Photo: Ratenggaro Village.

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.

Go back to Sumba main page »

Ratenggaro Village

Our rating:

Sumba, you’ve outdone yourself. Ratenggaro village has some of the craziest, most exaggerated Brobdingnagian rooftops in the whole of Sumba — the locals told us they reach up to 25 metres tall.

With its superb coastal location and reasonably good road infrastructure, Ratenggaro is one of the more commonly visited villages in Sumba. However don’t that let put you off, as it’s rather spectacular, and there was still not another tourist in sight when we stopped by.

Plenty of attic space. Photo taken in or around Ratenggaro Village, Waitabula, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Plenty of attic space. Photo: Sally Arnold

Villagers do take advantage of the “invasion”, and we were offered handicrafts to buy, mostly small wooden carvings. The prices are good and there is little hassle. As with other villages in Sumba, the reason for the tall roofs is to honour the Marapu, the ancestor spirits.

Look up! Photo taken in or around Ratenggaro Village, Waitabula, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Look up! Photo: Sally Arnold

Their story is that like many other villages we visited: Ratenggaro was razed by fire and had government assistance to rebuild. The plan was to create a “tourist attraction” by making their roofs the tallest in Sumba. Regardless that it may be purposely manufactured, its marvellously impressive and the villages here treat their houses as any other village — it’s not Disneyland.

Stunning. Photo taken in or around Ratenggaro Village, Waitabula, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Stunning. Photo: Sally Arnold

During our visit, after the obligatory betelnut session, we were invited to see the interior of one of the houses. We were shown an impressive collection of chicken feet and feathers — parts of sacrificed animals kept for good juju. Some 500 metres from the village along the shore, an assembly of monumental tombs lines the coast. From this small headland, the view looking back towards the village, with the tombs in the foreground, and spires of the roofs reflected on the river inlet, is magic.

Across the river from Rantenggaro, lies the equally impressive village of Wainyapu. As the crow flies, Wainyapu is only 500 metres away, however it’s 14-kilometre road journey. We heard there are crocodiles in the river, so it may be wise to check before attempting to cross on foot at ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

Don’t miss the boat!

Please subscribe to to read the rest of this article, or log in here.

Subscribing to Travelfish costs A$35 per year and it gets you access to more than 200 downloadable guides to specific destinations, fabulous discount coupons and 50% off our personalised travel planning service. Sign up here.


Ratenggaro Village
50km southwest of Waitabula

Location map for Ratenggaro Village

Start planning your holiday today

Sent every Monday, our newsletter is full of travel advice, news & special deals. Read past issues.


Popular attractions in Waitabula

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Waitabula.

Best places to stay in Waitabula

A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Waitabula.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Waitabula.
 Read up on where to eat on Waitabula.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Waitabula.
 Read up on how to get to Waitabula.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Waitabula? Please read this.
 Browse the web securely while travelling with TunnelBear. Try with a 7–day free trial.

See below for more sights and activities in Waitabula that are listed on

Top of page

Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Waitabula? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Indonesia.

Top of page