The mysterious and rugged island of Sumba lies south of Komodo and Flores, and is well off the worn tourist path in Indonesia. 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 they are woven into the cloth.
In contrast to Indonesia’s volcanic islands to the north, Sumba is blessed with lovely rolling hills and endless savannah grasslands that set a totally different backdrop in comparison to anything else you may encounter around the country. The grasslands mean that horse-breeding is still prominent here, with master horsemen hailing from the island. You’ll also find rare birdlife, world-renowned surf breaks and traditional villages all over the island. Head to the east to discover an abundance of sandal trees, Wanggameti National Park, forest trails and gushing waterfalls. The west is more populated, and here you can experience village life and the impressive preserved traditions and animist beliefs, as well as Manupeu National Park, home to fascinating endemic wildlife.
If you’re looking for a superb beach resort, Nihi Sumba provides blissful relaxation and luxury, as well as being a brilliant base to explore the island.