On longer dive trips we have always tried to fit in
days for relaxation in our dive programme, one day off for every three
days of diving. So in between visits to the coral reefs we were busy
taking in the locals and their countryside.
Sulawesi seems to be at the top what endemic species are concerned – even
Borneo and Sumatra fold. F.inst. 62% of Sulawesi’s mammals and 27% of all
birds are endemic.
Macaques and Tarsiers
One of our trips went to the rain forest nature reserve Tangkoko-Duasudara.
Even the road was an experience – very beautiful nature but a body belt is
Apart from malaria mosquitos the reserve also houses a tiny tick
capable of finding its way to your most sensitive bodyparts to lay
So we were dressed up almost as mummies in a cloud of insect
repellents when we set off with a team of local rangers to search for the
indigenous black macaque and the small tarsier, tarsies spectrum. The
macaques are easier to spot during twilight hours when they search for
We did see something that resembled monkeys jumping from tree top to tree
top in the very, very tall fig trees but it was difficult to tell – and
impossible to photograph.
A Nocturnal Primate
We avenged ourselves after nightfall on a small tarsier, no
more than 10 cm in body length. The tarsier is nocturnal and has very
large, very light-sensitive eyes. No sooner had our ranger found
one that inadvertently had taken refuge in a small tree, before we quickly
surrounded it and set our cameras on auto-flash.
Most likely the poor little bugger is still clinging to its tree, now
blind as a bat, wondering what happened. But it sure was, oh, so cute.
Villages of the Highlands
Many villages in the region have specialized in what they do for
a living, f.inst. peanut farming or floriculture. In the peanut village of
Kawangkoang they had big, smiling peanuts on most of the store fronts and
had even erected a statue of a giant peanut in the town square.
The village of Woloan was busy with "knocked down and delivered" wooden houses. Take a stroll down the thoroughfare and have a look at the
various models and designs. Point to the house you want and they will
dismantle it and put it up again for you whereever you want. Prices ranged from 1,000 to 10,000 US dollars including delivery in the Manado/Bitung
Another village, Pulitan, was apparently situated in a place where the
clay was of particularly high quality and everybody was busy making pots,
urns and vases in all shapes and sizes.
Volcanoes and Markets
We spent a day climbing one of the many active volcanoes, Mount Mahawu,
and visit the local market at Tomohon.
Part of the market was dedicated to foods including the infamous dogs and
rats. We were a bit surprised when we learned that dogmeat is actually a
delicacy only consumed at special occasions such as weddings. And no, it’s
not the neighbour’s dog suddenly gone missing but purpose bred ones.
This information didn’t persuade us to try it out though. Neither did the
roasted rats leave our mouths watering even though a clever detail is that
you can use the rat’s tail as a toothpick after you've finished your meal.