Four days of genuine tribal life in West Sumba

Far from the madding crowds of Bali and Java, this experience will give you a privileged glimpse into ancient Indonesia. Wild and fascinating, West Sumba is a land of rolling savannah, golden rice fields and hazy blue mountains, steeped in mystery and tradition. During the trip, you’ll get to know the Sumba way of life, which is the closest observed living culture to the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Between expeditions, you’ll have plenty of time to stretch out on empty, exotic beaches and soak up the tropical sunshine.

What to expect in West Sumba...

One of Indonesia’s least developed yet most captivating islands, Sumba is a beautiful, eye-opening place, tucked away in the Eastern Nusa Tenggara province, and rarely appearing on the average Indonesia itinerary. 

As a result, Sumba remains true to its traditional roots, with a thriving tribal culture and an array of unique rituals. The coastline is simply stunning, with huge swathes of abandoned golden sand. If you’re after an enthralling cultural experience combined with an isolated beach break, this is absolute the place to come.

If you're dependent on high class hotels and - well, electricity 24 hours a day - this might not be the experience for you. As Karl points out, 'an island like this has only limited electricity (and the hotels have only small generators, so electricity is limited and certainly not the entire day). Also wifi is non-existent in most places.'

Staying on-grid is precisely the opposite of what a trip to Sumba is about, so make sure your expectations are adjusted accordingly - the island is naturally stunning, and its culture is fascinating, but its hotel staff are unlikely to offer you a hot stone massage or a pillow menu.

During your expedition, you’ll learn about Sumba-style architecture as well as the local Merapu religion, and visit remarkable tribal burial grounds where Sumbanese elders are encased in stone megaliths. Explore the Royal Tombs, with some light trekking to tiny villages along the way, and enjoy gorgeous panoramas over green terraced valleys and the Indian Ocean as you traverse the ancient landscape.

In the Kodi region, rich with local tradition and fringed with wild, tropical coastline, you’ll visit hidden beaches and stop for lunch at a relief project created to help the Kodi tribe withstand modern life. Afterwards, you’ll continue to Wainyapu, an impressive cliff top village of thatched tribal buildings, perched above the Indian Ocean.

Your accommodation will be the best available on Sumba, but that doesn't mean deluxe - the best aspect of both hotels is their proximity to astonishing beaches. Sumba Nautil Resort (near Wainyapu) is nicely presented - most would say old fashioned - but we love its cliff-top location and scenic 30-45 minute stroll down the beautiful empty beach below the property.

The remote Mario Hotel, where you'll stay for your final night on the island, offers superb snorkelling and diving, and again is situated above a tremendous beach, but is basic by Selective Asia standards - so get your sense of adventure ready and prepare to set foot where few tourists bother to come.

Location: West Sumba, Eastern Nusa Tenggara

Duration: 4 days / 3 nights

Accommodation: Two nights in hilltop cottage accommodation overlooking the coast, and one in a remote, basic hotel by an empty beach.

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Karl says...

'Clients are consistently amazed by this stunning island - providing you can handle the simple accommodation, it offers such a great opportunity for discovery. When it comes to ‘off-the-tourist-trail’ destinations, Sumba is the real deal.' 

Important to note...

West Sumba is strongly tribal, so please be prepared to step into a totally different way of life and stay respectful of the local etiquette. There is no real tourist infrastructure in place, so you won’t find any small warungs or bars in the villages. Each night, you’ll eat at your accommodation.