Indonesia – Sumba Island

Sumba Island became a part of our Indonesia itinerary once we heard about the Pasola Festival. Experiencing the festival is neither straightforward nor easy as information about it is scarce. We did know that Pasola is held annually around February or March (the exact date is only published several days after the full moon cycle once the nyale multicolored sea worms start to appear) and we had to be flexible in our schedule in order to see it. Held in several villages around Sumba Island, there are approximately 6 Pasola events in total each year. It was a bit frustrating not knowing until a few weeks in advance what the exact dates of the festival would be but we figured since we had a total of 3 months in Asia, we could make it work. Other than the nyale worms appearing, the more exciting portion of the Pasola festival revolved around the horseback riding warriors. Two opposing teams of riders dressed in their traditional best (hand woven ikat clothing handed down from generation to generation) geared up for battle with each other in a ritual fight involving wooden spears being hurled across the field of play.  Their goal? To injure or knock their opponents off their horses using flying wooden projectiles! Needless to say, hundreds of flying spears hurled in opposite directions is a recipe for mayhem and every year participants and spectators get injured, maimed or even killed. A death or injury as a result of the Pasola festival is not something to be mourned however, as locals believe those who die will become sacrifices so that the harvest will be bountiful. This celebration of the rice-planting season sounded like something from the medieval ages and we were keen to experience this fascinating cultural event first hand.  Other than the festival, we really didn’t know too much about Sumba Island so we contacted a local guide, Daniel Bonat, to organize a week itinerary for us. This ended up working well as we were able to maximize our time on Sumba to see the “best of” what the island had to offer. We ended up visiting five traditional villages (Manola, Wee Leo, Waru Wora, Praijing and Praiyawang), four beaches (Kita, Marosi, Watu Bella and Kerewei), three waterfalls (Waikelo Suwah, Tanggedu and Wai Marang), , two lookout points (Tanau Hills and Danau Wairinding) and one spectacular lagoon (Waikuri). Sumba was an unexpected highlight and we will never forget our time here!

Nitty Gritty:

Daniel Bonat, (WhatsApp: +62 813 39722170): He can coordinate transportation, hotels (ranging from traditional village overnight stays to five star), food and an itinerary for Sumba Island. He was very responsive and had some great recommendations. Other reviewers mentioned he was very pushy but we found that if we just told him exactly what we wanted, he would bend over backwards to make it happen. He used to work for the tourism office at the Tambolaka Airport but has since decided to lead tours himself. He put together a week long tour for significantly less than other operators were quoting us.

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