Getting there and away
Ampana's long-rumoured airport is yet to reach operating status and while we didn't bother riding out to the site to check progress, given one local told us they were still buying the land while another said they had just finished the terminal, we guess it still has a way to go. Perhaps 2014?
Ampana is your gateway into Central and Southern Sulawesi. Sample bus destinations from Ampana include:
Luwuk: Departs daily at 21:00, taking seven hours and costing 110,000 rupiah.
Makassar: Departs daily at 23:00, taking roughly 30 hours and costing 280,000 rupiah. This bus goes via Tentena, Pendolo and Palopo. If you're planning on doing this in one hit, we'd recommend considering exiting to Gorontalo and flying to Makassar as the airfare can be quite affordable if booked sufficiently in advance.
Palu: Departs daily at 10:00 and 17:00, taking nine hours and costing 120,000 rupiah.
Poso: Departs daily at 10:00 and 17:00, taking four hours and costing 70,000 rupiah.
Private drivers can also be arranged for those who prefer to get a Kijang for a run to Rantepao -- ask at your guesthouse for details or recommendations for a good driver.
The Puspita Sari departs Ampana on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, stopping at Wakai, Katupat and Malenge. It departs Ampana at 10:00, arriving at Wakai at 15:00, Katupat at 16:30 and Malenge at 18:00, with a half-hour (or so) stop at each port.
In the reverse direction, it departs from Malenge on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, leaving Malenge at 06:00, Katupat at 07:30 and Wakai at 10:00 for a final arrival in Ampana at 15:00. The trip from Malenge costs 50,000 rupiah.
There is also a twice-weekly service from Ampana to Dolong, leaving Ampana on Tuesday and Friday at 21:00 and arriving at Dolong the next morning at 07:00. In the reverse direction, the boat leaves Dolong on Sunday and Thursday at 14:00 and arriving in Ampana at 23:00. The Dolong service is really only practical for those headed to Sifa Cottage or Walea Dive Resort; the Puspita Sari is more frequent and better timed.
From this small village a 10-minute ojek ride to the east of Ampana, regular public ferries run to Bomba at the western tip of the Togeans. This is convenient only really if you are staying at Poya Lisa or Island Retreat, as otherwise you'll have to then charter an outrigger for the three-hour ride to Wakai (and onwards to your eventual destination).
According to the timetable, these boats depart Wakai on Sunday, Tuesday and Friday at 09:00 and arrive in Bomba at 12:00; in the reverse direction, they leave Bomba on Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 09:00, arriving in Ampana at 12:00. However, in practice, we found this service (in July and August, at least) to run daily, with sometimes three or four boats leaving each day (all around the same time). Ask around in Ampana or at your guesthouse in the Togeans for the latest information in this regard; don't rely on them being daily if you're planning from afar. The fare is 25,000 rupiah, though boats can also be chartered to do this run -- we were offered a boat in Labuhan (the small village outside Ampana) for 250,000 rupiah.
Bear in mind that the service to and from Labuhan doubles as a cargo service and you may spend considerable time (hours) waiting for the boat to be loaded and unloaded -- bring a book.
Central Ampana is small enough to walk around. Ojeks are a dime a dozen should you need to head further afield to either the Mandiri ATM or Labuhan for the boat to Bomba.
A few kilometres to the east of town are a couple of pretty decent beaches. While we didn't investigate further (we just spied them from the public ferry from Bomba) if you were in Ampana for a few days for some reason, the beaches could make for an interesting boat trip -- ask around at the Information Office, pier, or the boat pilots at Labuhan for possibilities.
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