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North Sulawesi

"The town of Manado", wrote the well-known English zoologist Alfred Russel Wallace after a visit to the area in 1859, "is one of the most beautiful places in the East. It looks like a big garden in which rows of villas are built. Wide paths in between are streets, which are usually squared. Good roads split up in several directions to the hinterlands, with some rural houses, nice little gardens and rich plantations, jungle and fruit trees. In the west and south the area is mountainous, with groups of volcanic peaks with a height between 1800 and 2100 meters, which form high and picturesque backgrounds in the landscape... I had heard a lot about the beauty of this country, but reality has surpassed my expectations by far."

Danau Limboto and old fortresses

Gorontalo, the second biggest city in North Sulawesi, is halfway the southern coast of Sulawesi's northern peninsula, at the eastern banks of Danau Limboto, where the lake and three rivers mouth into the sea. In contrary to most cities in eastern Indonesia, Gorontalo escaped the bombardments of the allied forces during the Second World War and remained it's architecture and atmosphere of pre-war Indonesia.
The population is strongly islamic and is called for prayer very early in the morning from the mosque.Use this early wake up to walk through the lanes with old trees and to have a look at the decorative colonial architecture of the harbor. You can best walk to the harbor or take a bendi; the trip doesn't cost much after some bargaining.
There are still about fifty houses in colonial style in Gorontalo. Some of these Dutch houses are damaged in time, but several are in very good condition. Two of them are located along Jl. A. Yani, near the post office. Gorontalo is rarely visited by tourists. Sometimes you are greeted with 'Belanda Belanda' (Dutch person), together with the more common 'Hello mister!', even if you are a woman.
in the downtown area there are shops along Jl. Jendral Suprapto; a number of them is specialised in the local krawang-embroidery, where Gorontalo is known for. Try Toko Matahari or Toko Palapa, and demand a big discount before buying anything. Visit Pasar Jajan in the evening to buy fruit or local snacks. Try a local snack known as milu siram, a tastefull fish boullion with corn (milu), lemon and fresh coconut.

Danau Limboto

In the recent years, the surface of Danau Limboto is lowered by about five meters due to erosion; the maximum depth is less than two meters, where it was 15 meters deep in the 1970's. Fishing is still done here, but big pieces of dried up banks are used as meadows. The most important crops are rice, corn and vegetables.
The location with the best view over the lake is Benteng Otanaha, just over eight kilometers from the city. The fortress, built in 1525, was being restaurated in the early 1980's. Take a bemo to Batudaa or to Dembe and ask to get out along the road towards Benteng Otanaha.

It's a short trip from the main road to the 353 steps which lead to the fortress. A number on every fifth step keeps up the pace and there are several places to take a rest. Visit the fortress in the early morning or the late afternoon to avoid a sunstroke. The view from the fortress is splendid; you have a wide view over Danau Lomboto and another nearby fortress.
The road which runs from the old fortress along the southern edge of the lake, offers far views as well. Several kilometers beyond the fortress you reach an old building along a pier. This is what remained from the Catalina passenger terminal which served the area in the 1950's.

Dumoga-Bone via a back entrance

About 15 kilometers east of Gorontalo, along a paved road, the hot water pool of Lombongo marks the entrance to the Dumoga-Bone national park. During the weekends there is a bemo-service to the overcrowded swimming pool; during weekdays there is not a single person, but the bemo-service is also halted. Take a bemo to Pasar Minggu, about 2,5 kilometer before the swimming pool. Then it's 1,5 kilometer to the office of the rangers. Ask the bemo driver to stop there.
However the official entrance of the park is located 50 kilometers towards the west, this 'back door' is a perfectly legal entry point on the one condition that you report to the rangers and take one of them as your guide.
There are several falls in the park. There is a big chance of seeing animals during your three-hour walk, especially in the early morning and at the end of the afternoon; with a little luck you can even see a rhino, babiroussa or wild pigs. This is a nice one-day trip. For longer trips you need a tent, food and good legs as well.

To the sea

The busy seaport of Gorontalo is located along the eastern part of Teluk Gorontalo, several kilometers outside the city. The smaller fishing boats are across the bay. Early in the morning, the catch is sold there as well and brought to the city on bikes in rattan baskets.
Just beyond the fish market the road turns around a rock and takes you to the nearby Lahilote, a village with the only sandy beach near the city. This beach is not special and you are probably watched by the local people as well. You can better take the 'high' road, just before Lahilote and which offers a view over the sea. In the remote distance, you can see fishermen setting their nets. In the shallow waters near the coast, the same is done, but then swimming instead of by boat.
A paved road leads towards the east to the harbor area and followd the southern coast for about 20 kilometers and offers views wity many boats. Before the village of Oluhuta is a small, protected bay, where snorkling or swimming is a pleasure.
From Oluhuta the road runs inland for about eight kilometers, ascends over 200 meters and gives a view over very deep gorges which were cleared and planted with peanuts: the perfect crop for this dry climate.
The road reaches shore once again and then runs to Bilungala, the capital of this subdistrict. 35 kilometers ahead you will reachTaludaa, located in a wealthy clove area. There is a bemo-service to Bilungala, but connections with Taludaa are rare. During the dry season there are jeeps along the coastal road towards the goldmine area of Ratatotok, which is connected with Manado by a paved road.

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