Photo: Cooling off.

Sumba is so big, we’ve split it up into areas, select one of the below for detailed accommodation and food listings in that area. Sights and general overviews for Sumba as a whole can be found via the icons above. Don’t know where to start? Read an overview of Sumba’s different areas.

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Welcome to the wild west. Waikabubak, the largest town in West Sumba, is just over an hour east of Tambolaka airport. By large town, we mean a collection of dusty streets with a sprawling traditional market, a few Chinese-run shophouses and government offices.

Waikabubak has the edge on other small Indonesian towns of this type, as dotted amongst the more recent streets, every forested hill is home to traditional villages. A little cooler here than the coast, highland Waikabubak is a good place to base yourself for a day or two to explore, and is a gateway to the central and southern areas of Sumba.

Welcome to Bondo Ede village Photo taken in or around Waikabubak, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Welcome to Bondo Ede village Photo: Sally Arnold

You need not venture far to see some sights, as within the centre of town, Tarung and neighbouring Waitabar village, along with Bodo Ede, Tambelar and Elu villages are all easily reached on foot (or more quickly by ojek). These villages are familiar with the strange habits of foreign tourists, however have a read of our guide to visiting traditional villages, as the rules still apply. If this is your first stop in Sumba, or your first time visiting traditional villages here, it may be a good idea to employ a local guide.

Around three kilometres east of the centre Praijing, Bondo Marotto and Gollu villages are in close proximity. Nine kilometres north of the centre you’ll find Rate Wana and Tambera villages, and a further six and a half kilometres north, Geilo Koko village.

Impressive scene at Gallu Bakul village Photo taken in or around Waikabubak, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Impressive scene at Gallu Bakul village Photo: Sally Arnold

Further afield, in Central Sumba near Anakalang, Pasunga, Gallu Bakul, and Ana Bura villages have some of the largest megalithic tombs in Sumba. Combined a visit with nearby Mata Yangu Waterfall — worth the trip to the area alone.

Beware of getting “village fatigue” — better to pick one or two that sound interesting or are conveniently located for you. Saying that, just when we thought we were getting tired, we’d enter a village and a whole new experience would lift our sprits and change our mind. And if you’re tired of village visits, to the west of Waikabubak, on the way to Waitabula, a couple of hydroelectricity producing waterfalls Waikelo Sawah and to the southwest, Lokomboro, offer a nice break and a place for a refreshing swim. In this area, you can also visit the traditional village of Wee Leo.

Beautiful Tarung village Photo taken in or around Waikabubak, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Beautiful Tarung village Photo: Sally Arnold

Although there’s little to none in the tourist category of accommodation in Waikabubak, plenty of local business-style hotels will provide somewhere to rest your weary head. A good selection of restaurants for such a small town will see you won’t starve, but you won’t be nominating them for Michelin stars either. When the WiFi doesn’t work at your hotel, which will probably be most of the time, head to Plaza Telcom Warnet on Jalan Pattimura or get yourself a Telcomsel 3G sim card.

Waikabubak is a transport hub for connections to East Sumba. There are buses and trucks to some of the more remote areas too, all leaving from the bus terminal near the market.

A horn or two at Waitabar village Photo taken in or around Waikabubak, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

A horn or two at Waitabar village Photo: Sally Arnold

If you’ve been loving the megalithic carvings, you can buy one to take home from a couple of Art Shops — Abdul Hamid (99 Jalan Ahmad Yani; T: (0387) 21 170) is near the bus terminal (signboarded “Art Shop”), and Arca Art Collection (Jalan Bhayangkara; T: (0387) 21 267) is to the west heading out of town. Small stone carvings start at around 200,000 rupiah, up to 50,000,000 rupiah for something that will really impress the ancestors. They both also sell wood carvings, ikat and jewellery. Antoni Art Shop (signboard reads Sumba Ikat, Jalan Cakrawala; T: (0853) 3858 5545) was newly opened in March 2016 when we visited and displayed a very nice collection of ikat with prices from 250,000 to 7,000,000 rupiah.

A helpful tourist office is on the outskirts of town, near Hotel Artha. They would love you to visit as it seems they don’t get many foreigners popping in. They have some colourful brochures (some in English). Tourist office: 1 Jalan Teratai, Waikabubak (corner of Jalan Veteran); open Monday -Friday 07:00-14:30

Likewise, the National Park Office to the west of town can provide you with permits for Manupeu Tanah Daru National Park, and have a lot of information about the endemic birds of Sumba. Manupeu Tanah Daru National Park Office: Jalan Adyaksa, Km 3, Waikabubak; T: (0387) 22 163; (0387) 22 286.

The Post office is next door to Hotel Pelita at 1 Jalan Bhayangkara, and the police station is opposite, and slightly to the west on the same street.

Two BRI branches have ATMs at 30 Jalan Gajah Mada, and 48 Jalan Bhayangkara, Waikabubak. A couple more ATMs are outside RSK Lende Moripa Hospital.

At the southern end of town at Jalan Jaga Ngara, Honey Laundry can wash and iron for 10,000 rupiah per kilo.

Waikabubak has two hospitals — private Rumah Sakit Kristen Lende Moripa 2 Jalan El Tari; T: (0387) 21 085, and Public Hospital RSU Waikabubak Jalan Adiyaksa; T: (0387) 21 021. A chemist and private doctors can be found at 41 Jalan Bhayangkara.

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Waikabubak.
 Read up on where to eat on Waikabubak.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Waikabubak.
 Read up on how to get to Waikabubak.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
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