Five days across Sumba
Ikat Textiles, Megalithic Tombs
Sumba is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands, in the southern part of the province of East Nusa Tenggara. It is located 40 nautical miles south of Komodo and Flores and 165 nautical miles West of Timor. Sumba has an area of 11,153 km˛ (4,306 sq m), and is only sparsely populated with 665,000 inhabitants. The largest town on the island is the main port of Waingapu which has a population of about fifty thousand. Sumba is decidedly off the beaten track and probably the most mysterious of all Indonesia's major islands. With a unique tribal culture and ancient rituals Sumba is one of the few places in the world where the Bronze Age practice of burial underneath megaliths remains intact. Christianity is the dominant religion but about a third of the indigenous population still follows the animist ‘Marapu’ religion.
The island is also famous for its production of ‘ikat’ textiles, in which a pattern is dyed onto the warp threads before the weft is woven into the cloth. Sumba's textiles are distinguished by their complexity. Collected as examples of the highest quality in textile design they are found in the major museums of the world as well as the homes of collectors.
On this island you travel through a landscape of rolling hills, covered by savannah grasslands and totally different from the volcanic ranges on the islands to the North.
Day one: arrival Waingapu (D)
Meeting service at Mau Hau airport and transfer to the hotel of your choice.
Top Indonesia recommends Elvin Hotel, considered the best in town.
In the afternoon as a first introduction to Sumba we take you on a twenty minute drive to the Prainatang valley. We walk fifteen minutes uphill to Prailiang, a perfect example of an Old Sumbanese fortified hilltop village with ten huts in total, the six largest neatly aligned on the top. When we return to Waingapu we take a stroll in the old harbour area. Dinner at the hotel.
Day two: East Sumba (B,L,D)
Today we make our single foray into East Sumba. The East Sumba Regency has fewer unusual tombs than the Western part of the island but the Ikat weavers of the East are known for more beautiful and intricate cloth than what is produced by their counterparts in the West. First we make a stop in one of the villages that are considered to be the center of contemporary Sumbanese weaving, Prailiu and Kwangu where we may witness all the phases of making traditional cloth: preparing the cotton, spinning it into thread, tying the design into the thread, dyeing and the final weaving on back strap looms.
Afterwards we follow the coast of the Savu Sea to Rende, a village with large traditional houses and imposing megalithic tombstones, about 70 km east of Waingapu. On the way we stop for a picnic lunch on Kambera or Londalima Beach. Dinner at the hotel.
Day three: Waingapu - Anakalang- Waikabubak (B,L,D)
Today it is best to make an early start. After breakfast we check out from the hotel and on the way out of town we first make a stop at the Waingapu morning market. Then we start the five hour drive to the district capital of West Sumba, Waikabubak. We stop for lunch in the fertile valley of Anakalang, the district with the greatest concentration of megalithic tombs on the island.
Here the Stone Age tradition of building megalithic tombs has continued until the present age and Anakalang is said to be one of the few locations where the social practices and the traditional methods to build megaliths are observed until today. We visit Kampung Pasunga, a village with a particularly impressive grave tomb closed by a stone slab erected vertically. The carved images of the Chief and his wife date back to 1926 and took six months to complete. In the course of the afternoon we also pay a visit to Tarung, a hillcrest village near Waikabubak known as one of the island’s most powerful spiritual centers where the high priests of the Marapu religion reside. In Waikabubak we check into Hotel Manandang or Mona Lisa cottages. Dinner at the hotel.
Day four: West Sumba (B,L,D)
After breakfast we drive towards Kodi, a small town on the Western coast. This part of Sumba receives much more rainfall than the rest of the island so it is greener and more fertile. We find avocado, mango and cashew groves as well as teak plantations. We are in the Wild West of Sumba, the country of horse traders, cattlemen and farmers. In Ratenenegaro and Wainyapu we find traditional houses with incredibly peaked roofs and many more unusual megalithic tombs.
On Tossi beach where a majestic surf breaks on the offshore reef we stop for a picnic lunch. After lunch we visit the village of Tosi, one of the sites of the famous Pasola contests held yearly in early March. Pasola is another ancient custom, in which huge teams of warriors on horseback engage in ceremonial battle by hurling spears at each other. Casualties are not uncommon during these events.
Before we return to Waikabulak we also stop at Parona Baroro and Bondo Kawangu. Dinner at the hotel.
Day five: Waikabubak - Departure or extension (B)
From Waikabubak it is a drive of about two and a half hours to Tambolaka Airport near the North Coast, for a flight to Denpasar, Bali.
Alternatively there is the option to extend your stay on Sumba and turn your voyage into an exceptional experience by moving to the seaside splendor of an exclusive hideaway that consistently makes it onto the lists of the world's best eco-hotels: the Nihiwati Resort on the Southwest coast < http://www.nihiwatu.com/>.
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