Sumba – Indonesia 2021

October 2021.
After the eventful return from Kalimantan to Java, I stayed in Surabaya for a few days and then took a week off work to travel to Sumba.

Sumba is an island in the province of East Nusa Tenggara.

It’s a wild island with very few services. Most people visit the island with a tour company, which brings you back and forth between the attractions (all of them nature-related) and one of the two main cities, Tambolaka in the west or Waingapu, in the east.

I was looking to get on a tour, shop around, and also looking get a scooter to drive around after the tour, as you know if you read this blog, I am not into tours while looking for a scooter in Waingapu. I was quite happy when I found out these guys were renting a camping-ready truck.

This had me way more excited about this trip!

I flew from Java to Tambolaka. After landing, I was able to find a scooter from a lady that looked like she rented me her friend’s bike, but whatever, all good for me!

We drove off to a beach nearby to chill for the rest of the afternoon, Pantai Kawona Bumi Indah Sien Lubalu, a nice wild beach not too far from the city, less than 10km.

The next day we got delivery of the truck.

And off we went, first stop was probably the most touristic place this island has to offer. Danau Waikuri, is an amazing lagoon that is almost closed off from the sea but the water is able to crawl in from a small opening in the rocks, making it a very calm and quiet lagoon.

From above it looks like this:

The water is beautiful.

At the bottom of this image you can see a jumping platform:

This is where my trip was modified. This is the first place we stopped. I decided to jump off the platform, as I saw other people do it, I also saw people come up from the rocks on the side of the platform, instead of going across to get back up and all the way around to get back to the platform.

What no one told me is that there were jellyfish on that side of the platform, which the locals seem immune to. Anyway, I got stung. I won’t go into many details here because it gets quite nasty to look at but if you want you can click here to see more of it 🙂

After swimming around the lagoon for a while, we had to keep moving, the jellyfish sting was getting annoying.

It feels like a burn and it gets worst as time goes by. I had to drive the truck a few hours to a few stops, but this ordeal slowed us down and I had to stop in a clinic to get checked up and have some medicine. With the time wasted we couldn’t make it to other places we plan to go to.

We stopped at the clinic in Kodi, about one hour later.

The staff were really helpful and gave me lots of medicine for free, which was very nice of them. Had to carry on.

I had an idea of the places I wanted to see around the island but the plan was to sleep in the tent on top of the truck, it was always a gamble to know if we could sleep wherever we were going.

That evening we ended up at Pantai Mbawana, there was a nice spot at the top of the stairs that lead you down to the beach, no one was there and it was nice and flat.

We got there at dawn, but it looked good enough. After the sun went down and darkness came, the view above us was unreal.

The next morning this was the view from the tent.

And here is where we were:

The empty, wild beach…

from the sky:

After a few hours chilling there we moved on to the next destination, I am blindly following google maps and we got on a road in bad condition but we went through many local villages, where people don’t often see foreigners driving by, they were shocked and happy to see us, especially the kids. It was quite a fun drive.

We stopped to eat some snacks and water and some kids caught up to us, this image I took sums up all their emotions seeing me trying to take pictures of them.

The were some beautiful hills around there too:

By the end of it, they were getting less shocked haha…

We stopped on the main road for lunch. This place was great. Finding food outside the “cities” is a challenge. Be prepared if you are going to do this. Buy food ahead of time for your meals if you are not staying in a city.

Cooking some leaves…

After lunch on the main road that crosses the island, we got to our next spot, a waterfall surrounded by rice fields.

Impressive spot.

You can swim in there, the water is a bit cold but it’s quite nice to swim in such a place.

The truck parked nearby:

By that evening my sting was really getting annoying and decided to drive to a resort, Rua Beach Resort Sumba, for the night, I couldn’t sleep in the tent again at this point.

Rua beach was just a small quiet beach, not much to photograph. Sunset was nice, but I was resting, so I only took a cell photo.

I woke up for sunrise but it was cloudy.

The next stop was Pantai Watu Bella, an extremely beautiful white sand beach nestled behind a traditional Sumbese village.

You can see the village here :

You can park there and walk to the beach, there’s also plenty of space to camp out there and the locals will welcome you to, for a little amount of money of course.

The timing was not good for us to sleep there since it was still morning and we had other plans.

Amazing beach though.

Next stop, Lapopu Waterfall. If you’re driving, be warned, that the road to get to that waterfall is steep and rocky. The truck did fine but I wouldn’t risk it with a non-4wd car or a normal scooter.

The waterfall itself was very nice.

The bad thing about this place is the ridiculous price, and how they force you to use a useless guide.

The price for locals is 5000 IDR. Fine, for foreigners, 150 000 IDR. If you go on a day that is a holiday, it’s even worse. 7500 IDR for locals and 225 000 IDR for foreigners.

Yes, I get it, they want to get more money from foreigners in many places but this is just ridiculous. Makes you feel like a fuckin idiot for paying 30 TIMES the price of locals. Let that sync in, THIRTY times the local price, what in the world can possibly make someone think that thirty times more expensive for a foreigner is a good idea. It’s not about the money, it’s still not much money for most travelers it’s about making you feel like a total idiot for even being there.

And then the guide has the nerve to ask for a tip, my particular guide didn’t say a single word on the way there or back and the walk is easy and obvious. I’ve been around the block in SEA and this is by far the most ridiculous money-grabbing natural attractionI have been to.

I guess this is due to the luxury, “Nihi Sumba” resort that is nearby that waterfall.

But in the end, it was still a great place to hang out/swim, and take some photos. Just beware you’ll get abused. 🙂

Next, it was time to find a place to park and sleep. I looked up the map and decided to drive down to Pantai Lailiang.

Luckily it was a great decision, the beach was perfect for camping and no one was around, as in most of those places,.

Good sunset, didn’t take the camera out but the cellphone did great:

Pure wilderness:

Woke up to a cloudy sky and the best view you can get on the throne.

Next, it was time to for a big drive to the east of the island.

Here’s one of the many villages along the way, you can see it’s the same style as the traditional one but with more modern materials, and those are tombs in the middle of the village, it’s a local tradition to have the deaths around them it seems, there was that kind of tombs around most of the villages.

The road was pretty nice:

On the way to the Waigapu area, we stopped at Bukit Wairinding, Bukit means hills, and these hills are all green during the rainy season, better time to go at that time if you want to see that. But it was still pretty to look at this way:

This side of the island is much dryer than the west. We kept driving to our park and sleep destination, Pantai Walakiri. Again I had no idea if we could find a spot to sleep.

But we did, we had to go through someone’s backyard, and again very welcoming, didn’t even ask for money. And this was the spot:

Pantai Walakiri is known for its dancing trees as they are called, they are small mangrove trees that look very photogenic.

A little underwhelming when you look at it from afar, but when you isolate a three or 2, it becomes something else.

Overall view:

Later, with a camera and proper composition:

I wasn’t satisfied with the sunset, so I woke up for sunrise and went back for more:

After that, it was time to go check out one of the main attractions of the area, Air Terjun Wai Marang, a waterfall.

After a bit of a drive, we go to what looked like the entry of the trail, but no one was around to tell us where to go:

We just went in and after a 30 minutes walk, we found it:

Obviously, the “waterfall” part isn’t the attraction, the amazing blue lagoon with the rock formation around it is.

Again, no one was there, sure it was during the pandemic, but if you self-drive you’ll have a lot of these spots for yourself if you go at the right time.

It was amazing to swim there and float around in that beautiful water.

Afterward, we went back to Waigapu and booked a hotel room, the rent reservation was for 5 of the 7 days, but we kept the truck.

This pool was quite welcomed, also included a normal bed and shower haha.

The next day the place was to find and enjoy Air Terjun Tandula Jangga, another waterfall that looks amazing. After wasting time going around to find a place to get a PCR test to get on the plane the day after, we drove out.

But we never found that waterfall, we drove in the middle of the hills for about 2 hours, on harsh roads, but we couldn’t find it. The truck was getting low on petrol and it was getting late. We had to go back. But the drive was still amazing.

Just beautiful wilderness.

We saw a house and tried to ask for directions, they told us to keep going but at that point, they said another 45-60 minutes, it was too far. The house of the ladies that told us to keep going:

The area from the drone, wild Sumba:

Came across this guy selling micro ice creams to the kids, and had to get one:

Went back to the resort, and then we went out for a good, delicious pig dish:

The next day was the last day there and one full of places to visit. First, we went for the PCR test at the hospital.

Once that was done we hit the road, first stop, Pantai Puru Kambera:

We then drove to Air Terjun Tanggedu, another waterfall. Sumba is all about nature. This place was very nice. You have to park and walk for about 30-40 minutes or get a motorbike from the parking lot, for a small fee.

We took the bike.

The “waterfall” is on a river with many waterways connecting and changing levels:

Great place for a snack:

Drone views from the area:

On the way back we stopped in what they call the Savanah of Sumba. Very African vibes.

The “wild” horses:

Very nice, we also stopped a bit further, where this village was. The river snaking in the hills and providing water to grow food in that dry area looked pretty good to me:

And that was it, drove back to the resort and flew out the next day.

It was an amaziiiiiiiing adventure. Even with the jellyfish situation I was able to enjoy this place a lot and would recommend it to anyone who likes adventures.