A great full day out.
Published/Last edited or updated: 19th April, 2016
Should you be able to hire a motorbike, or have the funds to arrange a car and driver, an outstanding loop north from Bima and looping around to Sape and back will fill a full day of travel.
While we did this solo on a motorbike in April 2016 and had no problems save some crummy stretches of road, we were advised after the fact that it is safer to do this trip either with a few of you, or in a car — especially the stretch between Tawali and Sape, which is very isolated. Before embarking on this trip, ask in Bima for the latest advice.
From Bima, the road runs north through the villages of Kole and Tolowata (among others) before hitting the coast and running east towards towering Gunung Api on Pulau Sangaeng. Just before you hit the coast, there is a smaller road that runs off to the west to Oi Fanda Beach in Ambalawi district — we didn’t see this beach ourselves (we didn’t know about it till after we had rode the loop) but it looks well worth investigating.
Once you hit the northern coast, the road runs along a fairly scrappy stretch of beach, offering some great views out to Gunnug Api, before turning inland to run in to the northern hub of Talawi. At Talawi you’ll reach a point where the road splits left and right. The left takes you to Sangaeng village and the right to Sape (eventually).
Take the left veer and ride for about 20 minutes (just keep following the main road — there are no signs) and you’ll eventually be deposited at the waterfront. Here there is a small harbour office and a pier running out to sea. The harbour master speaks good English and can be helpful in sorting out a boat to Pulau Sangaeng, but the cost is substantial — he quoted us 600,000 rupiah.
Park at the pier and walk along the beach for about 10 minutes and you’ll reach the pinisi boat-building operations. This is one of two places you can see these grand boats being built in Indonesia — the other is Bira in Sulawesi. The workers are happy to have you walk around and pose for pics. While they didn’t ask for any money, they happily took the pack of cigarettes we offered.
Take a walk through the village behind the boat building and listen out for the click clack of weaving — there are plenty of women weaving away and if you have an interest, they’ll be happy to welcome you in.
Once you’re done at Sangaeng, ride back to Talawi, and either start the ride back to Bima along the way you came, or take the right veer and continue to Sape. If you continue to Sape, bear in mind the road degrades badly, and the last 20 kilometres before Sape is in pretty wretched condition. The scenery though, is very pretty as you’ll pass bay after bay. Two particularly noteworthy ones are Pantai Pai — where a low-lying peninsula juts out into the sea, and, quite close to Sape, very photogenic Lamere village.
Once you reach Sape, either call it a day and sleep there (there is basic accommodation in the harbour, just before the ferry gates) or continue the ride back to Bima — which takes around one and a half hours. Before driving this, take a look at your watch and check you have enough time. Riding in the late afternoon hours, and especially evening, is not recommended. If you are running late, overnight in Sape.
A couple of points of interest lie along this ride. The spectacular viewpoint, Jurang Pengantin, offers excellent jungle views over the surrounds, well presenting the wildness of Sumbawa. Further along, by the village of Maria, is a collection of more than 40 traditional rice barns, gathered from the wide surrounding area to create a tourist attraction. The turnoff is not signposted, but anyone will be able to point you in the right direction as it is a very popular attraction with domestic tourists.
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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