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Indonesia forum

Motorbiking in Sumbawa

Posted by somtam2000 on 16/3/2016 at 07:22 admin

While I'm still very early into this trip, here are a few pointers for anyone considering doing this -- and I'll add more as I go. The pics are a bit big - sorry!

There are goats everywhere. Goats appear to have extremely limited road sense. Watch out. There are also dogs, cows and some buffalo -- all are smarter than goats. After rain, kids play on the road, so keep your eyes peeled -- they also kick a ball from one side of the road to the other a lot, which can be a bit nerve wracking. In heavy rain, the roads turn to rivers.

General Se Asian road rules hold -- size has right of way. Petrol & repair shops are just about everywhere.

On the road north of Bima.

Pack sunscreen! The sun here seems amazingly bright and the first day I got incredibly sunburnt. Sunscreen (which I forgot to pack) can be very difficult to source. I've been making do with some women's skin balm thing that supposedly has an SPF rating of 18 -- definitely go with the white one (which rubs in) over the pink (which doesn't).

My plan in theory had been to fly into Bima, rent a motorbike, ride the whole way across to the far west and back (with some sidetracking etc). It seemed a simple concept.

Big skies north of Bima.

In practise, it proved to be almost impossible to rent a motorbike in Bima -- especially for a trip of any length. I had read reports online of this being difficult, but as most were old reports, I assumed matters may have changed -- this was a bad call.

Bike hire in Bima, when you finally find a bike, is expensive -- 100,000 to 120,000 rupiah a day -- and the bikes generally of very poor quality. I initially rented a bike through Hotel Lila Graha in Bima, ostensibly for three days, but the bike was so bad I gave it back after a day. Subsequently I hired a guide with a bike for a day (he doubled me) and then rented a bike through him, where he went and found an ojek in his village who was willing to sit on his ass for three days while I rode it. The bike is ok - a step through automatic - but there was zero scope for nego on price (120,000 take it or leave it + pay upfront).

Boat building - with cows!

Your mileage will vary on this of course, but if I was to do this again, I'd definitely rent a decent bike in Bali and ride it over. As it stands I've shelved trying to ride across and instead doing some legs by bus.

Riding at night is not recommended for safety reasons and riding in remote areas alone, is likewise not recommended. As a group of three we had planned to ride from Rontu Beach to Lakey via Parado today but were effectively turned back at Parado due to "bad guys" on the road further down. We had been warned a couple of times (first at Rontu, where they also warned us off Wane Beach) and then at a shop along the way when we stopped for directions. In the end we decided it would be prudent to turn back and go via Dompu. Ask locals where you are riding (when filling up gas etc).

Fishing village a bit north of Sape town.

Roads are generally of a surprisingly good standard. Patchy in places, but the main arterial roads are fine. Spectacular views and forest scenery and, especially when compared to Bali, very low traffic. Riding your own way gives you the best opportunities to stop for pics and so on. The riding has generally been excellent.

So far have ridden the following:
Bima - Tawali - Sangaeng - Tawali - Sape - Bima 164km in 8 hours
Road as far as Tawali is ace, the first hour out of Bima just breathtaking scenery. From Tawali on to Sape the road degrades considerably and the last 15-20km is just vile, especially in torrential rain -- but brilliant scenery and the boat building at Sangaeng way cool.

Bajo Pulau, near Sape

Bima - Sape - Bima 135 km
This was back to Sape to do a boat trip to an island and a few beaches. The road is in great condition.

Bima - Rontu - Parado - Sila - Dompu 163km 10 hours
Last few km to Rontu mudfest with some hardbase down there somewhere. See safety note above re Parado road. Otherwise road all great save some roadworks east of Dompu.

Coral looked all dead, but still pretty!

I'm loving it. Have found the people to be especially friendly (except for the machete dudes) -- really bend over backwards friendly. The countryside is just stunning. Food is simple, good and cheap. It isn't a culinary capital, but don't be put off by people saying the food is bad - it isn't. As long as you're fine eating local fare, you'll be fine. And it is cheap. Nasi campur 8-10k, coffee with milk 600 rupiah etc. Beer is available, you just have to ask - at least so far anyway - beer in Bima and Dompu has not been a particular struggle.

Lariti Beach, near Sape.

3G internet generally ok in developed centres, some isolated areas, no signal at all. Variable overall.

Sumbawa, at least so far, reminds me a lot of Flores in that over and over I think, why are there no travellers here?

Anyway, more to come.

#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,090

Posted by somtam2000 on 16/3/2016 at 07:30 admin

I should add, I'm posting daily updates on the Travelfish Facebook page here and also on my Instagram page here.

Also, if you're an Instagram user, for starters, add the new TF feed that pulls in all our writers here

There are also some excellent Sumbawa Instagram accounts, including:
Explorebima (who I'm travelling with at the moment)
Exploredompu (private account but you can request access)
Adventurous Sumbawa

Anyway, that's a wrap :-)

#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,090

Posted by somtam2000 on 28/3/2016 at 20:26 admin

Sorry for the delay in posting more. Have covered a lot of ground since the above, including an ascent of Tambora volcano a few days ago. Here are some pics of the climb. Do it!

Coffee plantations are the first thing you'll walk through after leaving Pancasila.


Signage is minimal - generally of the "we'll tell you when you get there" variety. This was an exception.


There are five Pos on the climb, but only Pos 1,2 and 3 have a shelter. You will need a tent (can be hired in Pancasila).


Some kind of baby fern. We ended up eating these on our last day (when we'd just about run out of food).


The shelter at Pos 3 and two of my climbing companions.


The trail can sometimes be difficult to find.


As you get higher you leave the jungle and enter pine forests. The temperature drops, especially at night.


Pos 5: Cold but pretty!


Almost to the summit.


Difficult to describe how vast the caldera is.


Just amazing.


So vast.


The final climb to the summit.


Hi Mum!


Here come the clouds out of the crater. Within 30 minutes visibility dropped to about 50 metres (thankfully temporarily!).


Looking over Pulau Moyo you can see Rinjani (on Lombok) and Agung (on Bali) in the other direction we could see Api (on Pulau Sangaeng) Ring of Fire FTW


And then the walk down begins...


Our final meal before leaving the mountain - at Pos 1 - the last of our rice and gathered palmfronds and chillis!

Full write-up to come.

#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,090

Posted by purcitron on 19/7/2016 at 18:16

looks excellent!

is it possible to save some time during the Tambora climb by riding closer to it by motorbike?
im guess no roads lead up the moutain?

#4 purcitron has been a member since 15/6/2014. Location: United States. Posts: 45

Posted by somtam2000 on 19/7/2016 at 20:02 admin

I took a bus to the primary starting point (at Pancasila) and to ride there from Dompu would probably only save an hour... apparently there is another access point where you can ride closer, see reports on Gunungbagging for more info but I'm not so sure how much time that would really save you + you'll still need a guide or porter.

We couldn't have done our climb maybe a day faster, but in my opinion, not a climb to be rushed.

#5 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,090

Posted by laverysean on 8/8/2016 at 20:44

Mate, loved the Info on sumbawa:) we hired a car in Lombok ( Suzuki APV) and drove it over...I'm glad we did, especially with the goats and small children. I too wonder where the hell everyone is; it's such a beautiful island and I'm amazed ( and glad sometines) that it's so quiet.
Anyway, thanks for the post.

#6 laverysean has been a member since 13/6/2013. Posts: 16

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