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I’ve had family, work and recreational involvement with Indonesia since 1968. I want to share, through cycling with like-minded people, my love, knowledge and experience of Indonesian life, culture and environment.

This is to maximize activity time in Tana Toraja and to complement cycling with trekking, white water rafting, learning the Indonesian language and exploring the distinctive culture of the Torajan people.

The total cycle distance will be approximately 530 km spread over 6 days.

The group will assemble in Makassar. We’ll minibus 215 km north to Sengkang, on the shores of Lake Tempe and home of the South Sulawesi silk weaving industry. We’ll cycle 170 km over to and up the east coast to the entrance to Tana Toraja at Palopo. From Palopo we’ll climb 90 km westwards into misty mystical Toraja land. For the next 6 days we’ll cycle, trek and raft our way around the mountains and valleys of Toraja. The next two days will be a wonderful 160 km descent from Rantepao to Enrekang on to west coast Pare-Pare. We’ll minibus the 150 km from Pare-Pare to Makassar.




Cycling 6 days
Trekking 1 day
Rafting 1 day
Rest 'n' recreation 1 day
Vehicle transport 2 days
Organization 2 days
TOTAL 13 days

The route will take us over mostly smooth, uncrowded and fully bituminised roads. The overwhelming majority of the trip will be on traffic-quiet mountain roads..






3 Sengkang - Buntumatabing 90 Gently undulating. Generally good surface (GGS).
4 Buntumatabing - Palopo 80 Mostly undulating, with one or two medium ascents on GGS.
5 Palopo - Batumunmogga 90 Mostly ascending on GGS, the last 10 km quite steep on not so good a road.
8 Cycling around Toraja 105 Medium undulating with little flat terrain on a variety of road surfaces.
10 Rantepao - Enrekang 90 Mostly undulating descent on GGS but will include one or two medium-hard ascents.
11 Enrekang - Pare-Pare 70 Descending undulating but includes some easy ascents on GGS.


Sengkang Floating village, silk weaving, textiles market, living museum at Batu-Batu.
Buntumatabing Fishing villages.
Palopo Museum Batara Guru.
Butumunmogga Wonderful views of Rantepao, cave graves, distinctive Torajan architecture.
Limbong Accommodation in traditional Toraja village
Rantepao Centre of Torajan culture. Livestock markets. (Usually) ritual funeral ceremonies.
Enrekang Quiet riverside Islamic town.
Pare-Pare Lonely planet describes it as a smaller, greener version of Makassar.
Makassar Makassar is the major city in eastern Indonesia. Fort Rotterdam, a traditional harbour, gold shops, good reflexology and interesting souvenir shops.

The general daily plan will be to be on the road by 6 am and to have reached, or nearly reached, our destination by lunchtime. Dinners will be at about 7 pm to allow us to get to bed early.

The tour price includes instruction in the Indonesian language. The overall trip plan will include daily instruction in the national language of Indonesia (bahasa Indonesia). Indonesians warm quickly to foreigners who make the effort to learn their language because not many foreigners actually do this. It’s been my experience that if you take one step linguistically towards Indonesians they’ll take ten towards you. I’ve taught bahasa Indonesia at both high school and university levels and I’m looking forwards to sharing this experience with fellow cyclists.

Topics to be covered will include:
• Greetings
• Forms of address
• Asking directions
• Counting
• Ordering drinks
• Ordering food
• Bargaining
• Frequently Asked Questions

On 8 of the 12 days swimming will be possible.

The tour price includes all breakfasts, most lunches and most dinners. Food in Indonesia is generally tasty and often chilli hot. Food in Sulawesi is no exception, the difference being that it features lots of fish and a local beef casserole dish called Coto. The chillies can be avoided if they don’t agree with you.

Outside of Makassar the variety of food is somewhat limited because there are no cold storage facilities available and most people, being farmers, eat at home rather than ‘out’.

Along the way we’ll come across ladies at fruit stalls selling fruits in season, such as mangoes, watermelons, rambutans and durian.

Bottled water is available in most places. And most regions have their village cake specialities.

On the trip there will be an effort to provide modified standard Indonesian food. There will be no attempt to provide Western food because besides being hard to get, outside of Makassar, the expectation is that this trip will attract people who want to experience Indonesian life ‘as it is’ it.

It is stressed that this trip is not on any tourist route and as such tourist food will generally not be available, and, in the mountain locations in Toraja only Torajan village food will be available. We could ‘take in’ food but that would detract from the experience.

In some of the places that we pass through, for religious reasons, alcohol may not be easy to purchase or it may not be on sale. Alcohol in Toraja is usually available because it is predominantly Christian.

There’ll be 3 cycle days from Sengkang to Batutumongga (in Tana Toraja) followed by single trekking and rafting days. Then a cycle day around Toraja folllowed by a full rest day in Rantepao and then 2 cycle days from Toraja to Pare-Pare. Two days will be taken up by transport to and from the edge of Toraja, and one admin day in Makassar.

There will be a range of accommodation the guiding principles being (a) to provide the best (or close to) that is available in the area and (b) traditional accommodation if it is available.

The breakdown will be:

International standard hotel 6
Traditional Torajan house 2
Indonesian wisma (guesthouse) 4

Accommodation will generally be ‘twin share’ meaning two single beds per room. In some places for an extra charge, it will be possible for participants to book single rooms or rooms with double beds. In some places ONLY double beds are available. Rooming allocations will be done on a rotational and a gender sensitive basis.

If you know you snore you may need to purchase a single room because people - sad to say -often do not like sharing rooms with snorers.

Riders should bring mosquito repellent, mosquito nets and sleeping sheets, just in case.

If the group size exceeds 11 we plan to use two support vehicles with drivers who have some facility with English, plus a cycle mechanic who will provide technical support throughout. The vehicles will be for luggage and spells ONLY for those who really need them.

We’re planning on a group of 14 - 16 cyclists hopefully from all over the world.

Bring your own bike and own spare parts.

We suggest you bring a hybrid or a mountain bike. We advise against bringing a road bike. It does not matter what brand, shape or size it is. The important thing is that it is comfortable for YOU and it’ll go the distance. We will not be supplying bikes. Bike Friday (BF) is featured in this website because I ride one and Lynette from BF has been most supportive in the development of this site.

We will provide a bike mechanic, and a logistics manager, an Australian Indonesian speaking trip leader and an Indonesian language teacher.

We will be obtaining approval from the Indonesian police authorities to hold this event. In the event of any emergency the support vehicles will be available for rapid transport to Makassar. You will be asked to provide evidence of travel and medical insurance.

At any point in the trip we should not be more than 1-2 hours from medical assistance. The Indonesian ministries for Police and Tourism will be informed of this trip before it begins and reports will be made to local police authorities as it develops.

We’ll be bringing a well stocked first aid kit.

We’ll provide you with a WTBL in the months before departure.

A button for FAQs appears on the HOME PAGE.

When the group is known and with WRITTEN PERMISSIONS FROM PARTICIPANTS names and email addresses will be shared.

Drivers in South Sulawesi are generally more respectful towards cyclists than their Australian counterparts. Away from Makassar, the drivers are mostly commercial drivers who know the roads and how to behave on them.

The people in South Sulawesi are welcoming towards foreign visitors and are especially friendly towards cyclists and are super friendly to foreigners who are making an effort to learn bahasa Indonesia.

You may’ve read about sectarian based violence in Sulawesi. What violence that occurred did not occur anywhere near our route and in any case such violence is now a thing of the past. There are three major ethnic groups in South Sulawesi - the Buginese, the Makassarese and the Torajas. They each have their own language and culture.

The rural parts of the southern part of Sulawesi is peopled mostly by Buginese and Makassarese. Makassar is a cosmopolitan city with influences from all over the world in evidence. The culture of the region has been shaped by six centuries of Islam. The lingua franca and national language is bahasa Indonesia. In the towns there are sprinklings of other ethnic groups such as Chinese and Torajans most of whom follow Christianity. There are buddist temples in Makassar. There is good religious harmony between the different religious groups.

We've included a full map of Indonesia and Sulawesi showing the route.

Download map

SITE LAST UPDATED: 13 October 2009

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