Photo: Katewel.

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Katewel (Katewela) is a tiny coastal Bugis settlement on the north coast of West Sumba, built around a muddy, mangrove-filled, crocodile-infested estuary. The beach here isn’t much, and you can’t swim (did we mention the crocodiles?), but Katewel is worth a visit to see the traditional salt making.

Splendid sunsets reflected in the mudflats are worth a snap or two as well. Sea salt production can be found in several areas in the drier parts of Indonesia — we’ve witnessed it before on the east coast of Bali, but here the process is a little different.

This is what it is all about. Photo taken in or around Katewel, Waitabula, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

This is what it is all about. Photo: Sally Arnold

Folk in Katewel import bags of salt infused sand from neighbouring Sumbawa, which seemed odd to us as they have both sand and sea water right at their doorstep. They then processes the salty sand by filtering through local salty seawater to produce a very salty brine. The brine is then “cooked” or spread over large metal trays on driftwood fires. The producers scrape the salt crystals and stir the mixture as the water evaporates.

In Bali they rely on the sun, but here production is much quicker and can continue through the wet season. This method produces many kilograms of salt at a time, and some huts have two batches on the go. It seems to be a booming business as the thatch salt huts make up a small village metres from the shore, in front of the village proper.

A mosque with a view. Photo taken in or around Katewel, Waitabula, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

A mosque with a view. Photo: Sally Arnold

The huts are unbearably hot and smokey inside (for us). Most other industry in Katewel is based around fishing as the area is too dry for much agriculture. A picturesque tin-roof mosque sits on the shore end of the town. Katewel is about 18 kilometres northeast of Waitabula and borders Mananga Amba ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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18km northeast of Waitabula

Location map for Katewel

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