A long time ago I was in Bali, which was a dream for me. When I came back 10 years ago, I got a shock: I hardly recognized it - instead of a tropical idyll, overpopulation, mass tourism, rip-off, overcrowded beaches, congested streets, malls, waste, pollution and prostitution.
Since that experience I have become an avid Sumba traveller. A lot of things are similar to Bali as it had been then.
But Sumba is also different: the landscape is rather hilly - no volcanoes, partly extremely dry - not harmonious green. The traditional festivals are not for highly sensitive visitors - not homey. For me the people seem more comprehensible, perhaps due to their different religion.
Conventional guidebooks for individual travellers and backpackers don't have more than a few pages about Sumba. They give only little more than factual information on flight connections, hotel rates and mainstream attractions. And they are usually already outdated at the time of going to press.
That's why I had the idea of writing a guidebook in form of a website, to provide up-to-date information on Sumba, which gives visitors an at most comprehensive picture of the island. Something that helps to inform visitors in a way that developments like in Bali, run a little bit different in Sumba, and in a positive direction.
General themes and background information are not meant to be complete but are only touched on. Information on individual sports such as diving, snorkelling, surfing, kite surfing, fishing, cycling, birdwatching, cave exploring, yachting and for
Instagram-people are given only in passing. Therefore, there are other websites that describe
it more precisely.
There is also no reasonable Sumba Map. So, I have made one which you can buy in a high resolution as paper version, the: Tourist Map of Sumba or Peta Wisata Sumba.
According to official figures, about 15000 tourists come to Sumba every year (most of them are Indonesians). Promotion of tourism is a very important topic in local politics.
2 airlines offer daily flights to and from Sumba. The airport runway of Tambolaka has been extended and the shack in the airport has long been replaced by a real reception building. The extension of the runway of the airport in Waingapu is planned; the airport buildings have already been enlarged. There are even discussions about further airports in the Anakalang and Waijelu district.
Anywhere in Sumba new roads are under construction. They mainly do not connect people in their villages, but above all lead directly to beaches and attractions of the island. Fences are built and hotels are being planned. Everywhere locals offer beaches and land for sale. Swarms of investors look around for land in Sumba. They do this not only on foot and with 4wd's but also from the air with drones like vultures … and present their prey on the internet. Almost all beautiful beaches are already owned by Balinese or Chinese, Russians or French, ... just to mention a few.
Many Sumbanese have come back hapless to their villages in Sumba, after a job in Bali. Today they dream about flourishing tourism in Sumba. In many villages people have the idea to build huts or guesthouses for tourists. Just to get a little slice of cake that is distributed.
The declining attraction of Bali has the effect, that travellers go to Sumba to discover a new destination. They look for the original experience. And Sumba is hardly more than an hour's flight away from Bali.
The life of the people in Sumba is more difficult than on other islands of Indonesia. Especially the northern part of Sumba is extremely dry. The soil is exhausted by deforestation and erosion. Sumba is one of the poorest regions in Indonesia. What they plant is usually not enough for their own food. About half the population has no access to clean water. Malaria is widespread. There are hardly any doctors. Little more than a quarter of the children get a qualified basic school education.
As a Sumba traveller, you have to be aware that you are confronted with real poverty.If you cannot manage without WiFi, your social network, and other achievements of the western world, you should wait a little bit before you make a trip to Sumba.
Tourists, travellers, and backpackers cannot be stopped - they will come. Sumba will not remain a lonely planet. Tourism is a virus against which there is no medication. But Tourism could offer the people of Sumba a source of income. Hopefully the majority of income from tourism will remain on the island, and for those who need it. This website and guidebook aims to contribute a bit to it.
There is much to be discovered in Sumba: lots of culture, traditional lifestyle, friendly, and hospitable people, bizarre landscapes, untouched nature, and many beautiful beaches.
I have no economic interests with this website. Incoming donations and what's left over from the sale of brochures and maps I use completely for projects in Sumba.
Only with your help, this site will be a real help for others. So please send me more information, posts, comments, updates, and corrections to this website.
Frequently I am asked for private accommodation and competent tour guides. Please write me, if you live in Sumba and would be happy to accommodate tourists; or if you want to work as an English-speaking Guide. In Indonesian language: Silahkan menuliskan saya, jika Anda tinggal di Sumba dan ingin mengakomodasi wisatawan; mungkin Anda ingin menjadi Guide yang berbicara bahasa inggris.