The small city of Rantepao (population 40,000) in South Sulawesi lies in Toraja, a region that is known for being the cultural center of the Toraja ethnic group. Traditionally, the people in the region are rice farmers. Rantepoa lies in the highlands and is less hot than Makassar.
The Toraja are known for their traditional culture, which includes animal sacrifices during ceremonies held at various events, e.g., a funeral or when a traditional house has been build. I read about it in our guide book before coming to Toraja and expected there would be some traditional museum village filled with actors that perform for tourist groups – something I’d rather skip to be honest. I thought we would just go to Toraja for some trekking in the great scenery.
But it turned out that the culture of the Toraja is still alive everywhere in the region, and that the people were very friendly and interested in talking to visitors. One morning, a guy we met at the Wisma Maria hostel was talking to Johannis, a guide from Toraja, about visiting a ceremony. After asking Johannis lots of questions, we decided to join, and I did not regret it. It was a very interesting day. I strongly recommend to invest the time to find a friendly and good guide from Toraja who suits you, personally knows the people you will be visiting and also knows about the culture.
The scenery around Rantepao is great, and you can rent a motor bike or just walk around. We walked near Batutumonga one day, and from Rantepao to the village Kesu (near the larger Ke’te Kesu) on another day. Both were great trips.