This wonderful wilderness area, located just 50 km north of Makassar, was first explored in 1857, and for its vastness, it was then divided into several wildlife sanctuaries and protected areas: Maros-Pangkep Karst, Bantimurung, Gua Pattunuang, Bantimurung, Karaenta, and Bulusaurung.

There are two main reasons to come here – spectacular karts landscape and exotic butterflies.

Rammang-Rammang Karst Area

The region is home to almost 300 pre-historic caves, waterfalls and unique animal collection, including Sulawesi moor macaque, the red-knobbed hornbill, cuscus and palm civet and bats and the endangered Tarsus fuscus (one of the world`s smallest mammalians).

The Leang-Leang area is where the oldest dated hand stencil in the world and possibly the oldest figurative depiction in cave art were found.

Tarsius Fuscus is one of the world`s smallest primates


Rammang-Rammang – this limestone area will blow your mind away with its karst formations, caves, waterfalls, forested mountains, paddy fields, lakes and rivers – this is a perfect spot for nature lovers, climbers and photographers

Green River – rafting, canoeing, kayaking

Bantimurung Waterfall – known for unique species of butterflies

Bantimurung Cave – gorgeous stalagmites and stalactites

Bantimurung Butterfly Park – a collection of native butterflies, found nowhere else on earth

Maros & Bone Caves – 33 ancient caves throughout the two of regencies, lovely waterfalls, Stone & Dream Caves are known for tubing

Petta Kere Cave – the oldest dated hand stencil in the world – a female babirusa animal, (located 12 km from Maros, the entrance to the cave is 30 m above a rice field, access by ladder)

Leang Leang prehistoric park, Maros


Situated mere 3 hours drive from Palu, the foremost archaeological site in Sulawesi is a great puzzle. More than 400 granite megalithic rocks have been proudly standing over the verdant hills of Lore Lindu for about 5000 years.

Some structures look like just like giant pots and plates, resembling the Plain of Jars in Laos, while others were carved to represent human forms. They vary in size from 5 centimetres to nearly 5 meters, and various studies have dated the carvings from between 3000 BC to 1300AD. No one really knows what the original purpose of these megaliths was, and so, the site remains an archaeological mystery.

Apart from being a significant historical location, the national park is covered with both lowland tropical and alpine forests (reaching up to 2,610 m), that provides habitat to a huge variety of fauna, including rare butterflies, tarsiers, maleo, primates on the verge of extinction and 77 exotic bird species found nowhere else on earth.

Obviously, eco-tourism is in the spotlight, and there are 4 major areas to visit – Palolo Valley, Napu Valley, Bada Valley and Kulawi Valley. The gateways to the reserve are Tentena (the eastern access) and Kamarora (the northern access) where you can arrange a tour.

Tarsius Tarsier is one of the world`s smallest primates, Lore Lindu Tarsier breeding centre


Camping, trekking, hiking and rafting are the most popular activities, and even though the terrain is pretty tough, the vistas are terrific

Fauna & flora – the national park is rich in exotic flora – orchids and cloves in particular, and odd wildlife, such as anoa (dwarf buffalo) and babirusa (literally, pig-deer) and tarsier (visit the tarsier breeding centre)

Nature and eco-tours – arrange a tour in Tentena at any guesthouse or hire a private guide

Bada Valley is best for megaliths and trekking

Lariang River offers great rafting

Gintu Village is known for eco-tourism and jungle trekking

Lake Lindu is the last remaining lake in the region, and it can be easily explored. (All the valleys were once lakes, but today, they are filled with sediment except for the Lake Lindu)

Poso Lake – the deepest lakes in Indonesia is fringed by traditional fishermen villages and stilt huts (tours can be booked in Tentena or Pendolo)

Tentena – hire a scooter and drive around the Poso Lake (stop by the Saluopa Falls, Siuri Beach and numerous walking tracks along the way)

Endemic Sulawesi Babirusa (pig-deer), Lore Lindu


Despite illegal logging and poaching, this extensive national park features well-preserved nature and abundant wildlife. Spectral tarsier, anoa, babirusa, maleo, fruit bats and black-crested macaque inhabit the reserve, and there are many rare species of plants and flowers, e.g. orchids, ebony, ironwood and palms.

Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park stretches across the border of North Sulawesi and Gorontalo, and it is one of the least accessible conservation areas on the island.

There are 3 entry point for the Western visitors: One is in Kotamobagu (North Sulawesi) where you can arrange a tour upstream the Dumoga River. The other is in Pinogu (Gorontalo).

The critically endangered black-crested macaque dwells in Bogani Nani Wartabone


There are no tourist facilities in the wilderness area, and all travellers will need to book a tour in Kotamobagu or Pinogu (there are various options, ranging from one-day trips to all-inclusive multi-day jungle expeditions.)


Nantu Forest Animal Sanctuary  – take an eco-tour to the depths of the Nantu jungles and discover the rare creatures such as Buru Babirusa, Anoa, Celebes warty pigSpectral tarsierHeck’s macaqueSulawesi palm civetKnobbed hornbill and various reptiles (this is a very remote area, and it takes 4 hours by jeep from the city of Gorontalo, plus 3 hours by boat)

Anoa (a dwarf buffalo), Nantu Forest


The prime point of interest in North Sulawesi is just an hour away from ManadoLake Tondano. The lake has a picturesque setting, and a pleasant atmosphere adds

on its charm, and there is even a tree house you can climb to enjoy the views from atop.

The nearby Tomohon area is renowned for eco-tourism, agro-tourism, indigenous tribes and a flower festival. It a good base for those who are planning on climbing Mount Lokon & Mount Empung twin volcanoes or rafting the Nimanga River.

Lake Tondano, Minahasan Highlands


Urongo Tree House – 6 wooden platforms attached to the trees that overlook Lake Tondano, you can climb the tree and see the panorama from a bird’s perspective (access from Lake Tondano)

Woloan Village – eco-tourism, traditional Minahasa wooden cottages where you can stay in the highlands

Danau Linow – pay a visit to the three-coloured lake and watch how the shades of green and blue are changing according to the sunlight intensity

Bukit Kasih– climb the 2435 stairs to get up to the top of the ‘Hill of Tolerance’ to see an amazing view of nature (Bukit Kasih is a sacred place for the Minahasa tribe), and there are natural hot springs around this area (access from Kawangkoan)

Timbukar – Nimanga River is a popular rafting location (all grades)

Mt Mahawu – a fantastic and easy volcano trek to the crater`s edge, view to the steaming crater lake and sulfur pools, don`t miss out on the sacred site of Bukit Doa and Pagoda Vihara Ekayana

Mt Lokon (1580 m) – fairly easy climb with stunning views to the Tompaluan crater (1100 m)

Tunan Waterfall – easily accessible via a short path along the river, good for photography and birdlife spotting

Tunan Waterfall

Modoinding Valley – a favourite agro-tourism place, vast organic farms (vegetables, spices), farm stays and homesteads are a must-do! Moat Lake is the scenic highlight – a serene place to linger with Gunung Ambang in the background, traditional Minahasan cottages

Manembo-Nembo Nature Reserve – a large wildlife reserve and one of the last primary rainforests in Sulawesi with clear rivers and abundant flora and fauna (crested black macaque, tarsier, cuscus, woodpecker, hornbill, kingfisher, etc.), there are no official tours to the jungle area but you can ask at your guesthouse for a private guide (access from Tanahwangko or Tumpaan)

Sulawesi Wrinkled Hornbill, Manembo-Nembo Nature Reserve


In the depths of the North-Sulawesi`s rainforest, the animal life is bountiful and often remarkable, including rare monkeys, deer-pigs and the world’s smallest primate – tarsier.

Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve protects more than 130 mammals, 230 birds and 100 reptiles, many of which are critically endangered or close to extinction, e.g. the Celebes crested macaque (the last 5,500 remaining animals in Sulawesi), maleo, spectral tarsier, babirusa, cuscus, kingfisher and the knobbed hornbill.

The reserve was established in 1919, yet it is still extremely fragile.

Batuangus Nature Reserve, Tangkoko National Park


Mount Klabat (1995 m) – climb the highest volcano on Sulawesi island and discover its wide, shallow crater lake  at the summit

Batu Putih Nature Reserve – a natural paradise combining white sandy beaches and coastal rainforest, if lucky you can spot the Celebes crested macaque, kus-kus, spectral tarsier knobbed hornbill or kingfisher

Batuangus Nature Reserve – not far from Batu Putih, the park is popular with hikers, from the peak of Batuangus Mount (500 m) you can see Bitung

Batu Putih Coastal Reserve, Tangkoko National Park


Tourism infrastructure is well-developed in the Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve, and there are various operators that offer safari & trekking tours, and there is even an option to hire a private guide (there is no access to the reserve without booking a tour or haring a local ranger/guide). You might need a pair of binoculars and good shoes if trekking through the forest. Tarsier – one of the highlights of the reserve – is most active in the afternoon. To get to the reserve catch a ‘bemo’ in Bitung.

Tarsier is the tourist highlight in the Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve


Sulawesi is home to 6 extremely rare and endangered species of animals that can be seen nowhere else on earth. For instance, Anoa (something between water buffalo, deer and goat, only 5000 anoas are still in existence), Babirusa (wild deer-pig), Maleo (a peculiar flyless bird that looks more like an exotic cockerel, 10 000 animals left), Kuskus (a marsupial resembling a small bear and it prefers a lazy lifestyle similar to koala), Celebes Black Macaque (the primate is close to extinction due to illegal hunting, sadly it is a very popular bushmeat for the local people, 4000 animals left) and Tarsius Tarsier (one of the world`s smallest primates).

Kus-Kus bear, North Sulawesi


The parasitic Rafflesia Arnoldi is also called ‘corpse flower’, for its horrible odour of decaying flesh. The smell of rotting serves to attract insects to pollinate this rare plant. West Sumatra is the only place in the world whit ‘Rafflesia eco-tourism’.

However, environmentalists claim that increased human activity has disturbed bud production at many locations. Today, sadly, Rafflesia is close to extinction.  The largest ever recorded rafflesia grew to a diameter of 105 cm.

Rafflesia Arnoldi, the largest flower on earth


Togean Islands National Park in Central Sulawesi is home to Coconut Crabthe largest land-living arthropod in the world. It is probably at the upper size limit for terrestrial animals with exoskeletons in recent times, with a weight of up to 4 kg and a size up to 1 meter in length from leg to leg.

Togean Coconut Crab grows up to 1 m

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Eva Bodova

Friday 31 August 2018

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