Nightfall in Toraja

By: Charlie Kodatt

The remote mountains in Toraja are a sight to behold. To take in emotionally and spiritually. Both day and night.

Because, the wild, sun-and-rain drenched jungles and animal life that surround the area are eventually encapsulated by the night sky, everyday with the setting of the sun. Creating a magical, awe-inspiring and humbling world.

During the day, the farmers, families and kids spend their time tending to their crops and livestock. They work hard to ensure that they have enough food to sustain themselves. And I’m right there, working with them, in pursuit of the same goals. While also tending to our coffee plants and processing of beans.

Then, it begins. The sun starts to set. We gather around freshly-sparked fires, share stories and enjoy each other's company. No TV’s exist. Instead, real, rural life. Where the fresh, clean air at high altitude has a profound impact on the human body, leaving one feeling rejuvenated and refreshed - even after a long day farming on the steep slopes.

Night sky over the Torajan Tongkonan buildings


As the night grows deeper, the temperature drops. The atmosphere becomes crisp. Light rain is usually falling. However, when it’s not raining, the clear visibility of the stars is breathtaking. The constellations that can be seen are a reminder of the vastness of the universe and our place in it. It makes you think how small you are in this cosmic universe we live in. And its a reminder of how amazing the night sky is when not polluted by the almost inescapable city lights back in the States.

The night sky over Toraja, Indonesia

Even more breathtaking is a nighttime lighting strike. Illuminating everything for a second. Shedding intense light on the mountains and jungles in a perspective of white light that is both beautiful and terrifying. Most watch in awe as if they are in a movie theater, as the lightning strikes, marveling at the power of nature.

With tomorrow coming soon, we retire to our homes. Ready to rest and recharge for the new day ahead. And yes, the remote mountains in Toraja may be challenging to live in, but the rewarding experience of the night sky make it all worth it at the end of every day.

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