Both inland and offshore, West Sulawesi and the Togean islands are a treasure chest of biodiversity amongst nature, where tribal customes are still vivid and the internet world is a far away reality. In West Sulawesi, Mamasa is a nice town with a colourful Monday market and the gateway to the homonymous valley offering a mountainous landscape, though is difficult to access. Don’t be put off by the bumpy roads, as they will bring you deep inside traditional villages where you can watch animist ceremonies, visit some typical tongkonan houses and listen to lively christian choirs. The cool weather will make you appreciate the warmth of the blankets made in traditional sambu textile, handmade by local women before your eyes. Take a challenging trek through coffee plantations and isolated villages, crossing suspended bridges and walking along small paths. Along the way, you can experience village life and observe traditional basket weaving and wood crafting. North of the valley you will find century old tongkonan house and tedong-tedong tombs, caves, waterfalls and hot springs.
Up in the Gulf of Tomini lay the Togean islands, one of Indonesia’s most unspoiled archipelagos, which are best to be explored by phinisi, Indonesia’s traditional wood vessel. You will sail through waters so transparent that at times, it gives the impression of being on the surface of an aquarium. You can swim and snorkel around limestone formations and giant coral gardens during the day and be mesmerised by fluorescent plankton at night. You will pass through a channel lined by mangrove forests and visit local villages comprising the typical stilted houses, dive inside WWII wrecks, come across a 35°C salty lake filled with harmless jellyfish, wander through rainforests home to an abundance wildlife and rest on black-sanded volcanic beaches. You will feel as though you’re in a spaceless environment, connecting to nature in a way you may never have before.