One of Indonesia's largest but least explored islands, Sulawesi is an extraordinary outcrop, a bizarre sprawling shape surrounded by brilliant blue waters and covered in broad forests and odd geological marvels.
The island has a rich cultural heritage as well, and Tana Toraja is a good place to find it. Nestled at the base of thick jungle and rice paddies, surrounded by towers of limestone, Tana Toraja is home to sleepy villages with distinctive boat-shaped roofs.
Many people visit during July and August, the ‘funeral season'. The funeral ceremonies may appear macabre but they bring together families who may have dispersed as far even as Australia.
The Toraja believe that the souls of the animals so vitally important to their agrarian society should follow them into the afterlife. Buffalo and pigs are thus sacrificed en masse, dances are performed and food and wine is presented to all.
High-class Toraja are entombed in caves or have their coffins hung from the steep-sided cliffs, guarded by tau tau, life-sized wooden effigies carved in their image. Attending a ceremony is like living out the pages of a National Geographic.