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ISLANDS TO EXPLORE - SULAWESI

About the Island

Sulawesi (formerly Celebes) is one of the main islands of Indonesia, and the 11th largest island in the world. With four spindly arms spinning outward, Sulawesi’s spidery shape is easily recognisable. It is one of the four Greater Sunda Islands and situated between Borneo and the Maluku Islands.

Sulawesi comprises four peninsulas: the northern Minahaha Peninsula; the East Peninsula; the South Peninsula; and the South east Peninsula. Three gulfs separate these peninsulas: the Gulf of Tomini between northern Minahahas peninsula and East Peninsula; the Tolo Gulf between East and Southeast Peninsula; and the Bone Gulf between the South and the Southeast Peninsula. The Strait of Makassar runs along the western side of the island and separates the island from Borneo.

The settlement of South Sulawesi by modern humans is dated to c.30,000 BC. The first Europeans to visit the island were the Portuguese in 1525 to be later followed by the Dutch less than a century later. The English arrived thereafter who established a factory in Makassar.

This enormous island has much to offer the visitor from extraordinary unique cultures, to an under-explored mountainous hinterland, and several truly world class diving spots.

What to See & Do

There are many natural wonders to behold in Sulawesi. Land based activities focus on rain forest hiking in Tangkoko Nature Reserve (home to the largest concentration of black crested macaques and he world’s smallest primate, the tarsier) and Dumoga Bone National Park (home to the fabled babirusa pig deer), along with viewing scenic waterfalls, volcano climbing and river rafting and even golf! Exploring the Tomohon/Tondano highlands area, rice paddies, coconut plantations and flower gardens are also available.

Tana Toraja is spellbinding, home to a proud people hemmed in my magnificent mountains on all side. The scenery of volcanos and rice fields is simply awe inspiring. The Toraja’s elaborate death rituals have to be seen to be believed. You have to pinch yourself that we live in the 21st century and these traditions are still going strong. Cave graves, tau tau (carved wooden effigies of the dead), a buffalo cult, houses shaped like boats and the dead treated like the living. A visit to Sulawesi is truly out of this world.

The Beauty of Nature & Wildlife

Sulawesi is full of natural attractions. The leading national parks see few visitors and include such diverse draws as ancient megaliths in Lore Lindu and bug-eyed tarsiers in Tangkoko. However it is the waters of Sulawesi that harbour its real treasures.

What Its Waters Offer

Offshore, Sulawesi offers some of the best diving and snorkelling in Indonesia, if not the world. Pulau Bunaken and the Lembeh Strait take top billing, but for those prepared to venture off the trail, there are the beautiful laid back beaches of the Togean Islands in Central Sulawesi and the incredible Wakatobi Marine National Park in the far southeast. World class coral gardens, underwater volcanoes, the sunken city of the Sangihe Islands, World War 2 shipwrecks are all here to be explored….what are you waiting for?

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