Some 250km north of Makassar, a steep wall of mountains marks the limits of Bugis territory and the start of Tanah Toraja’s highlands, a beautiful spread of hills and valleys where sleek buffalo wallow in lush green paddy fields. With easy access and one of Indonesia’s most confident and vivid cultures, Tanah Toraja is planted firmly on the agenda of every visitor to Sulawesi. Tour groups tend to concentrate on key sites, so it’s not hard to find more secluded corners.

Tanah Toraja’s main town, at least as far as tourists are concerned, is Rantepao, 18km north of the regional capital, Makale. It’s a popular base for travellers, most of whom descend for the major festival season between July and September. Expect hot days and cool nights; there is a “dry” season between April and October, but this is relative only to the amount of rain at other times, so bring non-slip walking boots and rainwear.

Tanah Toraja is known as Tator in the local idiom, and you should look for this on transport timetables. There are buses to Rantepao from points all over Sulawesi, including night buses from Makassar.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Indonesia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you'd rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here are th…

21 Dec 2016 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
Bali travel tips: 10 things to know before you go

Bali travel tips: 10 things to know before you go

With its coral-speckled beaches, luscious green rice terraces and blissful azure seas, Bali has long been a haven for surfers, sun worshippers and yoga junkies …

21 Sep 2016 • Henry Fry insert_drive_file Article
Discover Indonesia: our film of the week

Discover Indonesia: our film of the week

Searching for that daily dose of travel inspiration? Look no further, but don’t be surprised if your feet start to itch for Indonesia. This archipelago nat…

16 Dec 2015 • Colt St. George videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month