Poso Lake: Journeying to the Heart of Central Sulawesi
Abandoned by tourism during a period of religious violence that started in 1998 and then flared up again in 2006, Central Sulawesi is now back on the travel itinerary as a safe place to visit.
Located, as the name suggests, in the centre of Sulawesi, it is a beautifully mountainous and relatively untouched region bordered by the provinces of Gorontalo to the north, West Sulawesi, South Sulawesi and South East Sulawesi to the south.
The province also includes the Togian Islands in the Gulf of Tomini and the Banggai and Bowokan island groups in the Gulf of Tolo. Coral reefs, rainforest, waterfalls and deep inland lakes make Central Sulawesi a destination ripe for the intrepid adventure traveler.
One of the most enchanting parts of Central Sulawesi that is still rarely visited by tourists is Poso Lake, Indonesia’s third largest – an enormous, clear body of fresh water surrounded by pristine forests and wild terrain.
Covering an area of over 320 km2 and reaching an average depth of 450m, Poso Lake is 495m above sea level, making evenings there pleasantly cool without being cold. Surrounded by mountains on all sides with early morning mists shrouding the lake’s still waters, it is a place of truly captivating beauty.
The region also has an abundance of wildlife, with the lake containing a number of rare fish species, including the Anguilla marmorata eel, which migrates between the lake and the sea. There are also 11 species of endemic lake fish, including the bunting ricefish – a species that is highly endangered. A large number of endemic freshwater snails, shrimp and crabs can also be found here.
Around the lake’s edge there are some quaint towns and settlement that are well worth exploring, like the lakeside town of Pendolo, situated at the southern end of the lake where your clients can enjoy some picturesque walks and views. Only 15 kilometers from the town clients can visit Bancea Park, home to a beautiful orchid garden.
The town of Tentena is another option, and not far out of town hidden in the jungle is the stunning seven-tiered Saluopa Waterfall. Tentena is also the jumping off point for trips into Lore Lindu National Park, a place filled with mysterious megaliths and rich flora and fauna.
The national park and forests surrounding the lake can sometimes provide rare sightings of the anoa, or dwarf buffalo, and the babirusa, which means literally, ‘pigdeer’ – a ruminant pig. These two endangered species are just a few of the amazing animals to be found only on the island of Sulawesi.
Getting to Lake Poso is not as difficult as one might expect. The closest airport is in Poso, the administrative capital of Poso Regency on the north-eastern coast of Central Sulawesi, with flights available from Makassar daily.
For the more adventurous it’s possible to fly to Palu from Jakarta or Manado and rent a car – or take public transport to Poso Lake. It’s even possible to get there by daily bus from Makassar or Rantepao, Tana Toraja, but be prepared for a long and sometimes uncomfortable journey.
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