With just an hour of sleep, fresh from our flight from Manila, our 11 days “Trip of Wonders” officially started. While it seemed as if that we just arrived from the airport, we found ourselves flying again to the city of Makassar.
Before this trip, I didn’t even know about the existence of this city (which made it more exciting for me to explore). When you mention Indonesia to me, all I can think of are Jakarta, Indonesia, and Bandung (because I have a friend who lives here ^^). So when I read in our itinerary that this is the first city that we will visit, I got so intrigued on what we will do there.
If you are like me, who is a first time explorer of this city, here are some suggestions that will make your time in Makassar worth while. (Note: you don’t necessarily have to do all of these in one trip—unless you really want to –insert evil laugh)
BANTIMURUNG BULUSARAUNG NATIONAL PARK (EXPLORE THE CAVES + TAKE A SPLASH + HAVE A PICNIC)
If you are traveling in groups (whether with friends or family) this destination can be a good option. The Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park is famous for its waterfall, caves and apparently, butterflies.
The main attraction that we visited was the Bantimurung Waterfall. The waterfall is open to the public, so anyone who wants a cool splash can just go and have a dip. There are also life-savers for rent which can be used as a make-shift-one-person-only-raft (yheap extreme sports! Aha).
At the side of the waterfall, you can find a staircase going to two caves that surround the area, the Cave of Dreams and the Batu Caves. If you have time to spare, you can visit either one of these caves. I go a chance to visit the Batu Cave along with my friends Edgar (@eazytraveler), Govit (itong2go) and Pojie (@pojiegraphy) .Tip: if you have a torch in your mobile phone, you don’t have to rent a flashlight at the entrance of the cave.
Aside from the main tourist attractions that I mentioned, Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park is also known as a breeding ground of several rare butterfly species. In fact from a previous exploration, around 250 species of butterflies were found in the park, hence it was also called as the “Kingdom of Butterflies”- (www.sulawesi-experience.com). So don’t forget to take time looking for at least a few butterflies before leaving the park (magnets and key rings are not counted ok?).
KONDINGARENG KEKE ISLAND
One of the awesome things you can definitely do in Makassar is to hop on a boat and snorkel. The first island we went to is the Kondingareng Keke Island. It is famous for its crystal blue waters and beautiful diving spots. We were able to snorkel around and also played along its white sand beach (note: be careful, wear proper aqua shoes as we’ve seen a lot of sea urchins a few meters from the beach).
While snorkeling, we were approached by a guy who can sail you around the island for only 100,000 IDR/head ( you will see his boat with a National Geographic printed sail). This can be an option if you want to experience traveling on a sailboat. We didn’t do this, because our visit came just after our arrival in Indonesia and we were still not sure of the conversion rate, so we felt 100,000 IDR was too expensive (hahaha).
PICNIC LUNCH AT SAMALONA ISLAND
Just a little boat ride away from Kondingareng Keke Island lies this (also) beautiful island called Samalona. Normally, these two islands come in a package as you cannot find any food and refreshments available in Kondingareng Keke Island. In Samalona Island, you can have freshly cooked local food perfectly prepared for you and your crew (don’t forget to grab some coconut to quench your thirst!).
Aside from the tropical dining experience, the island also offers accommodations for a small group of tourists or even locals looking for a weekender.
Interesting fact about Samalona Island (especially for those who are thinking of going for a diving exploration):
“The island is saving a million mystery about his wreck of the ship-relics of World War II. There are about seven boats that sank in the area of this island, among them: Maru ship, owned by a Japanese warship sank at a depth of about 30 meters; ship Lancaster Bomber which also sank at a depth of about 30 meters; submarine hunter (gunboat) Japanese-owned ; Hakko Maru cargo ship made in the Netherlands, and Japan’s submarines. Wrecked ships have been transformed into a reef and became a “house” or “residence” for hundreds of diverse marine life forms, and type and color that is very admirable. The beauty of this is the major attraction for tourists to come swim in the carcasses of the shipwreck.” – www.Indonesia-tourism.com
SUNSET AT LOSARI BEACH
Makassar being at the west side of the South Sulawesi is very proud of its sunset. Our group went to Losari Beach (Pantai Losari) to view the beautiful Makassar sunset. Losari Beach is located on the west side of Makassar (imagine, west of the west – you can’t have anything better than that). We stayed at the city square where a lot of the locals meet (and eat). It was a bit crowded, but somehow when the sky turned red, I didn’t mind.
HISTORICAL FORT ROTTERDAM AND MUSEUM LA GALIGO
Fort Rotterdam is a 17th century fort located at the heart of the city of Makassar. The fort dates back to the Kingdom of Gowa to the colonization by the Dutch. It was a bit warm during our morning visit, so I suggest to visit around afternoon time as the heat can be a bit discomforting.
The idea that this fort has been a witnessed of many historical episodes that molded the Makassar we have known today, makes walking around it visit worth every step.
When visiting the Rotterdam Fort, one shouldn’t miss a tour around the Museum La Galigo. The main collection shows the art, livelihood, architecture and objects made and used by the ethnic Bugis, Makassar, Mandar and Toraja.
Being an architect (or let me say, ex architect), it was interesting to see the different houses from these ethnic groups, their similarities from each other and also their unique forms.
It took us almost an hour to go around the museum. It will be helpful to ask for a guide at the reception to fill you up with insightful information during your tour. For sure I will be disappointed walking around and seeing artifacts but can’t understand any of them (note: most of the display descriptions are in Bahasa).
TAKE A CULINARY TRIP
Another note during our trip, Makassar is proud of their food (specially their seafood dishes). We ate a lot of fish during our stay. Steamed, fried and even soup dish, name it they have it. As expected, most of the dishes were spicy, thanks to the ever present sambal (chili paste). It was a good thing that I love spicy food, although at times it did get too spicy.
Other notable food to try are:
Pallubasa = coconut, beef and raw eggyolk soup
Jalangkote = meat pie, similar to an empanada or calzone with meat
Pisang Ijo = banana covers in rice dough, dipped in milk and topped with shredded ice (this is my favorite).
BONUS DETOUR: KARAOKE?
Ok ok ok, I was not supposed to include this but, well, we did it and we really enjoyed it. Plus, there were a full strip of karaoke clubs in Makassar just a few walks from Losari Beach. If you just want to unwind after a long day of traveling around, this can be a good option and also a chance to bond with your friends.
As a first time visitor to Indonesia, I was very happy that my introduction to the culture and beauty of this land was through the city of Makassar. I got a good dose of history, sceneries and a belly full of Indonesian flavors.
If you already visited Makassar before, are there other places that you can recommend to add in this tour? What is you favorite food from your trip? Share it with us by commenting below. ^^
From Makassar, we went to the island/s of Lombok where we visited a traditional village and explored more islands! Blog about this adventure is coming up next.
This post is in collaboration with The Tourism Ministry of Indonesia
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