Our sturdy rental motorbike puttered its way up the steep, twisting road, carrying us up and down the steps created by broken asphalt. We were heading for Batutumonga, north of Rantepao, and not quite at the top of a mountain. We passed Torajan villages with traditional pointed roofed houses, graves in large rocks and acres of paddy fields. As we climbed further, the view became more and more spectacular.
Batutumonga had been recommended to me by a friend as a great day out, and although the journey was tiring, it was worth it. Our rented motorbike turned out to be stronger than it looked, carrying us up steep, bumpy roads, and we were relieved we had chosen this older semi-automatic model rather than the new shiny automatic bikes that would not cope driving up these roads with two passengers.
Petrol is available at many small shops on the way up and even right at the top, which is just as well because driving in first gear up the slopes used a lot of gas. We passed many scenic points on the way up, sometimes stopping to take a photo and give our backsides a rest from the motorbike saddle.
At the top we were awestruck by the distance that is visible, covering pretty much the whole Toraja valley, with the town of Rantepao spread out beneath us. Paddy fields were dotted with villages and hamlets, the reddish pointed roofs of the traditional Torajan houses poking out between the trees.
The air was fresh and the breeze brisk, and there was a conveniently positioned restaurant where we had a well-deserved lunch of buffalo meat called kerbau pamarassan. We soaked up the amazing view, spotting more and more details as we sat at our table overlooking the valley.
There are places to stay at Batutumonga, but we were just there for a short visit. So, after lunch and a break, we hopped back on our bike to start the journey down.
The way up had taken around two hours, with stops, but the journey down took only half this time, and we were thankful the motorcycle brakes were in good condition.
If you visit Tana Toraja, it is worth going up to Batutumonga; it’s nice to get out into the countryside for a day and the view from the top is simply breathtaking.