In the main towns, Waingapu, Melolo, Waikabubak, and Waitabula, there are now ATM machines. With credit cards or debit cards you can get cash 24 hours a day. European Cashpool or Vpay cards work at least only in Bali. BNI and Mandiri give you most.
Be cautious with BRI and NTT banks. It often happens that either a transaction is not possible or even the card is disabled by Visa or MasterCard after an attempted transaction.
Before leaving one of the bigger towns it is important to change these bills into smaller denominations as there is little or no change in the villages.
In Sumba, the day begins with sunrise after 5 o’clock; this is due to the time zones that are more aligned with the central region of Indonesia. After sunset, about 17 o’clock, one can only hope that there is enough fuel for generators and people use electricity sparingly. In the evening you should always carry a flashlight. After 10pm the day is over.
Because of the widespread introduction of solar power lights, generators are put on less often in rural areas. For your electric equipment you need a charger with a USB plug now. These plugs fit into solar installations.
AAA batteries are seldom available in Sumba.
On Sunday, more than a quarter of the population of Sumba is in church, shops are closed, and you get nothing.
In addition to the Indonesian calling code +62 the code for landlines is 0387. So the total code is +62387.
In many villages there were satellite phone stations, especially in areas without mobile phone reception. They are almost extinct because cell phone reception has improved and everyone has a cell phone. The blue signs Telkomsel +- km are no longer relevant.
The Simpati or Kartu As card in the version "Area Bali Nusra" is the only mobile phone network that has a relatively good coverage in Sumba. All other networks do not work. In rural areas, in the mountains, and especially in the south also the Kartu As fails. In such cases you should simply ask locals for a "pohon telekomunikasi or tempat telekomunikasi"The connectivity of smartphones is even poorer. Actually they work only near the cities or telephone masts. That's why you should download maps, info and everything you need online before getting to Sumba.
You should fill up your mobile phone Pulsa in town, because you can only get tiny Pulsa denominations in the country. Please buy Pulsa Hp Biasa, Pulsa Hp Internet, and no Pulsa Listrik - this is for electricity.
In many sub-districts of Sumba, there were local internet centres (Pusat layanan internet kecamatan). You recognize them by the blue signs with a globe and magnifying glass. However, such a sign does usually not mean that the technology (still) works. Meanwhile they are also dying out.In Waingapu there is a public WiFi place near the old harbour at the Telekomunikasi office. In Waikabubak there is a public WiFi place at the telephone mast. In Waitabula there is an internet station in the Kolping House opposite the cathedral. Things are changing rapidly. In hotels and restaurants, there might be already WiFi. Please look at yourself, where you get "WiFi Koneksi".
Letters I sent from Sumba to Germany always arrived - vice versa not always. A registered letter raises the chance of arriving. If you want to write to people in the country, you should ask for an address in town as there is no reliable postal delivery available in the country. When you see many people waiting in the Kantor Pos, it is probably due to salary and pension payday, and then you should just come back next day.
You get Malaria every few years – that is what I've often heard in Sumba. CRM and DTG recommend permanent malaria medication.
Malarone or Atovaquon are the standard medication. It is reimbursed by some health insurance companies (in Germany). In some countries cheaper competing products with the same ingredients are available such as Malaprotec. On the Internet and in Asia Malarone is offered but it is often faked. If you take Malarone over an extended period, it may reduce the number of red blood cells, other side effects are described in the instructions ... You should never take Malarone for more than 4 weeks.
The cheaper alternative is Doxycyclin. This drug may have the unfortunate side effect that you become sensitive to sunlight. If you take it for many months, it has no therapeutic effect.
Since January 2013, the new malaria medicine Eurartesim is available. It is more suitable for prophylaxis than for therapy, and is therefore not recommended by CRM.
Shamans and development workers in Sumba swear on Sambiloto (Latin: Andrographis Paniculata) a medicinal herb that is also applied clinically.
In PUSKESMAS health centres in Sumba malaria can be diagnosed quickly. They treat it with a Sambiloto-like Chinese medicine.
My recommendation: If you want to be sure, take Doxycyclin permanently if you can stand it and Malarone for emergency cases. Malaria rapid tests would be useful; they are reliable but have not been offered for some time.
However a considerably higher risk than getting infected with malaria is
Dengue Fever: There is currently no medicine against it. Especially in Bali and now also in Sumba is a drastic increase of the diseases to be recorded. The "Asian Tiger Mosquito" can transmit the disease. They prefer puddles of water in plastic waste, car tires and dumps. You can recognize the mosquitoes by their exceptional size and black and white striped body and legs. Dengue fever mostly it occurs as an epidemic around monsoon time, especially in the southwest. At 95%, the disease process is similar to influenza. At 5%, there is a critical clinical disease process, and untreated it can lead to death. A secondary infection leads to considerably more critical courses. There are 4 variants of the dengue fever, each leads to immunity against the respective pathogen. As a precaution foreigners are often sent for treatment to Bali.
You can detect dengue fever with a simple self-test: constrict your upper arm for 5 minutes, than open and look in the elbow - if red spots appear, it is 90% dengue (From: Stefan Loose Travel Guide).
While the malaria mosquitoes bite only at night, dengue mosquitoes bite around the clock. You have mosquitoes not only during monsoon season, but also in dry season especially near mangrove areas, stagnant water, trash, and irrigation systems. You should not only rely on the efficacy of drugs, but first above all, spray with a mosquito repellent. Antibrumm-Forte and Nobite were the best in test.
In open accommodation you must sleep with a mosquito net. Don't just bring the net, but also enough rope to fix it to somewhere.
Rabies has been increasing lately. Deaths in Bali, Lombok and Flores were reported. A vaccine is expensive but useful, because the disease leads to death.Head lice are everywhere in the country. However, not every woman who dealt with the hair of another does it because of head lice. Mostly she is only plucking grey hair. At night a silk sleeping bag with a cover around the pillow provides protection against head lice.
Sand fleas are annoying especially at beaches, near brackish water, and river mouths.
Leeches are common in wet jungle areas in Sumba. They fall off as soon as they get in contact with some mosquito spray which they do not like.
Those who travel in such a remote area must be aware that there may be little help in emergencies. You have to take care of yourself.
When you see locals sitting on roofs of buses without being able to hold tight, you have to realize that we "Orang Bule" apparently do have a different understanding of security. From this aspect questions according safety purposes have to be put into perspective.
A well-stocked first aid kit is needed which contains everything that you cannot get in Sumba. These include: antibiotics for acute cases, antibiotic cream in case of injuries, healing and iodine ointment, gastrointestinal agents, malaria rapid test (if they are available again), anti-malaria pills, anti-eye-irritations, mosquito repellent, painkillers (! No Aspirin), tape for tying, waterproof plaster...
For personal safety and if you track through the country alone, you should note the following:
Dogs are kept in every household in the villages. There are also many stray dogs. They could all be infected with rabies. If you are hiking from village to village you should definitely equip yourself with a stick to drive away their calf bites.
Wild Boars are in mountains and forests in the south. Therefore make frequent stops and look for droppings and trampled ground.
Snakes are rarer than elsewhere in Southeast Asia. By the way, they live not only on the ground. They usually flee if they sense steps in their habitat. The green snakes are deadly poisonous. In the dry areas there are pythons, but they are not so big, that they are dangerous for adults.
Crocodiles are often found as sculptures on megalithic tombs. So they do exist! They live in freshwater wetlands and especially in non-fast flowing rivers mostly in estuaries. Hence the name Buaya Muara = River Mouth Crocodile. In search of food, they often go into saltwater. They have a strong territorial behaviour and defend it aggressively. According to the Marapu belief, the crocodile may also have the spirit of a deceased person. In this respect, crocodiles must not be killed. In the past, Sumbanese fed the lead animal of a crocodile family with pets to encourage friendly behaviour of the spirits towards humans.
The media report a significant increase of crocodile accidents, complemented by drastic images. Experts report both, an increase of specimens and a migration of crocodiles from the area of Timor and Australia. From the danger and size, Australian alligators do not differ from estuarial crocodiles. Due to this aspect, the discussion whether Australian alligators have immigrated to East Indonesia or not is irrelevant.
As a lay person, I can only refer to appropriate media without being able to assess the extent of the dangers. If you have any concerns, please do research yourself on the Internet under the keyword "Buaya Sumba". I have included relevant information about dangerous areas in the text on the website. Accidents about I heard, happened especially when someone has invaded the habitat of crocodiles. The most recent reports of accidents were related to people who were fishing, doing seaweed cultivation, harvesting water spinach, and washing at the riverside. However, you should not swim near estuaries and mangrove areas and cross rivers only in a clear place. Ask locals if the area is safe before venturing into the water!
Here is a list of sites on the Internet about accidents / encounters with crocodiles: Danau Waimulang / Wunga (Google Maps: Danau Indah Wunga Timor), Sungai Kadahang / Haharu, Kelurahan Lambanapu / Kiritana, Sungai Manangamihi / Kanatang, Pantai Londalima / Kanatang, Pantai Padadita / Kambera, Kelurahan Wangga / Kambera, Pantai Walakiri / Pandawai, Desa Kiritana and Dusun Lai Hiding / Pandawai, Desa Kaliuda and Pantai Benda / Pahunga Lodu, Desa Lainjanji and Pantai Watu Parunu / Wulla Waijelu, Desa Katewel and Pantai Kita / Loura, Sungai Mamboro, Pantai Manu Wolu / Mamboro.
I've heard nothing about crime against tourists. Tourists are rare and sometimes behave differently to what people of Sumba are used to. This is often a cause of misunderstanding. As a guest it is important to develop a sense of what you may do and may not do - especially concerning the Marapu faith.
Things which we bring with us, and which are known from advertising in television, surely arouse certain desires. Perhaps we should leave things with famous brand names at home. And as I described above the term property is sometimes defined differently than with us.
People in East Sumba say that there is
much more crime in West Sumba. At least the tone among the people and with foreigners
sounds less friendly, sometimes perhaps too direct, which is interpreted as aggressive. This is especially true for Kodi, the
poorest district of the island. In
Mandorak, Ratenggaro, Waijengo and Bwanna "unpleasant controversies"
have been reported.
The village of Ratenggaro had been temporary closed for tourists. In August 2019 there was a stabbing with resulting in death.
Among themselves they are still very aggressive.
The age of head-hunting is over less than 100 years. As I said before, there are still ethnic clashes. People burn down houses of the neighbouring district, steal cattle and commit murder. On the personal level there are often motives like envy, jealousy, and pride.
An "accident" at a Tarik Batu ceremony in Pau in 1958, where about 50 people were killed, is still unclear.
Some people steal gold and valuables from funerary objects in megalithic tombs. Supposedly there are Balinese in Sumba who open graves with car jacks and winches. It is a rumour, that rich Balinese instigate people from Sumba to steal to order, mainly megalithic statues. (cf. theft because of bride price under Social Structures and chapter History).
This website doesn't sort the world according to sports. Please check on your own websites. Nevertheless, here are some pointers:
Diving and Snorkelling: The
only dive centre in Sumba is in the noble Nihiwatu resort. They dive at the
You can snorkel at different places: In the north and northwest of Sumba the underwater world is not really interesting.
Along the east coast, during calm weather and near beaches are many smaller snorkelling areas (Kambera, Nusa, Benda, Kalala, ...). Unfortunately, the increasing of seaweed cultivation makes the water dull and fishes move away.
In the south the waves are usually too high. However, if the sea is relatively quiet from November to April, the south coast is quite attractive. The marine population is not nearly as varied as in Alor, Flores, and Sulawesi but also different and very colourful.
You have to be aware of dangers of waves and currents - there is no speedboat that comes to help you.
Surfing: You have excellent websites describing the particular spots, better than I can and want. If there is no wave, appropriate accommodations are mostly empty.
Fishing: More and more Indonesians do "puncing" = fishing. Especially from Waingapu or the fishing villages in the East they rent boats for fishing. So just ask locals whether somebody takes you along.
Bicycle: ... is only possible with mountain bikes on side roads, some dare to undergo such Tortures. Indonesians are beginning to discover mountain biking as a sport.
Birdwatchers: ... will find interesting observation places also outside the known areas. In the main street of Waibakul (Jalan Raja Wairasa) there is an information center of "Burung Indonesia".
Cave Carvers: Anywhere in Sumba there are limestone caves. Most are unexplored. Only those which are easily accessible are used by locals. Near Lombu are caves where early humans lived. Caves near Kodi often contain drinking water. There are water-solar projects through which this water is conducted to villages.
My personal experience is that it does not depend on the name of an organization, with which you do a tour, but on the experience of your guide. Guides from Sumba know more than alleged professionals from the rest of Indonesia. Take your guides or your drivers in duty, say what you want to see, otherwise they show you what the mainstream tourist always gets to see. To accompany tourists is a job that brings a lot of money but also many opportunities for both sides.
On the internet there are increasingly offers for tours to Sumba. These are almost exclusively agencies from Bali who live on commissions but whose guides have no idea about Sumba. Just compare the texts of these offers. Maybe you even find a passage from this website. So here I mention only people from Sumba who really know the country. Here is an alphabetical list of references:
Andreas lives in Waingapu. He is guide since 25 years and speaks good English – as well as several Sumba languages. He guides you mainly to east Sumba. Phone: 085238379579
Anselmus lives in Waitabula. He is English teacher. He leads you competently through West Sumba. Students are always happy when he's gone again ... Phone: 081337064256
Anto (Adryanto) Konda Tana works in Lewa and his second job is being a guide. He speaks English fluently, is a diligent scooter driver, nice and humorous. His speciality is Lewa, the south coast, and East Sumba. Phone: 085333428709; Email: email@example.com. His website http://www.tarimbang.com/ is completely outdated
Budiyanto Karwelo looks after birdwatchers to the Manupeu Tanah Daru National Park. He lives in Lewa, provides information and can probably help you to find a guide. He speaks German and English. Phone: 081333142496; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hugo Dalupe runs the ticket office Bilbo Tour & Travel in Waitabula next to the 3-storey building at the branch to Kodi. He speaks good English and is very flexible in the tour design. Phone: 081239753616 and 081392655696; Email: email@example.com. He has just published his Website (still not all in English). It contains well-designed tour suggestions http://www.tour-sumba.com
Jhon (Yohannes Lende Dangga) speaks good English and drives you around with his car anywhere, but preferably in West Sumba. He has a competent knowledge and responds flexible to the wishes of his guests. At the end of a tour, he offers a delicious Sumbanese menu at his home in Waitabula. Phone: 081337479988
Philipus Renggi is the
boss of Sumba Adventure Tours and Travel. He and his team drive you preferably
with cars but also with motorcycles to all corners of the island. Not cheap but
competent, helpful, and flexible. He is based in Tambolaka. Some of the guides
mentioned herein work also for him. Phone: 081337107845 or 038721727; Email:
websites: http://sumbaadventuretours.com/ or http://www.sumbaislandtours.com
Sony Radjah and his big family lives in Melolo. He often takes tourists, speaks very good English and is well informed, especially about the Savu population in East Sumba. He is involved in social institutions. Since 2016 he works for the weaver's cooperative in front of his house. If you want to live there, you should book well in advance. Phone: 085239238950; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and www.facebook.com/sony.radjah
Timo (Timotheus) is the good spirit of Artha Hotel in Waikabubak. When he has time, he will competently lead you around the Waikabubak area. Phone: 085253253980
Yuli (Yuliana Leda Tara) speaks English and French fluently. She leads you by car or maybe by motorcycle competently to every corner of the island and is super informed on all regional and socio-political subjects. She and her family lives in the traditional Marapu village Tarung in Waikabubak. Unfortunately the village has been completely burnt down on 7 October 2017, and her house has not been completely rebuilt yet. But she provides accommodation in other houses in the village. Phone: 082236216297; Email: email@example.com.