The Sa’dan river which follows the road as one travels up from Makale to Rantepao in the highlands of Toraja in South Sulawesi, is the lifeblood of the people of Toraja, as the Sa’dan irrigates the surrounding fertile rice fields and provides water for both humans and cattle in this largely agricultural land.
The Sa’dan river has its source in the mountains north of Rantepao and is one of the longest rivers on the island of Sulawesi, flowing a distance of 182 km and measures 80 meters at its widest point. Along this long route, the river sometimes moves slowly over flat terrains, but more often rushes swiftly over big boulders and steep valleys, creating an unshakeable attraction to white water rafting afficionadoes.
Rafting the entire Sa’dan river can take two days, offering challenges from grade 3-5, passing picturesque swathes of green ricefields, quaint traditional villages, steep gorges and high rocky mountains. It is, therefore, not a river for the meek nor for beginners. The Sa’dan river is the river for experienced and adventurous rafters. The rapids at Puru are grade three, the Seba Rapids are grade 4, with the fastest being the Fitri rapids offering grade 5 challenges, sure to pump up your adrinaline. These grades mean that rafting on the Sa’dan can be difficult, has wavy, long, consecutivwe and strong currents, has dangerous rocks and in places has foaming whirlpool froth.
The start of rafting is at the hanging bridge of Buah Kayu, north of the town of Rantepao, some 3.5 hours ride by four-wheel drive vehicle, and finishes at the Pappi bridge at Enrekang. Participants donot need to worry about accommodation, since there are many homes along the river to stay the night.
Makassar, capital of South Sulawesi, is the entry point to the Toraja Highlands. As airline hub for East Indonesia, Makassar is served by many domestic airlines from Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali and other parts of the country.
The only way to get to the town of Rantepao in Toraja is by road, which takes about 8 hours from Makassar. From Rantepao to the start of your rafting expedition at Buah Kayu takes another 3.5 hours by four-wheel drive. There are buses available in Makassar that ply the Makassar-Toraja route.