The picturesque green paddy fields and hills of Belae, South Sulawesi may strike awe in many first time visitors, but they are not even the small village’s main attractions.
The main forces of gravity for tourists here are now the vertical and horizontal caves, dubbed Kalibbong and Leang, respectively.
Other than uniquely beautiful, they are also believed to have been home to prehistoric humans and ancestors of the South Sulawesi people.
Kalibbong Aloa, for example, is one of the vertical caves with not only a breathtaking interior but challenging adventures for the thrill seekers.
Visitors can view pictures of human handprints, wild boars, fish and other prehistoric human activities in the interiors of Leang Sakapao, Leang Buloribba, Leang Kajuara, Leang Pattennung, Leang Kassi, Leang Lompoa and Leang Lambuto caves.
And there is still so much more to explore since the karst walls still hold many secrets yet to be uncovered. Located in the province’s Pangkajene Islands, the village is part of the 43,750-hectare Bantimurung-Bulusaraung National Park that stretches from Maros regency to Pangkajene Islands regency.
Four other districts in Maros regency -- Camba, Cenrana, Simbang and Bantimurung -- are included in the national park area.
Nine districts included in the park area are made up of farms and residential areas that have been inhabited for many years.
Karst formations line both sides of the road from Maros city to Bantimurung up to Pangkajene Islands regency. The formations have various shapes, but most stand tall and steep at a 90 degree angle.
Visitors planning a trip can contact the Organizer of Agro and Karst Ecotourism Forum (EWAKO) before exploring the area.
How to get there
Belae is a one-hour drive from Makassar city or about 45 minutes from Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport. One can travel to the reserve by car or public transportation such as the pete-pete minivans.
Where to stay
Some locals have turned their houses into homestays with adequate facilities.
What to eat
For local delicacies, such as the must-try Sop Saudara (sibling soup) and Sop Kikil (beef rind soup), drop by Rumah Makan Minasa Te'ne restaurant in Jl. Cempaka No. 1.