and rear vehicles announcing "cyclists ahead", and it was a delight to
be cheered on by other road users and school-kids along the way. Rest stops were planned to suit the terrain,
weather, time of day, length of ride, and condition of the riders, sometimes after 30km, sometimes every 5 km.
Colin’s attitude was "it’s not a race, go at your own pace, and my aim is to get us all there". The leading
van-driver would pull over at each stop and flag down the riders; sometimes riders might have a quick nap in a
bamboo shelter or a tea/coffee while water bottles were filled and fruit/cakes distributed. As Colin was keen for
us to interact with the local people, he put some effort into Bahasa language sessions. When it was time to get on
our bikes after a stop, he would trigger a Bahasa numbering-off around the group, much to the delight of onlookers.
The equator goes through Sulawesi, so it is always hot; but the wet season rains can make it marginally less hot
than the mid-year dry season. Setting out early means you can do much of the riding in the cooler part of the day,
have lunch out of the sun, then complete the distance with lots of drink stops. We had minor showers a couple of
times while riding in February, and one downpour while in a restaurant at lunchtime; the real rain seemed to come
at the end of a day’s ride, or overnight. If swimming was possible - in the sea, a river, hot spring, or hotel pool -
While cycling happily in this foreign land, I often found myself musing about how privileged I felt to be sharing
Colin’s meticulously orchestrated journey with his charmingly attentive support crew and a cohesive group of
companions, several of whom had done "a Colin trip" six months earlier. Colin is an excellent group manager who
aims to get everyone to the finish, smiling; and that is how it unfolded for our group of strong and not so strong,
older and younger riders. Managing a group adventure like this is a gargantuan task, and Colin coped with all
eventualities expertly and sensitively; somehow, everyone’s preferences seemed to be accommodated throughout. I
wouldn’t be surprised to find myself on the 2011 (Central Sulawesi) trip with others from this one.
Ibi Losoncz (PhD student)
I’ve done two of Colin’s Sulawesi trips. I did South South Sulawesi in 2009 and six months later did the Toraja trip.
They were both fantastic; filled with well organized, different and exciting activities. The cycling was excellent
with some great hills and challenges. I’m not one to get excited about hills, but when the scenery is as beautiful as
that in Sulawesi, even the hills look good!!! Torajan culture and architecture is nothing I’ve seen before.
Every day was a new experience and a new discovery. The only thing that was constant is the friendliness of the
local people, who always had time for chat. I highly recommend this trip to anyone looking for a stress-free, well o
rganized, fun cycling holiday with some adventures (for good measure).
Paul Nicol (retired accountant)
I did the South South Sulawesi trip in August 2009. The heat and hills nearly killed me but the support of the group
and the friendliness of the Indonesian people – especially the kids – helped make up my mind to sign up for the
February 2010 Toraja trip. Cycle wise the second trip was better 'cause I prepared myself better. Culture wise this
Toraja trip has a lot going for it. Torajan life with its focus on water buffalo commerce and rituals associated with
'the dead' is a far cry from my life. Scenery wise Toraja's fantastic, with terraced hillsides, boat shaped houses
with the spires of European styled churches reaching for low lying clouds. I'm really glad I did both these trips.
I made new friends and felt that I achieved something. if you want a trip that really tests you , this is the one.
From South South Sulawesi (August 2009)
The following includes excerpts from testimonials written by riders who went on the 2009 South South Sulawesi trip.
Full testimonials are available, just send an email letting me know you’d like a copy. Also, all of the riders below
are happy to talk with anyone interested in cycling in South Sulawesi with Colin.
Jennie Attrill (nurse, 27)
For me, this was really a fantastic experience and I am very glad to have done it.
The descents, the delicious food, the breaks, beautiful and in some parts shabby scenery, snorkelling, karaoke,
accommodation, even toilet breaks and most memorably the curiosity, warmth and energy of the locals really made up
for these challenges. Colin was professional, enthusiastic, knowledgeable which made it a HELL of a lot easier
to interact with people of Salawesi and gain a feeling of the life on the island. Oops nearly forgot, yes, the
tour was well organised. I’ll be sure to sign up again for another trip... Feel free to contact me if you would
like to discuss my experience about this tour.
Scott Main (bike engineer, 42)
I took this trip in August 2009. It was AWESOME. I'd be happy to talk to anyone about it. Just phone me on +61 2
6260 4200 or email me.
Paul Nicol (retired accountant 65)
I paid dearly for my lack of preparation. But, the scenery, support from the other riders, the daily ride planning
and the incredible warmth and friendliness of the Indonesian people offset my aching limbs and over-worked
perspiration glands. I enjoyed myself so much so that I've decided to do another Sulawesi adventure... to Toraja...
Rob Wildman (Human resource manager, 54)
Colin, whose long experience in this part of the world, is very comfortable with the local customs and language, and in
putting together this trip, has got it ‘just right’.
The organisation of the journey is unseen and everything just
happens, seemingly without being arranged.
The trip simply puts you in a position where you can feel you have done it
on your own and this is where it is very different from other trips.
Ibi Losoncz (PhD student, 46)
What better way to discover this beautiful island and its culture than by cycling your way from one village to the
next? The organisation of the trip was excellent. It was well planned, but with room for spontaneous activities. The
group was well supported in every aspect; bike mechanics, refreshments including fresh local snacks at the stops,
yoga classes, fantastic dinners, and accommodation.
4/5 riders from August 2009 signed up to do the February 2010 Toraja trip. Jennie had to withdraw at the last minute.
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