Poyalisa, Bomba, Togean Islands

We wanted to relax a bit at the end of our trip, and the Togean Islands are made for this it seems. We went to Poyalisa (Pulau Poya), a tiny island which a single family-run guest house with some small cottages on it. The island is not visible on Google maps at this time, but it is a 100m swim from Bomba divers. The speedboat and ferry to Wakai can drop you off at Bomba/Poyalisa if you tell them in advance. There is no public boat to Wakai from Pulau Poya, but you can charter one.

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Poyalisa island, view from the boat on the way to a snorkeling trip

The cottages on the island are basic, power comes from a generator which only runs at night, and a boat pumps water into a large tank connected to the cottages once per day. Food is included and delicious, grilled fish every day. It is served on a large table in the main building, so everybody meets there 3 times a day to eat, talk, and plan the next snorkeling trip.

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Our cottage at Poyalisa

Some snorkeling trips are free, and those to remote locations will cost you the equivalent of a beer. We went to almost all trips that were offered, including the spot near Taupan, Bomba atoll, and some others of which I forget the names.

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Balcony with hammocks at Poyalis

The snorkeling in the Togeans is excellent, with lots of beautiful hard coral and small fish. I’ve seen other reefs while snorkeling and diving in the Caribbean and my impression is that there were comparably few larger fishes in the Togean Islands.

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You can also snorkel directly at Poyalisa of course. The corals are not as great and visibility is less than at the reefs, but you can find lots of interesting species, including moray eels, lion fishes, needlefish, sea urchins, sea stars and seahorses. We also saw sea snakes,  lobsters and a sea turtle at the atoll. Another sea turtle showed up in the sea grass at Poyalisa, 50m from the beach.

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You can also visit the small village Bomba (5 minutes by boat) and a nearby bat cave in the forest.

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Rain forest trekking near Tentena

I originally intended to go to Lore Lindo National Park from Tentena, but it turned out that it’s currently (June 2016) not very advisable. People told us that while it is safe to go to the villages of Bomba and Gintu and the nearby megaliths, trekking in remote areas of the park would maybe not be a good idea: a group of terrorists is hiding in the park, and the military is operating in the area. So we decided to do some trekking near Tentena, in the mountains west of lake Poso.

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Me and Nyong in the rain forest, west of Tentena.

When going there, keep in mind this is cloud forest at about 1,000m above sea level. It’s always wet and it rains a lot. And if you don’t move, it gets cold in a t-shirt. But it’s very steep and muddy terrain, so you won’t be freezing while you walk. 😉

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Tree fern in the cloud forest.

 

Together with our guide Nyong and our ranger William, we used a hiking trail created by trekking guides from Tentena. It hadn’t been used by them in a while, but other people use it to enter the forest to collect resin by tapping trees or to put up traps.

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Wet leaf in the cloud forest

The region has primary rain forest that is very beautiful, but we encountered only very little wild life while we climbed higher and higher. The path leads to a small hut in the rain forest where we stayed for the night.

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William in the forest

The next day we went down to the lake on the other side, using an even steeper path. We were a bit unlucky with the weather, even for the cloud forest according to our guide: it started raining in the early morning, and it got worse and worse. It would not stop until the night.

 

We were more sliding than walking down the mountain, and the noise from the rain along with the very slippery ground made it hard to watch out for wild life while walking. We were lucky to almost bump into a sloth on the last kilometers. Still it was a great trip and Nyong and William did a great job explaining things about the forest and finding the way.