What is this all about
This will be yet another adventurous trip to see a total solar eclipse and to enjoy other sights and experiences that the place where it happens to be visible offers. This time the place is Sulawesi island in the far-away Indonesia.
It was only a couple of weeks after we had come back from our previous trip to Svalbard in 2015 when people started to inquire about the next trip. There was no doubt, there would be a trip, but there were no plans whatsoever about it yet. Still people started to apply not knowing where this trip would take them and within two weeks there were 10 would-be ‘eclipsers’ when the trip was never meant for more than 8.
Managing more than 8 people is a big deal, but in the summer of 2015 it was decided to try going as a bigger group of 12 people (in 3 cars). The alternative was to split in 2 separate groups since everyone wanted to go. So the team this year is – Agnese, Anders, Andra, Dace, Gunita, Ilgonis, Imants, Ināra, Kārlis, Normunds, Rūdolfs and Vitolds. Exactly half of us have participated in at least 1 eclipse trip before and the other half will be the first-timers.
While Sulawesi (formerly called Celebes) is part of the big Indonesia, it still seems to be quite a remote place judging from the information and maps available on internet as well as the people’s ability to speak English. In that sense this will be one of the most challenging and adventurous eclipse trips we have had. You can read about the others in the relevant sites: 2008 – 2009 – 2012 – 2013 – 2015
The Solar eclipse
The eclipse will happen on 9th of March and the totality (that’s when the Sun is fully covered by the Moon) will be observable in several Indonesian islands. March is the first month after the end of the rainy season in Indonesia, but it is not part of the dry season yet. To avoid the potential rain and the clouds we are going as far east in Sulawesi as we can get. The totality of the eclipse in our location will start at 8:42am local time and finish at 8:45am lasting full 3 minutes.
To the right there is a map of the eclipse visibility. The light blue circle marks partial eclipse. The black dot in the centre marks total eclipse. The time in the animation is UTC.
For some more information go here:
- NASA eclipse website
- Interactive Google map with eclipse visibility times, length and coordinates.
We will land on the Sulawesi island in one of its biggest cities – Makassar by a local flight from the capital Jakarta. In Indonesia ‘a local flight’ means something similar to a local flight in US – it can take several hours. In comparison you can cross all the Europe in about 3 hours…
Most of us will leave home on 28th of February and arrive very early on 1st of March. Agnese will head out a week earlier to visit abroad friends on the way, and Anders will join everyone in Makassar a day later. Once all together we will rent 3 cars and head North visiting lake near Sengkang where people are building houses on water, Tana Toraja region with very peculiar traditions for burying people after their death, Lore Lindu national park where we hope to spot one of the smallest primates in the world – a tarsier. After that we will turn East and follow the road to as far East as it can take us stopping in the Luwuk town on our way. Then the fingers will be kept crossed for the clouds and rain to stay back and a splendid total solar eclipse in a blue sky. We won’t mind the slightest if you keep your fingers crossed for us as well
After experiencing the eclipse we will head back to West and stop in Ampana from where a ferry will take us to Togian islands. No internet, some generated electricity, white sand, sea, snorkeling, palms, hammocks and fresh coconuts – a well earned rest after the long road so far. We will stay here 3 days even though it’s said to be the absolute minimum one should spend here. Oh, well, we’ll come back some day later for more time if we really like it there
Then back on the mainland – that’s if Sulawesi island can be called so – and down to Makassar where we’ll get on a flight to Jakarta. We will spend a day here to see what the capital of Indonesia can offer and then head back home except for Anders who will do some additional exploring in this corner of the world. The others will be back on the evening of 19th of March.