28-Dec-2004 -- 03 South / 120 East
The First Confluence Visit on the Island of Sulawesi, Indonesia
The team: Joerg Lieberei (Germany), Kathrin Mengel (Germany) and Mr. Amir our guide and driver (Indonesia)
After having successfully visited the only confluence on the island of Sumba in September 2004, we decided to do some more confluence pioneering work on the Island of Sulawesi. Although many confluences are located on that huge island – some of them in areas that can easily be approached by car – nobody had yet attempted a visit.
03 South / 120 East lies in the mountains of South Sulawesi, the land of the Toraja people, famous for their traditional burial ceremonies, grave sites and impressive architecture of houses and rice barns. This area is a well developed tourism destination in Indonesia and especially in the period between June to September thousand of tourists visit Tanah Toraja to witness the ancient culture and traditions.
My spouse and me decided to spend our short Christmas vacation in Tanah Toraja. Knowing that there is a confluence located near to the town of Rantepao, we wanted to combine our vacation with a visit to that confluence. We only had a 1:1.000.000 tourist map of the area, so we had to find an access road which would bring us close to the confluence on a trial and error basis. Actually the second road that we tried turned out to be an appropriate access way and it brought us 1.300 metres close to the confluence. From there we had to venture out on foot. However, we could see that it would not be an easy walk, because the point was located in the middle of undulating rice terraces and there were no walkways accept the small dams of the irrigated fields. In addition we saw rain clouds moving in from the east, and we would certainly get very wet in the near future. Also it was already 03:00 pm and we would have to be back to the car before darkness.
Nevertheless, we decided to make a first attempt because 1.300 metres does not sound so far. Following our compass and GPS readings we zig-zagged along the rice fields, climbed the terraces, crossed ravines and little streams. Walking was slippery and because we had to make so many detours because of the topography and the layout of the rice fields we probably walked more than three kilometres to get to the confluence. Unfortunately, the confluence lies in a ravine between the rice terraces just under a small bamboo tree. So the photos of the area do not really represent the nice views which we had approaching the point. We did not take a lot of time to celebrate because rain was approaching quickly, and the thick dark clouds also contributed negatively to the quality of the photos. Just after we started our return trip, heavy rain started. Visibility was below 100 metres. We than realised that we had not taken a GPS waypoint of the place of our car, so our way back depended largely on guesswork. Zig-zagging through the fields again, now the ravines and streams had become little whitewater rivers, yet still possible to cross. Completely wet but happy, we walked back for about one hour and eventually arrived back at the car around 5:30 pm. The drive back to Rantepao took us another hour. There we celebrated our successful visit with a treat of traditional food - chicken cooked in bamboo and water buffalo a la Toraja.
Since the photos of the confluence are not really nice, we have added some photos of the attractions nearby.
How to get there:
Tanah Toraja is a remote area. Access is via the main entry point to Sulawesi - the provincial capital Makassar. Transport by car or bus to Rantepao in Tanah Torja takes at least seven hours. Hotels are available in various qualities. From Rantepao take the road to the east to the town of Palopo. After approximately 15 kilometres turn right between Langi and Barana just after the bridge. Follow the road to the village of Nanggala, hamlet Rura. Park the car near Rura.
If you need a driver and guide call Mr. Amir in Makassar: 0812 410 2647