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Long-Distance Walks with Mark Moxon

Bada Valley: Introduction

If you've ever fancied yourself as a bit of an Indiana Jones, then a trek through the Bada Valley has to be one of the most amazing ways to indulge your fantasy. Central Sulawesi is bound to become more and more touristy and gradually the Bada Valley will open up to more visitors, but when I visited the area in hardly any Westerners bothered to make the effort, and it's still very much off the beaten track.

The Bada Valley is incredible. Not only is it home to an Indonesian community that seems to exist in a little world of its own, it's also dotted with the most bizarre megaliths (huge stone statues). They sit there in paddy fields while farmers grow rice around them; the megaliths of Bada are all but ignored by the locals.

Nobody knows how they got there, who built them or why they bothered, and to cap it all they're made out of a kind of stone that can't be found locally. The designs are haunting, and if anything they're reminiscent of the famous statues on Easter Island. Anyone coming here for evidence of aliens landing and creating images of themselves in rock is in for a treat; some of them really do look like spacemen.

The walking itself is challenging, if only because there don't seem to be any maps of the area; the route we took was based on a hand-copied map I made from the wall of our hotel, and it proved to be almost totally useless. We even ended up sleeping in the rainforest one night – an interesting experience if you've never tried it – and to cap it all I ended the walk with severe food poisoning. But who cares? I got to see the megaliths of Bada, and that's something I'll remember for the rest of my life, as will anyone who puts in the effort to track them down.

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