Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Trip To The World's Third Largest Atoll, Part 1

See the previous photo I posted. Here's what ensued after I saw the view:

"Oh my God, the sea is so blue!"

That was what we -- 13 people who came from various places across Indonesia -- kept screaming along the way from Pamatata Port, the ferry port in Selayar island, to Pattumbukan port, the small wooden boat port that is also in the island. The one-hour car ride between Pamatata and Pattumbukan provided us with such beautiful view that we forgot the two-hour ferry ride we just went through.

Little did we know that it was just the beginning of even more beautiful view that we would see in Takabonerate National Park.

Yes, we went to Takabonerate National Park, a marine park that include Takabonerate atoll. Located on the southern offshore of Sulawesi island's 'left leg', Takabonerate is the world's third largest atoll after Kwajifein atoll in the Marshall Island and the Suvadiva atoll in Maldives.   

How To Get There:

Picture from

1. Go to Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi.
2. From Makassar, take a car ride to either Bulukumba (Leppe'e port) or Bira (Bira port). We chose to go to Bira, because well, we want to explore the small islands near Bira before hopping on to the ferry. Makassar-Bira is around 4-5 hours by car. The driver, who is a local, advised us to depart before dark because we would pass Jeneponto, an area that he deemed as 'not safe'.
3. Take the ferry ride (2 hours, if the sea is calm) between Bira and Selayar to reach Pamatata port
4. Go to Pattumbukan port (one hour car ride from Pamatata port)
5. Another boat ride (also around 5 hours, if the sea is calm) to Tinabo island, which is the only island that has resort facility in the national park.

It was such a long journey to reach the place. But it was a journey worth to do.

Now, let's go back to how we started the trip. We were a group of 13 people coming from various backgrounds -- 6 from Jakarta, 1 from Solo, 4 from Samarinda and 2 from Makassar. Before this trip, we had never gone tripping together, let alone know each other.

So how did we meet?

Well, Untung & Vissia are the sweet couple behind the share-all-cost trip. Untung was Aneen's high school friend. I was Aneen's university friend. Vissia works at the same company with Tini, Tini was Agnes's high school friend. Untung usually goes tripping with Sofyan. Vissia posted the trip plan in an Indonesian backpacker forum and four people from Samarinda (Dwi, Ria, Ina and Tiwi) and two from Makassar (Firman and Arif) responded to the trip plan.

25 May 2014

The six Jakartans and one Solonese met at Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport, Makassar at 10 a.m. on May 25. While waiting for the other trip members who would touch down at Makassar at 5 p.m., we decided to have a quick tour to Rammang Rammang, an area of karst hills in Maros. It is similar like Gunung Kidul, but the hills are in a circle formation, giving a sense of an enclosure. 

Here are some photos:

 Panorama of Rammang Rammang

Another view of Rammang Rammang

Yours truly, posing like a Vietnamese in Ha Long Bay, hahaha

Our next destination was Bira, which was around 5-6 hours from Makassar by car. Before going there, we went back to the airport and BTP to pick up the other trip members and then the driver hit the pedal like he was being chased by a pack of hungry wolves. He also put on a very loud house music version of Dangdut Pantura to keep himself awake. The song of "Berondong Tua" would definitely be the soundtrack of this trip.

"To reach Bira from Makassar, we need to pass Jeneponto and the area is not safe enough at night. We need to pass Jeneponto before 9 p.m.," the driver said.

We arrived safe and sound in Bira just several minutes past midnight. The seven people from Jakarta and Solo (heretofore will be called as 'the older ones') checked in at a local inn, while the younger ones (they're still in their 20s) set up their tents.   

26 May 2014

Today's agenda was island hopping and snorkeling. But before that, we had breakfast at Amatoa Resort, which is situated near our inn. Then we went to Kambing island (for snorkeling) and Liukang island (for lunch). Firman and Arif skipped this part of the trip as they preferred to lounge in their tent in Bara beach.

I wanted to show you how blue the color of the ocean was. 

 Clown fishes near Kambing island

The waves and currents were very strong in this area at the moment of our arrival. I was a bit afraid to jump into the sea, but I just couldn't resist the blue color of the ocean. The visibility was as high as a crystal, even if you choose to stay in the boat you can still see the sea bottom.

We touched down Liukang island for lunch. Then we walked to the nearby village because some wanted to buy the woven fabric made by the locals.

Panorama of Liukang island

A view of the dock

Dried fishes along the dock

Dried octopus in Liukang island

The weavers

Most houses are on stilts. The lower area are communal spaces, where they weave the fabric, dry the catch of the day and socialize with the neighbors.

From Liukang island, we went back to Bira. Some took a bath and rested, while me, Vissia, Aneen and Sofyan walked to Bara beach to see how the younger ones survived in their tents.

Sand pattern in Bira beach

Bira beach, when the tide is low. One of the cottages above is our inn.

We closed the day with dinner at D'Perahu restaurant. We may be backpackers who stayed at humble inns, but we splurged on the food :).

27 May 2014

Bira port was around 1 or 2 kilometers away from our inn. We were not enthusiastic on the idea of carrying our backpacks to the port, but luckily we found pete-pete (a public minivan). The following photos chronicled our journey from Bira to Selayar's Pamatata port to Pattumbukan port.

 We were crammed inside the public minivan, heading to Bira port

We are a big family of Deuter backpacks :D. My Futura 32 (inside the blue rain cover) looks so tiny compared to Firman's (the  largest backpack in the photo). Firman's backpack weighed at 30 kg (he carried tent, sleeping bag and snorkeling gears), while mine was only 9.5 kg (as of Soekarno-Hatta International Airport).

The happy-go-lucky 13 people met up with Daeng Zul (far right), who was supposed to join us but had to cancel on the last minute.

Kids standing near the ledge in the ferry

Selayar island. I never got tired seeing the blue.

The Pertamina gas station in Selayar only opens two hours every day (09:00 - 11:00), and the queue is too overwhelming. People resort to the ones owned by locals (the price is more expensive, of course).

 Fishermen in Pattumbukan port

The activity of loading and unloading in Pattumbukan port

We left Pattumbukan port at around 4 p.m. Not long after we set sail, it was raining and the waves became rough to go through. I swallowed one of those anti-motion sickness pills and went to a deep slumber. I woke up from time to time, and even saw the red sun slowly and gracefully setting behind the boat, but I was too sleepy to take the photo.

After the rain stopped, the waves became a bit easier to handle. The night sky in the middle of the sea was very dark, we could see the stars above and were mesmerized by the amazing milky way. One by one, we all fell asleep. 

We arrived in Tinabo island at around 10 p.m., the older ones checked in into the room while the younger ones set up their tents.

Next post: Takabonerate :)

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