The terrain on Sumba – Nusa Tenggara is quite different to its neighbouring islands; undulating hills replace the typical volcanic terrain in Indonesia with many areas in the North and East of the island resembling dry savannahs, whilst central highlands are covered in native alang alang grass and the mountains in the South extend down into lush tropical vegetation.
The World Wildlife Fund categorized Sumba as a deciduous forest eco region for its special flora and fauna. Sumba’s isolation has helped preserve one of Indonesia’s most fascinating cultures, particularly in its more remote western half, which is home to about two-thirds of the island’s 400,000 people.
The most famous of Nusa Tenggara’s festivals sees large teams of colorfully clad horse riders engaging in mock battles. Its pattern is similar to that of other ritual warfare that used to take place in Indonesia. It is a part of series of rituals connected with the beginning of planting season, which take place in 4 different areas in February or March each year. In February, Pasola is celebrated in the Kodi and Lamboya area, while in march it revolves around Wanokaka, all in West Sumba.
The Timeless Traditional Villages
Other than the Pasola Festival, Western Sumba also draws attention for its well-preserved traditional village culture. With traditional houses still clustered in hilltops, surrounding large stone tombs of their ancestors. Around the village you will see bare breasted and filed teeth old women and men in traditional head piece and short sarong on a horseback. To explore the area, you can base yourself in the neat little town of Waikabubabak, where the tropical trees and rice paddies contrast with the dry grassland around Waingapu, or the small town of Melolo, 65 km off Waingapu that is surrounded by numerous villages such as Kampung Pasunga that boasts one of Sumba’s most impressive tomb line-ups, or the Umabaru and Pau villages, that have houses, stone tombs, and Ikat weavings.
Stretching across 560 acres of unspoiled natural land including a two and half-kilometer private beach, lies Nihiwatu, a spectacular all-villa resort offers secluded privacy and the ultimate exclusivity. This recently named ‘Best Hotel in The World’ by Travel + Leisure Magazine features a three-villa tree house atop a cliff overlooking the Indian ocean, a day-long spa safari with endless spa treatments, private balés, plunge pools in each of its 33 villas , and views of Nihi Beach Island exploration that includes hidden waterfalls, scenic views of farmed rice paddies, local villages and artisans, freshly harvested coconuts, and picnic lunches, world-class surfing on the famous ‘Occy’s Left’ wave, and so much more.
The ikat woven by the women of eastern coastal regions of Sumba is the most dramatic in Indonesia, with mostly beautiful bright colour with pictorial motifs that depicts tribal wars, fight against the Dutch, and also animals and mythical creatures. Traditionally, ikats are worn on special occasions, and a century ago only members of Sumba’s highest clans could make or wear it. If Ikat is your Sumba highlight, explore the traditional villages on the eastern region, particularly Ngalu and Kaliuda village, where the Ikats are reputedly the best in Indonesia, noted for its rich natural colours. You can also stroll through Prailiu, an Ikat weaving village three kilometers of Waingapu, the largest town in Sumba.
The Pristine Beaches
Due to its You can find idyllic and pristine beaches literally all over Sumba, but the most accessible and popular would be Tarimbang, which would take as long as 3 hours to but will give you one of the best beaches in the world. It is also one of the more popular surf points in Sumba. Closer to Waingapu are Puru Kambera where you can also surf, spot dolphins, snorkel and of course swim and Walakiri where you can find seaweed farmers.
Laiwangi National Park
Laiwangi-Wanggameti National Park represents all forest types in Sumba and also alpine forest that isn’t too common in Sumba. This Park has a species diversity of high value, in particular at an altitude of 800 m above sea level and forms the habitat for wild animals such as the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis fascicularis), wild pig (Sus sp.), Timor python (Phyton timorensis), and red junglefowl (Gallus gallus).
Best time of year to visit: March to June, and October to December.
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