The rugged highlands of Sulawesi are home to the Toraja people, an indigenous population whose name derives from a derogatory Bugis word that means "bumpkin"! While the Toraja today are mostly Christian, they have held on to some of their customs and beliefs, particularly their elaborate funerary rites. In addition, the surrounding landscape is an excellent destination for outdoor sports and activities, among them watersports and trekking.


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Ancient Religious Rites

While many Torajans are now Christian, converted by missionaries under the Dutch colonial administration, many still practice the rites of their religion, Aluk Todolo, an amalgam of animism and ancestor worship. Learn about the intricate funerary rites of the Torajans, particularly the use of multiple burials, cave chambers, and wooden likenesses called tau-tau.

Buffalo Sacrifice

Attend a buffalo sacrifice at a funeral rite. Enjoy a meal with the local natives as you learn about their norms, mores and culture. Such feasts can last for days, if not weeks.

Coffee Plantation

Visit a Torajaland coffee plantation, where you can learn about the local means of production and cultivation. Take a sip of a special blend and if you wish, purchase coffee to bring back home with you.


Rantepao is the largest town in Tana Toraja, and is home to a fascinating market. Upwards of 600 buffalo, an animal integral to the Toraja way of life (and death) are on sale at any given time at Rantepao, with some fetching such astronomical prices as 22,000 USD. You will also see hundreds of pigs and many other animals for sale here, including roosters who are assessed for their prowess in cockfighting.

Tongkonan House

Visit the village of Palawa, which offers an excellent example of tongkonan, traditional Toraja homes. These unique edifices are perched on columns with vast roofs that curve upwards in imitation of the sweep of a buffalo’s horns. A family’s wealth may be measured in columns of buffalo horns displayed outside the home. Meet local villagers and, through your guide and interpreter, chat with them about their lives.

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