TENTENA. Make a stop on the way to Togian Islands.
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
Some travelers are wondering if it´s worth to stop on the way from Tana Toraja to Togian Islands gateway Ampana. Despite the fact that the route is taking about 14 hours (or more) there is a small travellers pearl hidden on the way. The city of Tentena on the north end of Lake Poso! If you ask us- YES it is absolutely worth to make a stop!
How to reach Tentena/ Lake Poso
FROM TANA TORAJA: You can reach Tentena by car or bus from Tana Toraja, which is about 12 hours of bumpy roads and curvy turns. There is a daily public bus which connects Tana Toraja and the city of Poso. You then can get out in the city of Tentena and continue your route to Ampana later. To get more information about the bus or to charter a private car we recommend to contact your hotel in Rantepao.
FROM AMPANA: If you are going from Ampana to Tentena you can reach lake Poso after 5 hours by private car. If you are taking one of the daily minivans you will only reach the city of Poso and then you will have to continue your ride to Tentena with a different bus or car. We therefore recommend to charter a private car from Ampana to Tentena to reach Tentena the most comfortable way. If you find other travellers for the same route you share the costs of the car (which is somewhere around 1.000.000 IDR). You are also more flexible with your departure time and can adjust it to the Togian Boat Schedule.
DIRECT: If you are planning to go to Tentena only, there is also a small airport in Poso (about 1 hour drive from Tentena) which is connected with a direct flight from Makassar.
Tentena is located directly at Lake Poso (Bahasa Indonesia: Donau Poso). If you arrive in Tentena you might first have the impression that the lake is not very big, crossing a small bridge into the center of the village. In fact: with an area of 323 km² the lake is huge and spans a distance from about 40 kilometers from north to south! So the lake itself is a big attraction. However, there is plenty of other things to discover besides the lake: just rent a motorbike and take a ride.
THE waterfall -Air Tejun Saluopa
You might have seen a lot of beautiful waterfalls during your travels. We don´t claim the one in Tentena to be the most beautiful one in South East Asia BUT you should not miss it. It´s huge and has several levels, at some you can also take a swim. After the first two levels there is much more to see, it´s possible to hike through the jungle and follow the water up to the spring, which takes about one hour. You might see the locals jumping up barefoot over the big stones, but we recommend to take the walks on the left and right side of the fall. At some point it´s hard to follow the water as there is no trail, so if you want to be really sure to reach the spring take a guide.
To get there just rent a motorbike at your hotel, the fall is about 30 minutes away from the center. Just cross the small bridge and follow the big street to the end, where you will see a small football field in front of you.There the street makes a turn right, which you also have to follow. At this point you should find signs which lead you to the waterfall. On the way you cross a handfull of Balinese villages, which again reminds you how diverse Sulawesi is. A lot of people get settled down somewhere else in Indonesia in the course of transmigration programs.
You arrive on a small parking lot with a few huts. The entry fee is 20.000 IDR per Person. After a small trail you will find a big garden with a small restaurant. They serve fried bananas ("pisang goreng") with chilli sauce, Nasi or Mie Goreng, grilled chicken or fish (directly catched from the pond in the garden). It´s a good choice for a rest after the short hike.
If you want to have the waterfall for yourself, we recommend you not to go there on the weekend. But if you have no choice, just go early in the morning. If you want to meet a lot of locals enjoying bathing in the different levels of the waterfall, visit the fall on a Saturday afternoon.
Visiting the LORELINDO national park
This national park is famous for its megaliths, which are still a big myth. Till now, nobody knows who made them and what they were for. It´s not really possible to visit the national park within a day. To get there from Tentena takes a couple of hours and the roads are not in a good condition. You can find guides for the national park in Tentena, they offer 2 or 3 day tours.
A cheeper option might be to visit the villages in the national park (for example Gintu), we heard there are a few homestay options.
This might be also an attraction for some of you. We just mention it shortly: You can find bats, fruit bats or gold fish if you wish to try!
Accommodation in Tentena
Tentena has a lot of hotels, losmen and homestays. Here are our favorite three:
Dolidi Ndano Towale for an extraordinary stay with purpose.
"Dolidi Ndano" means „a wonderful place at the lake“ and YES, it is. Herson, Eef and their families created a true paradise at the lake. Not only for tourists, primarily for a group of children they take care of. It is directly located at the lake, about 20 minutes outside of Tentena. The three bungalows, which offers 5 separated rooms, are big and equipped with very nice bathrooms (western toilet and shower). There is also a dorm for a lower budget with shared bathroom. Not only the lake view is quite stunning, also is their neat garden.
The area is divided in the hotel and an orphanage, where about 20 children are living. The NGO, which is sponsored by donations and the income from the hotel, aim to educate and take care of children from the rural areas around Lake Poso.
So not only that it is a great, peaceful place to stay in Tentena, you also support the project with your stay. In their free time the children are happy to chat with any visitor, just ask Eef or Herson to introduce you to the children. It´s also great fun to join a volleyball game or the karaoke night with the kids. In case you want to be active, there is the possibility to volunteer in the foundation, which means you will stay for minimum 6 weeks and help with the education of the kids. For details please contact Dolidi Ndano directly.
The NGO has big success, already 4 children attending university and two are starting to work for an Indonesian airline. At our last visit Eef told us they even want to build a small station for medical treatment which is run by volunteer doctors. If you want to know more about the work of the NGO you can join for Eef´s Newsletter, in which he informs about their aims, their success and also the problems they are facing.
For Bookings please contact DOLIDI NDANO TOWALE
via Email firstname.lastname@example.org or Phone +62 81245239357.
Look up this short youtube- video, in which Herson explains by himself what the foundation is all about https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TNW1XNkAec.
Losmen Victoria for budget and center close stay.
If you don´t want to stay outside Tentena, the Losman "VICTORIA" is a good choice. It´s a basic accommodation, you will find a bed and an Indonesian bathroom in the standard rooms. The staff is very nice and incredibly helpful, which will give you a warm homestay feeling.
For Bookings, you find all the contact details on the
Bamboo House for an extraordinary AirBnB stay.
The two big beautiful bamboo buildings, located directly at the lake, offer two rooms and one big restaurant with a long jetty. Connected to the restaurant you will also find a big library and a community radio station as this is also a social business. Susanti takes care of the NGO "Mosin Tuwu Institute" which supports local woman and children in education and producing/ selling local products for a small income. Unfortunately there is not any English information about the work of this institute. So you have to go there and ask the people. It´s more a homestay than a hotel, as Susanti offers two rooms in her house which you can book through AirBNB. We would recommend you to book the bigger room for about 22 Euro, because its nice equipped and comes with an own private balcony with lake view.
If you don´t sleep there it´s also worth visiting for a very good ice tea, dinner, chilling at the lake or chat with Susanti about her projects. If you feel like shopping, they have a tiny but awesome collection of local products produced within the project like biological coffee, bark- bags, rottan baskets, or upcycled products. For Bookings via AirBnB follow this link.