The itinerary for our second day in the highlands of Tana Toraja consisted of a half-day village hike around Batutumonga, an area located on the slopes of Gunung Sesean (Mount Sesean). We departed early in the morning and visited the settlement of Ke’te Kesu’ first before going to the starting place of our hike. It is a solid hour drive from Rantepao by car and it is mostly an uphill ride. As for preparations, our guide Hendrik told us to only bring good walking shoes, comfortable clothes, and some water. He provided the food for our lunch.
Before we started, we took in the spectacular views at our starting point. Beautiful sloped rice fields and scattered boulders of enormous sizes occupied the sprawling landscape. It was a little bit cloudy, not too hot, and thus perfect hiking weather. And every once in a while a nice breeze flew by us and offered some freshness.
The hike, which lasted for about four hours, led us through valleys of rice fields, quaint little mountain villages, bamboo forests, rocky trails, and various plantations. It’s a very peaceful but occasionally quite intensive walk; there is hardly any sound except for the occasional bird calling and axe chopping. Nature can be so soothing and silent. Mount Sesean sat majestically in the background while we made our way up the mountain. Buffalos wallowed in mud baths and mountainous streams. The occasional eagle soared above our heads and called out, which was amazing. It was very beautiful and so very serene and relaxing. And along the way, we met enthusiastic local people and children that were delighted to see that foreign travelers were walking there nearby their houses.
All in all, Batutumonga is without a doubt a stunning and beautiful area. The rice fields, boulders, and people make this one of the top destinations in Sulawesi and Tana Toraja. I would highly recommend doing a hike with a guide if you are in the area. It is a memorable experience that you will not easily forget.