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Sumba Island - n.w photo

Sumba is big. Damn big. Much bigger than you’d imagine on first sight. Since there are two large populated areas, around the two airports, it makes sense to make a circuit of the island. In general, you’d do this by hiring a moped, but on Sumba this too is different: hiring any motor vehicle is difficult, because access is restricted. It’s worth asking around at your hotel.

I’d only recommend Sumba to seasoned travelers. Journeys from one place to the next are often long and uncomfortable, and accessing remote waterfalls is sometimes very difficult, requiring you to climb down steep rocky slopes without any kind of rope or harness, while the ground is often very slippery and there’s nothing to grab hold of.

If you want to visit the villages, where you can get to know the unique customs of the Marapu, then it’s essential that you get a local, English-speaking guide, as otherwise it’s difficult to figure out what anything means or why it’s there. Local guides aren’t so easy to find, but their number is increasing. Given the distances between locations and the difficulties of travel, give yourself plenty of time here. This isn’t one of those 3-4-day destinations. Or at least, not unless your only plan is to lie on the beach all day and do nothing. Then you’ll be fine. :) (2018)


Practicals

Background

Destination in brief

Sumba is an Indonesian island in the Indian Ocean south of the better-known Flores and Komodo islands, 250 kilometers east of Bali. Sumba Island is part of the Lesser Sunda island.

Size: 11,060 km² (4,270.1 mi²) - twice the size of Bali

Population (in 2020): 760,000

Religions: There are many different religions and beliefs on the island. Many Christian (Protestant or Catholic) churches can be seen. Islam, as in Indonesia in general, is present here, but much less so than on other islands. Christians make up the majority of 80% of the population (three-quarters Protestant, one-quarter Catholic), making it a unique Indonesian island.

Why is it worth a visit?
Traditional villages with interesting looking huts, memorable, bizarre funeral ceremonies, colorful markets, beautiful beaches, amiable locals, and weavers are making beautiful (ikat) clothes and scarves.  The Ikat of Sumba is the most valuable and best quality with unique motifs all over Indonesia.

You have to visit Sumba before it is becoming such a commercial tourist destination as Bali. Sumba is somehow like Bali when it was not yet dominated by mass tourism.

Geography

Geographically Sumba island is unique in Indonesia because there are no volcanoes on it. Nevertheless, the landscape is varied: many hilly countrysides, dry savannah terrain in the north and east, untouched forests in the south, humid tropical vegetation.

Climate

The dry season is between May and October.  The rainy period is from November to April.  The monsoon period lasts three months in the eastern part of the island and five months in the western region.
The optimal timing for nature lovers could be from April to July.

Attractions

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