Tailor Made Travel in Sulawesi, Indonesia . Small Group & Tailormade, personally bespoke itineraries with Arc Journeys
TRAVEL IN SULAWESI with Arc Journeys
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We give here a selection of general interest itineraries through the Indonesian Archipelago. You don't have to be interested in any particular subject to appreciate the wonderful diversity of this region. You can benefit from many of the elements of the Special Tours without studying anything in particular. The itineraries are planned so that every tour provides opportunities for plenty of relaxation or activity; swimming in lakes or the sea, appreciating arts and crafts, jungle or volcano walks, seeing wildlife and getting to know unusual cultures. You choose how active you want to be, all walking is optional, which means you do not have to be especially fit, just open to new experiences. The friendliness and hospitality of the people we meet leaves a lasting impression on all our guests and of course you will have the benefit of all our local contacts. The local style small hotels or homestays we usually use are staffed by people who treat us as personal guests, often inviting us to take part in their family or village festivals. We can arrange any kind of accommodation from simple guesthouses to some of the most exclusive hotels in the world, although if you require five star hotels throughout, your itinerary would be restricted to only the well known destinations. These tours are designed to be taken at a sensible pace, avoiding long road journeys so that you have more time to relax and experience the places you visit properly.
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North Sumatra offers the chance to experience some of the worlds oldest surviving rainforests and the unusual culture of the Bataks. You can relax away from it all, swim in lakes and rivers, visit the Orangutan Centre or trek across country and up volcanos if you are feeling energetic.
Arts and Crafts
The Toba Batak people love to sing and as well as creating their own form of popular music they have adapted their traditional singing to suit their fairly recent conversion to Christianity from cannibalism. You can see the scared Ulos being woven on backstrap looms, traditional dance, woodcarving and the distinctive architecture of their houses, churches and tombs.
Swimming in Lake Toba or "tubing" down the Bohorok river in an inner tube. Walking, from gentle strolls, to an optional three day jungle trek, two day hill trek or one day volcano hike.
Fly into Medan, Bukit Lawang Orangutan Rehabilitation Sanctuary, walks in the rainforest, swimming or tubing in the river or relax in the gardens around your bungalow and sample the local foods. Brastagi and the villages of the Karo Highlands famous for their fruits, interesting architecture and customs and for the intrepid the chance of a night in a Batak Longhouse, elephant riding, volcano trekking, or maybe a little golf on our hotel course! Samosir Island, Lake Toba, the largest lake in S.E. Asia; Batak singing, music, dance, ikat weaving, traditional buildings and culture, trekking, cycling, boating and of course swimming from our lake front hotel. Return to Medan.
This is the land of the Minangkabau, descendents of the ancient Srivijaya empire who have retained their matrilineal society despite conversion to Islam. Their refined culture is expressed in their many arts which they proudly maintain. The region they occupy is very picturesque and rises from the coral islands of the coast, through the valleys with their lakes and rice terraces dotted with traditional horned roofed houses, the spice groves of the lower slopes, the jungle of the upper slopes to the peaks of smoking volcanos.
Arts and Crafts
In the Minangkabau villages you will find songket brocade woven with gold thread, woodcarving and exquisite filigree silverwork. We can also see their vigorous but elegant dance (including one performed on broken china) and agricultural crafts such as blacksmithing, coffee milling and sugar production.
Have a go at rice harvesting, pick spices, wager on a comical Buffalo contest where the only ones in danger are the crowd, walk through the canyon to craft villages, trek in the jungle, climb a volcano for dawn, or just relax and swim in Lake Maninjau.
Fly into Padang, a short and beautiful drive to Bukittinggi in the hills. Minangkabau villages; distinctive horned roofed houses and palaces, dance, weaving, silverwork, woodcarving, village industries, duck races and buffalo contests. Lake Maninjau; an outstandingly beautiful crater lake surrounded by jungle covered cliffs. Swimming, boating, walking, cycling or tennis on the hotel courts. Pariaman on the coast seldom sees a foreign visitor and is our departure point for snorkelling off uninhabited coral islands. Return to Padang.
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Java has been the power base of the region for centuries and the monuments of ancient Hindu and Buddhist empires, the effects of 400 years of Dutch rule and a similar period of Islamic society are most evident here. It is best to avoid Jakarta and the teeming north in favour of the royal cities of the south and the mountains of the centre.
You can commence in Yogya which is understandably popular for its arts and crafts then move on to Solo which is its mirror image, also built around its palaces and batik trade but a sleepy town with few tourists. The white walled alleys between the main boulevards are reminiscent of the Mediterranean and you can take an optional bicycle tour out to the fields and craft villages. You can stay at the cool mountain resort of Bandungan where cabbages and roses grow between the hot volcanic streams. Many seldom visited ancient temples occupy stunning positions high on the slopes of volcanos so a visit to these is a good way to see the panorama of volcanoes.
The many options include: Visits to Borobudur, the worlds largest Buddhist monument, Prambanan and a selection of the lesser known temples. Cycling around Solo, walking in the mountains, fields and spice groves. Volcanic activity permitting we can also visit the bubbling sulphur pools of Dieng. It is possible to combine this tour with Batik or Cooking courses in Yogya (see the relevant Special Tours).
Arts and Crafts
Yogya and Solo rival each other as the cultural centres of Java and are famous for their artistic achievements stimulated by their Sultan's Palaces e.g. Ramayana Ballet, Gamelan music, Shadow Puppets, Batik textiles, silver and leatherwork.
Fly into Yogyakarta for the royal dance and music performances and the craft workshops. Borobudur the great Buddhist monument and Prambanan its Hindu equivalent. Dieng Plateau where ancient temples are sited inside the caldera of an exploded volcano amongst the bubbling sulphur and mud pools. Bandungan for an early morning stroll up to another temple site which gives us spectacular panoramas of the volcanic peaks. Sangiran the archaeological site where "Java Man" was discovered. Solo, a quieter counterpart of Yogya built around two palaces. Excursions to Tawangmangu and other sites in the hills.
We can arrange many other itineraries in Sumatra and Java including the following National Parks: Meru Betiri, Mt. Bromo-Semeru, Ujung Kulon, Krakatau, Pangandaran, Way Kambas, Kerinci Seblat
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From the atlas Sulawesi looks like the droplets of a pancake left over when its large neighbours Borneo and New Guinea were formed. It was in fact created when continental drift caused areas from east and west to collide. It stands on the divide between Asia and Australasia not just geologically but in many other ways. Perhaps the most notable aspect of this is the unique wildlife - 98% of the mammals on the island are found nowhere else. The nineteenth century naturalist Alfred Wallace drew the "Wallace Line" which divides Asian and Australian flora and fauna right through the island. Although approximately the same area as Britain, the geography of the island has given it an inaccessible mountainous interior and an enormously long coastline. This has made seafaring an important part of life for the coastal people but left the people of the mountains undisturbed to continue their own distinctive cultures. The Makassarese and the Bugis were particularly active in the spice trade from the earliest times and Bugis pirates (the original "bogeymen") were feared all over the region. It was a Bugis captain in search of tin that founded Kuala Lumpur, the present capital of Malaysia. Although from the sixteenth century onwards, the Spanish, Por-tuguese and Dutch established themselves in coastal cities in an attempt to control the spice trade, it was not until well into this century that outside influence reached the interior. The Toraja of the central highlands have therefore been able to preserve their complex and very unusual culture intact to this day.
We arrange tailor made tours throughout Sulawesi and the rest of the region to suit your requirements. Prices in this area are reasonable and a privately arranged tour need cost no more than an equivalent group tour. We are very familiar with this region so if you would like information on anywhere not described here, please contact us (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
As an example of what is possible, a suggested itinerary in South Sulawesi is given below.
The principal city of Sulawesi used to be known as Makassar, the capital of the powerful Sultanate of Gowa which controlled the spice trade for hundreds of years with its large sailing fleet. Dozens of impressive Pinisi Schooners are still in use and can be seen in the city port. Traders from all over the world were drawn here by the spices and it was a cosmopolitan city even before the Dutch took control in 1688. Makassar became a household word when hair oil from here became popular with Victorian men, hence the anti-makassar cloths used to keep hair oil off chair backs.
A few relics of its chequered history are still visible in the modem city in the form of tombs of past heroes and the sixteenth century fort which houses the State Museum and the Conservatory of Dance and Music. Chinese merchants are still prominent in the town and there are several Chinese Temples dating from the eighteenth century close to the fort. Clara Bundt's private orchid collection is open to the public and you can see silk weaving at the Sutera Alam factory in the town.
Ujung Pandang boasts The Longest Restaurant in the World. In the evening the seafront is lined as far as the eye can see with hundreds of food stalls which the locals like to call the longest restaurant n the world. The town is also known for its Ikan Bakar (grilled fish) and other seafood dishes.
There are several beautiful islands only a short boat ride offshore where you can go swimming or snorkelling.
The short journey from Ujung Pandang to Sengkang takes us across the central mountain range from the land of the Makassarese to the land of the Bugis. The pass winds up through the jungle clad mountains and down through the grassy foothills onto the eastern plane. The impressive Bantimurung falls are on the western approach to the pass and are best known for the butterflies that congregate in the gorge below the plunge pool. These were first recorded by the Victorian naturalist Alfred Wallace when he was exploring Sulawesi for evidence to support his theories of evolution which influenced Darwin.
This Bugis town is situated on the edge of Lake Tempe which occupies the centre of the southern limb of Sulawesi. The lake covers an enormous area but this is not immediately apparent because much of it is covered by floating grass. The water level varies by up to five metres and when the level is down the fertile land revealed may be farmed by anyone who is prepared to risk their crops being inundated. The variation in rainfall is more pronounced from area to area in Sulawesi than from season to season so it is never certain when the lake will rise. A canoe ride on the lake offers a wonderful opportunity for bird watching and a chance to visit floating houses made of bamboo.
Silk. Production and Weaving
The Senkang district is one of the few places in Indonesia where silk is produced. The quantity of silk worms that can be supported is governed by the number of Mulberry bushes that can be grown in the suitable conditions of the nearby hills in order to feed the worms. Silk weaving is the main trade of the area and the click-clack of looms can be heard from under the traditional Buginese houses which are raised on stilts to provide a shady space beneath. About five thousand women produce large quantities of silk, mainly sarongs in traditional designs using warp ikat (selectively resist dyed threads) or metallic thread supplementary weft techniques. You can of course buy silk goods in some of the workshops or at the town market.
The Bugis were among the last of the major kingdoms to adopt Islam (the Muslim rulers of Makassar mounted several religious wars against the Bugis in the seventeenth century) but once converted they took to it enthusiastically. Senkang has a remarkable number of large mosques and if you climb the hill behind the town to watch the sun set over the lake you can listen to the competing calls to evening prayer from the town spread out below.
Water Birds and Giant Lizards
The rich waters of the lake support so many fish that the local fishermen can just scoop them out with nets. They have floating fishing villages which they tow out to the best sites in the middle of the lake. The abundant fish and rafts of floating grass provide perfect conditions for all kinds of water birds, particularly many types of heron, cormorant and fish eagle. Giant Monitor Lizards can also be seen sunning themselves on the banks of the river.
Accommodation and Cuisine
Whenever possible we stay with the very hospitable Bugis Princess made famous by Gavin Young's book In Search of Conrad.
We can arrange for a traditional royal meal to be prepared and she will normally join in afterwards and talk about life before and after independence. The royal houses were suppressed when Indonesia became a republic so she does not live in a palace but her accommodation is nevertheless very comfortable.
PALOPO & THE COAST
From Senkang to Tana Toraja we take the coast road in order to see the views from the cliffs and pass through the spice, cocoa and fruit groves. Palopo is a quiet little port on the east coast seldom visited except by occasional Pinsi Schooners. It occupies the only level area on this stretch of coast and the recently constructed pass up from here gives you some idea of how the central highlands managed to remain cut o from outside influence until 1905 even though the coast had been under colonial control since the sixteenth century. The dense jungle that barred the way has now largely been replaced by clove and cinnamon groves whose red tinged leaves colour the valley.
The Sadan Toraja occupy a large secluded valley in the central highlands surrounded by hills and mountains. The landscape of limestone formations, terraced valleys and wooded hills has an indefinable magical quality. The landscape and the pleasant climate would be enough in themselves to justify a visit but the complex and extraordinary culture of the Torajans is an even greater attraction. Their isolation allowed them to develop and maintain their unique customs undisturbed until the Dutch invasions early this century. Although the Dutch abolished slavery, head hunting, limited the excessive numbers of buffalo that were slaughtered at funerals and introduced Christianity they had little effect an the basic ancestor worshipping customs. Since Independence Christianity has been adopted by many Torajans, possibly to ward off the pressures of Islam which would ban pork eating and tuak palm wine drinking, but it seems to be only adjunct to traditional animist beliefs rather than a replacement. Some tombs now combine animist and Christian symbols but there still appears to be more investment in building and maintaining traditional spirit houses than in churches.
Every Toraja family still maintains a tongkonan ancestor house whether or not they actually live in it. Its significance is far greater than just that of a dwelling and even Toraja who have moved away to the city will have a tongkonan built or rebuilt which will then only be lived in by an aged relative. The spiritual and social significance of these houses explains the amount of effort that is put into the complex structure and elaborate decoration compared with the relatively small and dark living space.
The form of the houses and their equally elaborate rice barns expresses their beliefs about life (rice is a life force) and death (ancestor relics are kept in the roofspace) and these are closely linked to social status in the form of ancestral lineage and wealth, represented by rice and the opulence of past funerals. The horns of buffalo sacrificed at funerals are displayed on the front post of the house and the highest status houses have an effigy of a white buffalo head fixed to the gable showing that they could afford to slaughter the most valuable buffaloes. The houses and barns are aligned north south in rows because East and the rising sun is the direction of life and West, the setting sun, is the direction of death.
The Toraja cosmos is divided into the Under World, the Middle World of man and the Upper World of spirits. Their buildings are similarly divided into an undercroft used for animals and storage, a living area raised on heavy stilts with three levels to divide the girl's, boy's and parents' sleeping areas, and most importantly an enormously high curved roof with tilted gables that overhang so much that they have to be supported by massive posts at each end. The roof is so important because it represents the abode of the ancestor spirits and the gable where the heirlooms are hung is known as the face of the gods. The walls and posts are covered with carving and painting.
The most important event in Toraja life is death. Despite attempts by the Dutch and the missionaries to discourage families from bankrupting themselves on expensive funerals these still go on unabated because unless deceased are given fitting rites they are unable to become effective ancestor spirits to protect the family. They are also important for establishing social status by the extravagance of the event, the presentation of gifts and the settling of debts for previous ceremonies. It might take months or even many years to assemble the family and the necessary finances. In the meantime the person is not acknowledged as dead and is only described as "the sick one". The corpse is wrapped in shrouds with herbs and placed on a chair in the west (death) side of the house. Despite the warm and damp climate this does not seem to cause any problem to the occupants. A successful ceremony has as many guests as possible including strangers such as tourists, and lasts from 3 to 9 days. A tower for the corpse and platform for the family is constructed at the ceremonial site, surrounded by grandstands for the guests. These all have the elaborate form of Toraja houses and are left standing afterwards as a reminder of the glory of the event. Some of these temporary ceremonial complexes are so big that they look like an agricultural show ground. The corpse is carried on a bier that is also in the form of a house.
The ceremony itself is a festival of eating and drinking that can include traditional dancing, sports, spoken or sung eulogies to the dead and a Christian service. As many buffalo and pigs as the family can afford are slaughtered and consumed in the ensuing feast.
Rock Graves and Effigies
Family burial chambers are cut in to cliff faces and a balcony carved out where effigies of the dead or "tau tau" are placed keeping watch on the valley. The family then regularly holds a ceremony to renew the clothes of their ancestor effigies. These are impressive places and one has to marvel at the skills of carving the tombs and placing the corpses in them.
Traditional backstrap looms are still used by Toraja women. These have no frame and one end is attached to the house post while the other is strapped behind the user so that she can adjust the tension with tier body. The ikat technique of pre-dying threads in different coloured bands is used to create strong red, black and blue geometric patterns or traditional house designs.
Walking, trekking & rafting
The picturesque valleys and terraces provide pleasant day walks and the surrounding hills are good for longer treks. We can arrange trekking between villages in the hills across the remotest parts of the Toraja highlands, staying in local houses from one to six nights. The treks can be moderate or challenging, especially after the rains but it is an excellent way of meeting the local people and understanding their rural lifestyle.
We can also arrange white water rafting for several days given enough notice, either as an option during a tour or as an extension.
Torajan food is very distinctive because it is mostly black! This is caused by the use of a potato like tree fruit, not seen elsewhere, which has a skin that when dried turns black. This is particularly appropriate for the funeral ritual feasts and fortunately tastes better than it looks. A particular ceremonial food speciality consists of buffalo or pork mixed with rice, vegetables and herbs cooked slowly inside bamboo tubes over the embers, of a fire. Ask for ayam papilon.
We normally base ourselves in Rantepao (except for trekking options) because it is well placed in the centre of the area. The facilities are comfortable and the rooms have ensuite bathrooms. Upgrades to the Novotel or similar are possible.
LAKE POSO (Pendolo/Tentena)
A long but scenic drive through forested highlands takes us to Lake Poso, the largest lake in Sulawesi. Pendolo is a small fishing village on the shore of Lake Poso. It makes a pleasant stay for a night on the way to the larger town of Tentena. The boat journey across Lake Poso to Tentena is a wonderfully local event. The boat journey take about 3 hours and follows an old trade route from Palu to Toraja. A dominant feature of the town is the 210m bridge which makes for atmospheric sunset photographs. Be sure to try the local delicacy of fried eel .
Walks and Excursions
A short walk from Tentena town takes us to caves that hold old coffins and human skulls. Although it seems a little staged it still has an eerie atmosphere. The Pamona Cave is further on and is a series of caves running deep into the limestone hills.
Saloupa Waterfall is a series of clear turquoise rockpools cascading into a stream. After a bumpy half hour bemo ride it is about a 1 hour walk to the base of the falls.
It is also possible to charter a boat to visit the Bancea Orchid Reserve on the west side of the lake
There is not as much choice of accommodation in this region. The range is from simple to moderate. We use comfortable rooms, some with excellent views over the lake.
LORE LINDU NATIONAL PARK
This little visited National Park between Palu and Tentena is known for its megaliths: huge stone structures, scattered about the Bada and Napau valleys. The stones are carved with human-like figures, animals and as urns. Archaeologists are still unsure of their origins but suggest they are over 1000 years old. As well as the megaliths, the park offers a number of endemic species, especially birds. It is home to the very rare Maleo bird. This park is an excellent place for bird-watchers.
Access to the National Park is from either Tentena to Gintu or Palu to Gimpu. It is possible to see the megaliths from Gintu and return to Tentena but most people opt to do the 6 day trek to Gimpu and then continue to Palu. This may be partly because the 160 km journey from Tentena to Gintu is on a very bad road and can take anywhere from 8 hours to 2 days. The road is impassable in the wet season, from October to March.
In the villages of Gintu and Gimpu there are small losmen, simple guesthouses. Whilst trekking full camping equipment will be provided.
PALU/ DONGALLA (Tanjung Karang)
For those not wishing to visit the Lore Lindu National Park, we take the road north to Poso (approx. 2 hours) and then continue along the coastal road to Palu. The whole journey takes about 8 hours (more in the wet season). Palu is the capital of Central Sulawesi and the public buildings spread out along the main roads into town. There is not much of interest to see in Palu so we drive straight on to Dongalla; a fishing village 34 km from Palu. From here it is a short drive around the point to our destination: Tanjung Karang. The clear waters offer excellent snorkelling and very good diving. There is a white-sand beach which is popular with the locals for volleyball.
We stay at a lovely, small resort right on the beach. The hilltop bungalows overlook the sands and sea below. They have private facilities and a balcony so that you can enjoy the view. All meals are served at a simple beach-side restaurant. Diving is offered by an experienced team with a PADI divemaster.
The Togian islands are nestled between the central and northern arms of Sulawesi. The are in the early stages of tourist development and facilities are simple and travel to the islands involves long sea transfers. However once there you can enjoy pristine beaches and excellent snorkelling. Diving is also possible.
MANADO (Bunaken Island National Marine Park)
Manado is the biggest city in northern Sulawesi. It has a convenient connection to Singapore as well as Denpasar and Jakarta. The city itself seems to come alive at night with late-night shopping and nightlife. During the day it is congested with traffic and does not offer much to see or visit. There is a small museum and a Chinese Temple in the city centre and the harbour is still active, although the port of Bitung is the main one for northern Sulawesi. Outside the town there are many interesting places to visit including the world renowned diving at Bunaken National Park.
As you rise above Manado there are impressive views of the city and the sea beyond . The Minhasans are the highland people of northern Sulawesi. Today they are Christians but their animist roots are evident in the Taman Purbakala Waruga- a cemetery containing 144 megalith sarcophagi dating back to the 10th century. These were used as family tombs and some have elaborate carvings showing the role of the family or depicting characters from the 17th century..
Watu Pinabetengan is a megalithic stone of the ancestors of Minahasa, its surface is covered with crude, mysterious drawings and scripts which have never been deciphered. According to Minahasa history, this is the place where the ancestors first divided up the land among the people (Watu Pinabetengan means "The stone of discussion about the division"). The ruling was made in order to ensure a peaceful and harmonious life. It is located in Tompaso, about 45 km from Manado.
About 36 Km southwest of Manado is Lake Tondano. The drive to Tondano passes through picturesque villages and clove plantations. Situated right on the edge of the lake is the Remboken Tourist site, an ideal place for water skiing, fishing, and boating. Bungalows, hot water swimming pool and restaurants are available.
Volcanoes Lokon And Mahawu
Volcanos Lokon (1.580 m asl) and Mahawu (1.311m), both have crater lakes of considerable beauty. Lokon is usually considered to be the more beautiful of the two and casual walk should is rewarded with excellent views. The steaming crater lies 600 m below the peak. The lake is about 60 m peak, crusted with yellow sulfur.
Bunaken Island National Marine Park
This park which is over 75 000 hectares, lies just 8 km ( 15 minutes) off shore from the mainland. There are 5 islands, the largest being Bunaken which offers simple accommodation. Although the islands are surrounded by mangrove and white-sand beaches, the real attractions are under the water. There are over 20 dive sites including several big drop-offs, walls and small caves. Night dives are also arranged. Snorkelling is also excellent, particularly off Siladen Island. Whilst swimming amongst the large schools of smaller fish you may be lucky enough to spot barracuda, killer whales, manta rays or hawksbill turtles. The giant clams, enormous lettuce corals and many other corals make this park a definite highlight for divers or snorkellers.
N.B We offer diving all year round however in the wet season; November to March it may be necessary to dive off Lembeh island which is more sheltered.
Accommodation ranges from the modern Novotel in the centre of Manado to the Dive Resorts on the coast. We can offer comfortable bungalows with private facilities overlooking the islands of Bunaken.
Lembeh Island is off the east coast about 1 hour from Manado, off shore from Bitung. It is set in a very beautiful bay. There are over 20 dives ssites in this area but they have not been explored as well as Bunaken. There are large corals and many spectacular and rare fish but you are less likely to see the large fish mentioned above.
Accommodation: It is possible to dive at Lembeh from any of the Manado Diver Resorts or hotels however there is also 1 resort in a secluded bay which overlooks Lembeh. The Kungkungan Resort is a luxurious, small resort of 14 individual bungalows (expanding to 22), built in a tradional style using traditional methods. The coconut palms that were cut down to clear the site have been tastefully incorporated into the structure of the bungalows. The restaurant and rooms have a beautiful outlook over the bay. The diving is by conducted by fully qualified PADI divemasters and the equipment is excellent.
Tangkoko Batu Angus National Park
Approximately 2.5 hours from Manado on a fairly rough track at time lies the small but interesting Tangkoko National Park. On an overnight excursion to the park it is likely that you will see the tarsier, black-crested macaques and perhaps hornbills and kingfishers. Although there is a long list of animals endemic to Sulawesi reported to be in the park such as anoa (dwarf buffalo), babi rusa (pig deer) and the maleo bird, these are rare and more difficult to spot. The tarsier, a very cute possum-like animal is well worth looking for. With their big eyes ( they are nocturnal) and timid expression they leap from tree to tree. The macques on the other hand need to be regarded with some caution as they move in mobs of up to 50 and are very protective of each other. The red-knobbed hornbill may also be sighted. This impressive bird can be tracked by its distinctive call. After a walk through the rainforest you may like to swim or snorkel off the black sand beach.
There are 4 simple guesthouses in the village of Batuputih, near the entrance of thhe park. We stay in simple but comfortable rooms with fan and coldwater shower. The food prepared at the guesthouse is freshly cooked using local produce.
Dumoga Bone National Park
Located on the border between two districts, approximately 260 km from Manado, this park covers Dumoga in Bolaang Mongondow and Bone in Gorontalo. Its mountains and hills covered by dense forests and vegetation make it an ideal reserve of rare and specific animal species like maleo birds, anoas, hornbills, wild pigs tarsius spectrums and fruit bats.
This National Park has several cottages and small restaurants nearby.
SOUTHERN ADVENTURE: 15 days including a 3 day trek, Tanah Toraja and finishing at the idyllic beaches of Dongalla.
DAY 1, Ujung Pandang
Arrive Ujung Pandang. Transfer to your hotel. Free time to explore this port city. Overnight Marina Inn Ujung Pandang.
DAY 2 Senkang (via Bantimurung)
Drive across the hills (via Bantimurung) to Senkang. Arrive in time to go out on the lake before sunset to see the abundant wildfowl and floating fishing villages. Senkang is also silk weaving town and you can see the looms in use in the shade under the houses. Night Apada Homestay (Breakfast & Dinner).
DAY 3, Mamasa (Torajan Highlands)
You can visit the lake again in the morning if you wish before driving to Mamasa. Night Mantana Lodge in Mamasa (Breakfast). Clean, friendly but simple guesthouse overlooking the valley in Mamasa.
DAY 4, Mamasa
A free day in Mamasa. We can arrange a full day walk to the weaving villages in the beautiful scenery of the Mamasa valley. Night Mamasa (B).
DAYS 5,6 & 7 , trek
Three day trek to Rantepao from Mamasa.
Once you leave the jeep track you will be walking on foot trails which are the only access to the remote villages of this region. You will cross the ridge dividing the Sadaan Toraja from the less visited Mamasa Toraja regions and will notice the gradual transition in the style of the traditional houses. You will pass through cloud forest on the high ground and verdant valleys secluded from the rest of the world. You will be able to experience rural life and perhaps see traditional crafts such as weaving. The walking is sometimes steep but the paths are the main thoroughfares for local people so they are generally in good condition. Accommodation on the trek is arranged by your guide in simple local houses and all meals are provided while on the trek.
HOTEL IN TANAH TORAJA Hotel Indra II: In the centre of this small town with comfortable rooms around a garden court and a restaurant overhanging the river. (Breakfast)
DAY 8, Rantepao
Walking tours of the villages and rock-cut tombs. The itinerary in this area will depend upon whether there are any festivals taking place. Night Indra II, Rantepao (B).
DAY 9, Pendolo
Drive from Rantepao to Pendolo. The drive takes you down through spice plantations to the coast then up again through rainforest to the central highlands. Night Pendolo in simple guest house. (B)
DAY 10, Tentena
Take the local ferry across Lake Poso from Pendolo to Tentena (approx 3 hours). Night Siury Cottages, a simple guest house on a beach on the north-west side of the lake (B).
DAY 11, Tentena
Free day on Lake Poso. This is a highland lake at about 600m above sea level and one of the largest in Indonesia. Like most of the wildlife in Sulawesi a high proportion of the aquatic life is endemic to the lake. You can spend the day walking to sandy lake beaches, waterfalls, caves and villages or take a boat along the lake to the orchid gardens. Night Siury Cottages (B).
DAY 12, Dongalla
Drive from Tentena to Dongalla. This is a full days drive because although the road is paved there are often delays due to waiting for minor landslips to be cleared. It is a scenic journey down from the highlands and then along the coast. Night Prince John Dive Resort. This is a pleasant place to relax, with simple but comfortable cottages overlooking the bay and snorkelling straight off the white sand beach. This area has the lowest rainfall in Sulawesi (600mm per annum) so it is a good place to be during the wet season. Diving can be arranged direct with the Dive Resort at around £40 per day- diving not included in price. (B, D)
DAY 13 & 14, Dongalla
Diving/snorkelling in Dongalla (B, L, D)
DAY 15, Ujung Pandang
Transfer to Palu airport for flight BO492 departs Palu 11.20 arrives Ujung Pandang 12.15. Connect with your international flight (B)
Possible extensions: Bali, Java or the orangutans of Kalimantan.
SOUTH SULAWESI HIGHLIGHTS: 7 days, Ujung Pandang, Sengkang and Tanah Toraja
DAY 01: ARRIVE UJUNG PANDANG
Arrive Ujung Pandang. Met at airport and transfer to your hotel. Free day in Ujung Pandang to explore the town, fort or snorkelling can be arranged by the hotel on request. (B)
DAY 02: SENGKANG
Drive to Sengkang visiting Bantimurung Waterfall. Overnight in A Pada Homestay, Air-conditioned rooms with en-suite facilities. Boat on Lake Tempe (waterfowl). Silk weaving in village. (B)
DAY 03: RANTEPAO
Drive to Tanah Toraja via Palopo on the east coast through spice plantations and hills to Rantepao. Approximately 6-7 hours. Afternoon free to relax and explore the town. (B)
DAYS 04 & 05: TANAH TORAJA
Two full days to visit the religious and cultural sights of the area including villages with traditional architecture, cave and rock tombs. You may even be able to witness the spectacular funeral ceremony. (B)
DAY 06: UJUNG PANDANG
Drive from Tanah Toraja back to Ujung Pandang via Pare Pare, about 8 hours with stops for coffee and lunch. (B)
Transfer to the airport.
NORTH SULAWESI: Rainforest, Volcano & Sea Garden, 6 days
DAY 01: ARRIVE MANADO - TANGKOKO
Arrive Manado. Met and transferred by A/C car to Tangkoko National Park. Arrive in Batuputih Village and check in to the cottage. Evening about 5 PM start trekking to Tangkoko National Park to see the smallest monkey on the world "Tarsius Spectrum", a delightful animal that leaps from tree to tree. Dinner and overnight at simple cottage or similar in Batuputih village (D)
DAY 02: FULL DAY TANGKOKO NATIONAL PARK
After breakfast explore Tangkoko National Park. In the afternoon return to Cottage for lunch. Late afternoon free program (relax on black sandy beach or explore local fisherman village). Dinner and overnight at cottage (B,L,D)
DAY 03: TANGKOKO NATIONAL PARK - TOMOHON
After breakfast, travel to highland City of Tomohon passing through villages and cloves, nutmeg plantantions. Along the way visit the "Waruga" an ancient tomb of Minahasa. Lunch at a local restaurant. Dinner and overnight at cottage in Tomohon (B,L,D)
DAY 04: TOMOHON - TREKKING MOUNT LOKON - BUNAKEN ISLAND
Early morning after breakfast, short transfer by car to Kakaskasen village. On arrival at Kakaskasen village start trekking to crater of Mount Lokon, about 2 - 3 hours. Return to Kakaskasen village for lunch. After lunch continue to visit Woloan village to see the traditional houses of Minahasa. Continue to Manado. Overnight at a resort on the coast. (B,L)
DAY 05: HALF - DAY BUNAKEN ISLAND - MANADO
Optional diving or snorkelling excursion. Overnight Manado.
DAY 06: HOTEL - AIRPORT
Transfer to the airport for your flight to next destination (B)
Possible Extension: This tour can be extended to a 10 day itinerary including an overnight trek to Mt Soputan and a visit to Lake Tondano or for the more adventurous explore the Dumoga Bone National Park. Or combine this with the Southern Highlights Tour.
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Although Sumba is a substantial island 300 km long it receives very few visitors except during the annual horseback fighting festivals. Fortunately there are enough good hotels and one well made road which makes it possible to reach the main areas of interest in reasonable comfort. The dry and barren east is reminiscent of Africa and is sparsely populated with villages which still make the famous Hinggi ikat textiles using natural materials. The west is much greener with grasslands where Sumbanese horses are reared. The original megalithic animist society still thrives here. Most of the indigenous people live in their original villages which consist of communal houses with high pointed thatched roofs set in a circle on the top of rock outcrops around ritual sites and the megalithic tombs of their ancestors.
Fly into Waingapu, visit the villages of east Sumba famous for their ikat textiles. Drive 175 km across the hills to Waikabubak, see the traditional villages of West Sumba and, with luck, an animist ceremony. Fly out of Tamboloka on the north coast. For those who don't mind simple accommodation we can arrange to spend some time on remote west coast where there are endless white sand beaches and many traditional villages.
We also arrange tours in the other islands of the archipelago such as Flores, Lombok, The Moluccas, Irian Jaya, Kalimantan, Borneo, New Guinea, as well as Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Yunnan, Cambodia.
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|MALAYSIA, SINGAPORE & SOUTHERN
Although the Peninsula is divided politically into Southern Thailand, East Malaysia and Singapore, geographically it covers the whole area south of the narrow neck of land between the China Sea and the Indian Ocean called the Isthmus of Kra where Burma and Thailand meet. We have itineraries to cover the whole of this area as well as Malaysian Borneo.
The east coast of the Peninsula is the only part of the Archipelago that is significantly affected by the monsoons of Indo-China, so which route is appropriate depends on the time of year. We also take advantage of the rail network from Singapore to Bangkok to provide tours based on rail journeys. The proximity of Sumatra and Borneo means that combining a tour with these is convenient and provides an excellent contrast. Altogether this means that our itineraries can be very varied so we only provide a description of some of the destinations here. Please ask for details.
SINGAPORE occupies the tip of the peninsula and although it is an island it is connected by a causeway which allows us to start rail journeys here. Since the time of Raffles it has been the trading centre of the entire region. It is a highly developed modern city state totally unlike the rest of the archipelago. It is dedicated to commerce in all its forms and is a shoppers paradise.
MALACCA is Malaysia's most historic city because for centuries before the British moved all trade to Singapore it was they key port controlling all trade between the East and the West. it has a cosmopolitan character with Chinese, Portuguese, Arab, Dutch, Indian, British and Malay influences. Because its power was removed in the nineteenth century, the buildings and unique mixed culture of its former glorious days have remained untouched.
KUALA LUMPUR is one of the few Asian cities that has managed to combine impressive modern development with its British colonial charm and original Malay, Chinese and Indian culture. It has some excellent bird parks, orchid gardens, museums and street life.
TAMAN NEGARA (National Park) covers a large area of ancient rainforest in the centre of the Peninsula. Wildlife, forest people, river safaris, trekking, swimming and a general jungle experience.
KOTA BAHRU is a town on the north east coast where the original Malay culture, arts and crafts are still strongest. We reach it either by the jungle train through the central valleys or via the villages of the east coast. In the dry season we extend the itinerary to the white sand beaches of the Perhentian Islands.
PENANG is an island just off the north west coast and was the stepping off point for much of the Chinese and British settlement of Malaya. It retains may of these influences making it a fascinating places to visit.
SOUTHERN THAILAND is well known for its tropical paradise beaches. We go to some of the less frequented beaches but there is also much to see besides the sea. We go to out of the way lakes teeming with waterbirds among the lilies, jungle National Parks and exotic Buddhist temples.
SARAWAK was until about forty years ago the private domain of the self styled "White Rajas". Kuching, their capital still remains a unique and interesting city with the palace and public buildings which they erected to create the trappings of a city in the middle of the jungle. Nearby is Semmengoh Orangutan Sanctuary and Bako National Park accessible only by boat. It has varied habitats from the deserted white sand beaches, through the mangroves which are home to Proboscis Monkeys, giant lizards, mud skippers and luminous fungi and up to the dry plateau. Upriver in the interior there are Dayak villages where you can stay in the Longhouses. Niah National Park has a giant cave which was inhabited by prehistoric man and the archaeological dig where their remains were discovered can be seen. Swift's nest for bird nest soup have been collected from these caves for many centuries and traded with China. The collectors work from precarious bamboo poles hundreds of feet up on the roof of the cave. Mulu National Park is deep in the interior and has varied habitats from jungle to high peaks. This gives it an amazing range of flora and it also has impressive geological formations such as the limestone Pinnacles and the worlds biggest cave system. some of the beautiful stalactite formations are accessible and illuminated or the adventurous can explore further with a guide. The evening exodus of clouds of millions of bats is a spectacle to remember.
SABAH was formerly British North Borneo. Its main feature is Mt. Kinabalu, at 4101m the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. Its range of habitats from alpine rock faces through every stage down to the rainforest have given it an amazing diversity of species including half the worlds families of flowering plants such as thousands of types of orchid and pitcher plant. For the moderately fit the two day walk to the top takes you through all these zones or alternatively you can explore the lower jungle with a Park guide including a birds eye view from the tree canopy walkway at Poring Hot Springs. The only railway in Borneo is a picturesque mountain line to Tenom where thousands of swifts roost in the main street. Nearby there is an Orchid Centre and a Rafflesia Reserve (the world's biggest flower). Off the coast you can snorkel from the coral islands of the T.A.R. Marine Park. From Sandakan you can visit Sepilok Orangutan Station, Turtle Island Reserve where Giant Turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, and Kinabatangan River, home of Proboscis Monkeys, Hornbills and hundreds of other bird species.
KALIMANTAN BORNEO WITH MEMBERS OF THE INDONESIAN ORANGUTAN FOUNDATION (See Indonesia page for other destinations in Kalimantan)
The Indonesian Orangutan Foundation is run by Indonesians who have been involved in the rehabilitation of orangutans back into the wild after they have been rescued from captivity. They work with schools and local people to spread awareness of the value of conservation generally and caring for orangutans in particular. To spread awareness amongst visitors to Indonesia of the work for endangered orangutans and subsidise their voluntary work, their members run some very special tours to the remote Rehabilitation Station and jungle in Central Kalimantan. The naturalists of I.O.F. are known personally by the orangutans and those still being retrained and living around the camp will come to greet them, and you. The rehabilitated adults are encouraged to stay in the jungle and fend for themselves but orangutans seem to like human company and the ones still in the retraining process are called for supplementary feeding and observation every day when they interact with the Park Rangers who care for them. The young orphans who cannot yet care for themselves have to be taught how to climb and eat leaves. They are particularly friendly at this stage and quite happy to be held. Because Tanjung Puting Reserve is so remote it receives very few visitors so a visit here in the company of experts from the Indonesian Orangutan Foundation is a very personal experience.
Part of the work involves observation of behaviour in the wild so you will have the opportunity to get out into the jungle. A remarkable and touching phenomenon in this Reserve is that wild mothers will come to the Camp (where the young rehabilitants roam free) to live with them for a while until they adopt an orphan by mutual agreement. Members of the I.O.F are both Indonesian and English so all the people who conduct the tours speak both languages. Of course they also know all about the rainforest and the other animals that inhabit it such as proboscis monkeys (we also visit the Proboscis Monkey Research Project), gibbons, gharvials and hundreds of birds such as hornbills, herons and kites.
We will arrange tailor made tours at any time to suit you which can also be combined with any of our other tours. These normally run for between 4 and 10 days which include staying on the Sekonyer river in a private African Queen style river boat with you own boatman, cook and naturalist guide, visiting the two Orangutan Stations and the Proboscis Monkey Research Station. Natural tannins darken the pure river water and provide beautiful reflections. You can either spend the nights on the boat surrounded only by the magical jungle sounds or in the comfortable lodge or a combination of the two. You can also include time upriver staying in Dayak houses where they will welcome you with Hornbill dances and show you their way of life. Kayaking river trips can also be arranged.
These and any of the other Archipelago Journeys are available as Tailor Made itineraries.
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THE FOLLOWING DOSSIERS ARE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST*
*Special departures with Arc Leaders * Special Interest Tours Worldwide *Scheduled Departure Tours Worldwide
* Sumatra *Java *Bali *Sulawesi * Borneo * Malay Peninsula & Singapore *Pre-departure Information for SE Asia *Special Tours in Indonesia *India * Sri Lanka * Nepal *Bhutan & Sikkim *Ghana * Ethiopia * Tanzania & East Africa * Namibia & Southern Africa * Thailand & Yunnan *Laos,*Cambodia, * Vietnam, *New Guinea * Australia *Peru *Ecuador & The Galapagos *Venezuela *Central & South America Generally *Belize *Canada/Alaska/Arctic * Booking Form & Conditions *Future Arc Newsletters
Alternatively just tell us what you are interested in and we will let you know what we can offer. Our speciality is tailoring tours to our clients specific requirements.
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|SOUTHEAST ASIA & INDOCHINA
INDIA & THE HIMALAYAS
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Arc Journeys Destinations
This is a brief description of the regions we cover, go to the MAIN INDEX for links to Dossiers on each destination.
South East Asia
Visit ancient temples and traditional villages, relax in exclusive hideaways, witness colourful festivals, learn about textiles, local cooking or music and dance, cruise jungle rivers, meet orangutans or trek the jungles and volcanoes .... We are acknowledged experts on this region; this is what the Indonesia, Malaysia & Singapore Handbook says about us: "Arc Journeys have excellent cultural and natural tours run by people who understand and care for the country, its people and environment."
Meet the koalas & 'roos, visit the wineries, stroll deserted beaches, dive The Reef, climb The Rock, experience the open spaces and untouched wilderness. Escape the crowds. Accommodated self-drive, treks, 4WD tours, gourmet cycle tours...indulge in the Aussie way.
India and The Himalayas
Walk through small villages among 8000m peaks, receive blessings from a Buddhist Lama, stay in magnificent palaces, search for rhino and tiger. Himalayan treks, rail journeys, camel & horse safaris, palace hotels, houseboats or homestays...
Meet the curious lemurs, look out for the Big 5, climb Kilimanjaro, visit villages where time has stood still. Luxury lodges or camping expeditions, Self-drive or escorted 4WD safaris, horseback safaris, rail journeys, treks, fly- in tours ......
Discover the mysteries of the Incas, explore colonial towns and Indian markets, hear the music and festivals, trek the Andes, take great train journeys, cruise the Amazon and the Galapagos, meet blue footed boobies and giant turtles. Small group tours and tailormade itineraries.
Dog sledding, polar bears, birds & whalewatching, cruise Alaska, Greenland or rivers, touch an iceberg, see the Northern Lights or midnight sun, experience the wilderness of the Arctic. Small group tours and tailormade itineraries.
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David Halford Travel 102 Stanley Rd Cambridge CB5 8LB UK
UK Tel 0 207 681 3175 Fax +44 207 6813175
Australia Tel & Fax +61 3 9923 6158
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