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Indonesia forum

Sulawesi and maybe more

Posted by subliminalpop on 19/5/2016 at 05:25

in August (about 3 weeks) I'm thinking of going to Sulawesi and wanted to know some information about it (I already have the guide book, but it's old - I've been in Java, Bali, Lombok and Gili many years ago. So I'd like to have some "fresh" news).
Mi idea is fly-in to Makassar fly-out from Manado
It’s possible to do this trip, from south to north, all by land with local transport? Through Palu and including Luwuk zone?
Which could be the must see place/things to do?
(I like to chill on the beach, but not more than 2 days in the same place. I don’t dive, only snorkelling. I’d like to do some trek, also challenging)
Any other island near there to see? (maybe by boat)
Or something in Kalimantan?
Which could be the day budget for a backpacker style (sometimes with a little bit of more comfort)?
Thank you all in adavance

#1 subliminalpop has been a member since 19/5/2016. Location: Italy. Posts: 5

Posted by gecktrek on 19/5/2016 at 21:58

hey, i did the north to south route (ie. manado, pulau bunaken, tomohon, tondano, gorontalo, togian islands, ampana, poso, palu, gintu, tentena, rantepao and makassar) awhile ago and it took 6 weeks. not sure if you could do it all in 3 weeks? but sulawesi certainly has a lot to offer!

#2 gecktrek has been a member since 24/3/2013. Location: Australia. Posts: 182

Posted by subliminalpop on 24/6/2016 at 03:06

Ok, I've decided (more or less) my trip

7 Makassar
8 Cape Bira
9 Cape Bira
10 Bus to Rantepao
11 Rantepao
12 Rantepao
13 Bus to Tentena
14 Tentena or Pendolo
15 Ampana
16 Togean
17 Togean
18 Ferry to Gorontalo
19 Taman Nasional Bogani Nani Wartabone
20 Bus to Tomohon
21 Tomohon
22 Tomohon
23 Tangkoko Park
24 Tangkoko Park
25 Jakarta
26 Departure from Jakarta 13.00

Suggestions or concerns about it are welcome... thanks.

#3 subliminalpop has been a member since 19/5/2016. Location: Italy. Posts: 5

Posted by SBE on 24/6/2016 at 05:52

Yikes, holiday from hell unless sitting on cramped, dirty and uncomfortable buses and boats for 90% of the time is your idea of fun.

You'll realise how crazy that proposed itinerary is once you get there. Suggest you just start in Makassar and see how far you can get rather than making a day by day itinerary.

I'd suggest skipping the Togians which are very time consuming to get to. You haven't allowed enough time to do any island hopping once you're there (there are several islands you can stay on) and there probably won't even be enough time to do a snorkeling trip. Plus it's peak season in August and it'll be very hard to get a room... you may have to sleep on the beach or the floor of a restaurant. Swap Togians for Bunaken if you're in a rush ... it's much quicker and easier to get to (and leave).


Makassar (1 night)
Bus to Bira next morning ...takes 5-6hrs and arrives mid afternoon.
2-3 nights Bira depending on how you feel.
Bus back to Makassar, then either an overnight bus to Rantepao (ie a further 8 hours after the 6 hours from Bira, no opportunity to take a shower) or spend another night in Makassar and get a day bus to Rantepao next day. I'd recommend the latter option...you won't be as tired and the scenery on that route is worth seeing.

Rantepao... 3-4 days or more, depending on trekking options .... then back to Makassar on the night bus and ask to get dropped off at the airport. Fly to Manado and do the North Sulawesi stuff.

#4 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,055

Posted by subliminalpop on 24/6/2016 at 09:27

Hi SBE,thanks for the reply.
Yeah, Ilike dirty bus! And boat as well :)
Jokesaside, of courese I'll understand once therewhat to do and how but, you know, an hypothetical program is better thannothing.
For examplein Togean I should have 2 full days: 1/2 + 1 (snorkelling tour) + 1/2 (and I'vealready booked 2 places! :D)
One importantquestion now: are you sure about 5/6 hours to Bira by bus? Cause on the LPguide I’ve read 4… in that case probably I’m gonna skip Bira and use that daysin Rantepao or after…

#5 subliminalpop has been a member since 19/5/2016. Location: Italy. Posts: 5

Posted by SBE on 24/6/2016 at 12:15

Yup I'm sure and actually those times I gave were quite optimistic. According to notes from last year, my bus was scheduled to leave Makassar at 9am. It actually left at 9.15 (not bad for Indonesia) but there were several stops en route. First there was a 15 minute stop so that passengers could eat boiled corn cobs. Then there was another 15 minute stop to allow passengers to stock up on watermelons. Then we stopped for lunch for about 45 minutes. We arrived in Bira around 3.30pm.... ie over 6hrs after departure and this was a good modern bus so there weren't any breakdowns.

You could take a shared taxi (kijang) instead of the bus if you want to get there quicker but it'll be a lot less comfortable. I prefer using the slower A/C buses .... at least you're likely to get a whole seat to yourself and some leg room. Makassar-Bira is a short trip by Sulawesi standards so kijangs doing that route usually cram in 4 passengers per seat at the back of the car and two people have to share the front seat .... and there's very little space for luggage of course.

Gorontalo to Manado takes 9hrs so kijangs only put 3 people on each back seat and one in the front. Seat prices in Kijangs depend on comfort...the cramped seats right at the back are the cheapest place and the front passenger seat is the most expensive. You can pay for 2 places if you want more leg room.

The Togeans are a group of islands and it takes about 7 hours on a local boat to get from one end of the archipelago to the other (depends on sea conditions and how good the captain and the boat engine are). You don't say what resorts you've already booked but logistically if you're getting the ferry on the 18th your only realistic option is to stay somewhere near Wakai (one of the 3 resorts on Kadidiri or the new Harmony Beach Resort, or Sunset Beach Resort). Where did you already book??? Did you factor in transfer times between the resorts?

#6 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,055

Posted by subliminalpop on 24/6/2016 at 13:20

I'm 1.90m, I prefer bus too, even if dirty ;)

(also for the local life, etc.)

Bira:so, according to my plan, is it worth? It's a good place tostay?

Togean: yes, in Kadidiri (Balck Marlin + Kadidiri Paradise). I've read about a day trip to Una Una (Gunung Colo volcano) including several stops to snorkel…

From Wakai to Kadidiri is, more or less, 1 hour by boat right?

Thankyou again


#7 subliminalpop has been a member since 19/5/2016. Location: Italy. Posts: 5

Posted by SBE on 24/6/2016 at 17:08

Bira. Probably not worth it with your overly charged schedule. It's a good place to go if you have a few days to kill while waiting for a flight out of Makassar but the accommodation there is quite pricey and it gets pretty busy with locals at weekends and on public holidays (think banana boats and jet skis)

Togean. Black Marlin and Paradise are right next door to each other, so I'm not sure why you chose to stay at both resorts, but at least it won't take more than a couple of minutes to walk to your new room!

Black Marlin has got an artificial beach in front of their resort now, which seems to have totally f*cked up the water depth on Kadidiri beach... it was impossible to swim at low tide there last year. Paradise is a much larger resort and has a pier round the back so you can always get into the water there even at low tide.

I went to Una Una over 10 years ago on a dive boat from Black Marlin... I was the only snorkeler on board and all the spots we stopped at were quite deep so it was hard to see any coral but I did see some interesting stuff like schooling baracuda etc. Journey time was quite long if I remember right (2-3hrs?) and we didn't stop anywhere en route. Una Una itself seemed quite barren and desolate compared to the other Togean islands but people who've stayed at the new dive resort on Una Una say the snorkeling on the house reef is pretty good, even if the beach isn't particularly idyllic. I think Black Marlin are planning to open another dive resort on Una Una soon too.

Boat trips to Una Una get cancelled if the sea's too rough but there are usually other options for day trips nearer Kadidiri if this happens...jellyfish lake, Taipi island, Karina beach etc.

Transfer time from Wakai is only 20-30 minutes but both Black Marlin and Paradise like to get rid of their guests immediately after lunch so you'll probably have to spend a few hours kicking your heels in Wakai the day you catch the ferry to Gorontalo. There's absolutely nothing to do in Wakai but you can buy a coffee or snacks at the stalls next to the pier while you're waiting for the ferry to arrive.

#8 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,055

Posted by subliminalpop on 25/6/2016 at 03:40

Una Una: I would “climb” the volcano, but at this point I will decide once there (costs, weather, etc.).

Togean: I’ve booked both cause I’m not already sure where to go (free cancelation until 1st of august). I’ve read that the guys of Black Marlin are not so friendly with people do not dive and now your words on the beach are a further push to choose Paradise.

#9 subliminalpop has been a member since 19/5/2016. Location: Italy. Posts: 5

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