Sulawesi, formerly Celebes Island is the world’s eleventh-largest island, covering an area of 174,600 km2. Ujung Pandang (Makasar) is its chief city and port; other important towns are Manado, Gorontalo, and Palopo. Extremely irregular in shape, it comprises four large peninsulas separated by three gulfs—Tomini on the northeast, Tolo on the southeast, and Bone on the south. The terrain is almost wholly mountainous, with many active volcanoes. Mt. Rantemario and Mt. Rante kombola are the highest peaks. There are numerous lakes; Towuti is the largest and Tondano, with its waterfall, the most beautiful.
Sulawesi is full of natural attraction. Just offshore is some of the best diving and snorkeling in Indonesia, if not the world. Pulau Bunaken and the Lembeh Strait take top billing, but for those prepared to venture off the trail, there are the beautiful beaches of the laid-back Togean Island in Central Sulawesi and the incredible Wakatobi Marine National Park in the far southeast.
Tana Toraja is spellbinding, home to a proud people hemmed in by magnificent mountains on all sides. The scenery of volcanoes and rice fields is stunning. However, the Toraja’s elaborate death rituals are something else. Cave graves, tau tau (carved wooden effigies of the dead), a buffalo cult, houses shaped like boats and the dead treated like the living – a visit here is out of this world.