North Toraja

The unique green hills of Bonggakaradeng that will be a feast to your eyes

A three-hour drive from Makale, bordered by Enrekang in the south, is Bonggakaradeng District. In Torajan Bonggakaradeng comes from the words Bongga and Karadeng. Bongga means ‘large’ and Karadeng (is Karaeng) means ‘high caste nobility’. The local community calls the area “Negeri di atas awan”, translated to the land above the clouds.

The name Bonggakaradeng comes from the unique mountainous geography of the region. The main feature of the district is the hills that tower over 1,200 meters above sea level. Between the hills are shallow valleys with small settlements. The area is dry compared with much of Toraja, but in the early morning the valleys are shrouded in thick fog.

If you visit Bonggakaradeng you’ll see the green valleys surrounded by the steep hills peak. While you are visiting the district, make sure to visit the unique hills located close to SMA Negeri 1 Bonggakaradeng (the senior highschool). The locals call it the Teletubbies Hill. From the hill you have a panoramic view of Bonggakaradeng. You can see buffaloes in the fields and the terraced rice fields on the slopes of the hill and on the valley floor.

The farmers in Bonggakaradeng have developed a system of mixed agriculture to make the fields productive. Don’t be surprised to see eels and fish swimming in the rice fields.

From the hillls of Bonggakaradeng District you can see the Sa’dan River, which flows, winding, like a giant snake along the valley floor and between steep ravines. The 182 km long river is a valuable source of water for irrigation, but is also used by tourists looking for an adventure on the rocky rapids. The white water rafting on the Sa’dan is through grade 3-5 rapids. The rafting trips on the Sa’dan River usually start near Rantepao and end close to Enrekang.

Bonggakaradeng District is also famous for the Ballo,’ the traditional wine from Toraja, produced here. The Ballo’ produced in Bonggadakaradeng is mainly sold in the busy towns of Makale and Rantepao. The wine is fermented from the sap of the feather palm, Arenga Pinnata. It is a nice thing to drink on a cold Torajan night as it warms the body.

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