South of Sulawesi. Labengki and Sombori

SOUTH OF SULAWESI. Culture, mountains and beaches.

A brief explanation of the route.

The island of Célebes (Sulawesi in Indonesian) is very easy to reach vis Makassar (south) or also Manado (north). Transport throughout the island is difficult to plan with precision, although it could be more interesting, even more authentic. From north to south there is so much to offer and although it´s well known for its Toraja culture we shouldn´t forget it´s unbelievable diving (Bunaken, Togian, Bira, Wakatobi) so like it´s floating villages in Sengkang, still unknown paradises like Labengki and Sombori or the possibility to see tarsier monkeys along with other endemic species in the Tangkoko Natural Reserve.

The south of Sulawesi offers an interesting route in which we can enjoy the incredible diving and beautiful beaches in Bira. See the artesan construction of the Indonesian gulets ¨Pinisi¨, share a coffee with the people of the floating villages of the Lago temple in Sengkang and marvel at the ancestral Toraja culture which died a while ago, all this around a marvelous landscape.

Tana Toraja en Sulawesi con Tryalltrips

It will take us one day by car to reach Bira from Makassar along the coast. We can enjoy the impressive views during alost the whole journey and take advantage to take photos of the huge saltworks that extract the salt from the sea in the traditional way or seeing how they construct the traditional ¨Pinisi¨ in Marumasa ansd Tanah Beru. Once in Bira it´s worthwhile spending 2 or 3 nights on the tiny island of Liucanglu on which there are no more than 2 small villages, marvelous diving and dusks straight out of a movie.

Our route continues from Bira towards the north to Sengkang where we will learn how to work silk with the rudimentary fabrics and visit its floating village on the Tempe lake. If we can we can spend the night with them and watch the sunrise in this pretty location. From Sengkang we continue our journey towards Tana Toraja to spend a few days travelling through its valleys and mountains, visiting its strange ceremonies and getting soaked in its culture and customs.

Transport. ¿How we arrive?

Once we arrive in Makassar, well connected by international plane or from Denpasar (Bali) by domestic airplane we will carry out all stages of the route by car or private van depending on the participants of the group, to be refreshed with snacks and music on the trip. In Ramang-Ramang and Sengkang respectively, we will use a local boat to visit two villages and in Bira we take a speedboat to visit the island of Liukangloe.

El alojamiento

Tendremos dos opciones de llegada a Indonesia y según estas opciones nos alojaremos en distintos sitios antes de iniciar la ruta desde Makassar. En ambas opciones se llega a Indonesia por la noche.

  • Si llegamos a Denpasar (Bali) nos alojaremos en el Novotel del aeropuerto, o similar, para descansar y así por la mañana temprano volar a Makassar e iniciar la ruta.
  • Si llegamos a Makassar nos alojaremos en el Ibis del aeropuerto, o similar, y así iniciaremos también la ruta por la mañana.

Una vez en ruta, nos alojaremos en Rantepao, Sengkang Y Bira.  Ya de vuelta, el último día nos alojaremos en Makassar antes de continuar camino a un nuevo destino el día siguiente.

The route (8 days, 7 nights)

We will make ourselves comfortable, it will be 8 days to cover the whole Southeast of Sulawesi by car, visiting the most characteristic places in the area , Ramang-Ramang, Tana Toraja, Sengkang and Bira and we will divide it like this.

  • Day 1 Makassar-Toraja (-/L/D): Our guide will collect us in Makassar and start our journey towards Toraja. On the way we will Tana toraja Villagepass and visit Ramang-Ramang a small village hidden between the mountains and with a karstic beautiful landscape which can only be reached by canoe through Rio Puente. We will take a walk through its rice paddies and start to fill our memory cards with fantastic views. We will have lunch in Pare-Pare another small village on the way and in the evening in the mountains of Bambapuang we stop for a short rest, enjoy a coffee and the incredible views . We will arrive at sunset to settle in and have dinner in the hotel Rantepao.
  • Day 2 and 3 Toraja (B/L/D): To say that attending a funeral ceremony is something that does not depend on a programme and it could be that we don´t see it. Nevertheless the guides ar in contact with people to know where there could be one so at the drop of a hat we could be fortunate to visit one. Anyway the Toraja programme has a lot to offer like visiting the traditional ancient houses (Tongkonan) we will see the unique Tau Tau (representations of dead people) of stone in Simbuang, also we will see excavated caves in the rock that were used as tombs and see how still their interior and sarcophagus of wood are still intact. All of this around the rice paddies and a movie-like landscape. In Kambira there is still a tree that was used to bury children who died prematurely by placing them in a hole in the trunk hoping that little by little the tree would cure the wound and bury the body in its interior. We will visit the huge animal market where the stars are buffalo and pigs and we can do some trekking (about 2 hours) by the mountains and where we can see some impotent landscapes of rice fields with Rantepao at the bottom of the valley. Definitely 2 very intense days before starting our trip towards Sengkang.This programme doesn´t have a set order or timetable, we can play it by ear in the moment.
  • Day 4 Toraja-Sengkang (B/L/D): At approximately 9am we begin our route towards Sengkang to arrive at noon. Our first stop will be at Lake Tempe where we will visit the only tribe on Sulawesi that still lives on floating houses in the interior of the lake. We will learn about their way of life in an atmosphere of unique nature and without a doubt enjoy a tip in a canoe to their village and the sight of many types of wild aves. After lunch, on the return to the lake, it´s worth seeing and admiring how they still manually work silk, creating colours and beautiful fabrics. At night we will stay in our hotel and have dinner in a local restaurant.
  •  Day 5 Sengkang- Tanjung Bira (B/L/D): After breakfast we continue our adventure to Bira. On the way we will stop in Kajang, home to one of the most distinctive tribes of Indonesia. We will have to dress in black to visit this village. The locals are very respectful of the nature and try to avoid anything that has anything to do with modern technology. We will be able to observe their daily routines and the tribe leader will share their experiences and beliefs with us. At dusk we will arrive in Bira to settle in for the night and have dinner in the hotel.
  • Day 6 Tanjung Bira (B/L/D): This will be a free day to enjoy the beach and relax. At midday the chef will prepare us a delish seafood barbeque and in the evening after sunset the guide will take us to dinner in a local restaurant.
  • Day7 Tanjung Bira (B/L/D): At 8.30am we will be take to the local port where we board a boat to bring us to Kambing island and Liukang island. Snorkelling and beach will be the main activities apart from a barbecue that will be prepared for us in Liukang for lunch. At about 3.30pm we return to the hotel.
    It is possible to stay the night in Liunkang with advanced notification .
  • Day 8 Tanjung Bira-Makassar (B/L/-): After breakfast we leave towards Makassar to finish our trip but on the way we will have the opportunity to see Tana Beru the construction of the famous Indonesian gukets ¨Pinisi¨ using the traditional method utilized over generations. Tanu Beru is the most important construction center of east Indonesia. We can enjoy the amazing views during the whole journey and have lunch in a local restaurant enroute. Once in Makassar we will get settled and say goodbye to our guide to leave the next day to our next destination.

Labengki y Sombori

A brief explanation of the area and location

Little information can be found online about this destination, so maybe this will be one of the first articles (at least in Spanish) about these islands owned by the northern province of Konawe in the little known southeast of Sulawesi whose capital is Kendari. A city that holds little more interest than it´s accommodation that we use as a port of entrance to this undiscovered paradise.

The Bajau are the main inhabitants on Labengki and the largest population nucleus is on the island known as ¨small Labengki¨ with only about 500 people living there mainly living off the ocean. It´s incredible clear, clean waters together with the amount of isolated islands and carst formations make Labengki and Sombori a true paradise easily compared to it´s bigger relative Raja Ampat in East Papua or even El Nido on the Philipian island of Palawan. We will discover deserted beaches , caves and romantic bays where we can snorkel and go kayaking relaxed.

Labengki and sombori. Water and beach

A delight of travelling without a calendar is not being afraid of challenges and adapting to daily changes that can lead to discover remote places. For exactly this reason, without losing the spirit of adventure in Tryalltrips we have designed this trip carefully and patiently to spend 5 unforgettable days visiting these islands without worries. For more informationvisit my blog and please don´t hesitate in contacting me.

Transport. How we arrive?

By plane from Makassar we will arrive approximately 1 hour later in Kendari at about 10.30am where the guide will be waiting for us to begin the journey by boat towards Labengki.


In Kendari we will spend the first night , and the last before our return, in the Grand Clarion hotel in a double room with a buffet breakfast included. It is one of the best hotels on Kendari and it´s interior houses various restaurants one of which has amazing views of the city and bay. Also available are western menus and a large variety of drinks.

In Labengki we will settle in a small local resort situated in one of the prettiest places of Sulawesi. We will stay in cabañas for 2 people with private bathroom built right above the surface of the sea to which we have direct access by a footbridge and where we can go snorkeling or 

whatever takes our fancy. 

This accommodation includes 3 traditional meals a day and they will delight us with the freshest of fish. We will have kayaks to visit on our own the beaches that surround the resort in our free time when we return from the organized excursions.

As an extra there are 2 ziplines that cross between both bays one of which is one of the largest in Indonesia. In the bar restaurant cold beer is available thanks to the solar energy that fuels the electricity, something that is very valuble as we will be able to have electricity during the whole day. 

Planned excursions by boat (4 days, 3 nights)

Sombori excursion: We head by boat towards the island of Sombori ,one hour away, and we will visit some of it´s beaches and caves like Allo cave , Air Kiri beach, Rumah Nenak and Berlian cave. We will have lunch in Mbokita, a small island inhabited by fishermen. Later we can go up to the highest point of Sombori where we can enjoy the incredible views that remind us of Raja Ampat. By the evening we will be on our way back to our resort in Labengki to rest and relax.

 Excursion of the surroundings of Labengki:We must sail to visit the Hidden Lagoon and Pasir Merah beach incredible landscapes of which the photos will be breathtaking. From there we return to Pasir Panjang beach where we will have lunch and have the possibility to go snorkeling before going back to the resort to relax.

Excursions to little Labengki: A half an hour sailfrom the resort you find this little island inhabited by the Bajao people, a typical community of fishermen, where we can observe their daily life. Also we will visit Kolam Renang Cave, a beautiful cave with a natural interior swimming pool and we have the possibility of going up to the island´s lighthouse. After having lunch, on the way back to the resort , we will visit the Blue Lagoon and the Twin Lagoon before returning to rest.

All of these excursions are not subject to a set timetable and there is flexibility to spend more or less time in each location as the case may be.

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