How to get to and from: Waitabula

How to get to Waitabula

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Tambolaka Airport (TMC) is one and a half kilometres from the centre of Waitabula, so it’s walking distance if your bag is light. The terminal was shiny and new when we visited in March 2016, with comfortable lounge areas and a minimart for snacks and drinks. A share taxi to Waitabula is 30,000 rupiah per person, and to Waikabubak, 70,000 rupiah per person. Some hotels offer free airport transfers. An ojek to Waitabula is 10,000 rupiah.

Garuda fly daily to and from Denpasar, Bali (1 hour) and Kupang in West Timor (65 mins). Wings Air (a subsidiary of Lion Air) has daily flights to and from Denpasar, Bali (80 mins). Note that Wings limit baggage allowance to 10kg.


Waitabula’s bus terminal is in the local market. Daily buses run to Waingapu passing Waikabubak and Lewa, departing at 06:00 for 80,000 rupiah and taking 6 hours).

Smaller “travel” buses run the route more frequently and leave when full between 07:00 and 14:00 (100,000 rupiah).

Minibuses to Waikabubak depart between 08:00 and 17:00 when full (15,000 rupiah; 1.5 hours).
Minibuses to Bondo Kodi leave between 08:00 and 17:00 when full (20,000 rupiah; 1 hour).

Be wary catching buses from Waitabula as it may be assumed you are chartering the bus even if other passengers are on board — make it clear that you want a bis umum — public bus.


Ferries depart Waikelo, six kilometres from the centre of Waitabula, three times per week to Sape in Sumbawa with a connection to Labuanbajo in Flores. It’s 70,000 rupiah and takes 9 hours. Departure times are Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday at 09:00


Both Hotel Sinar Tambolaka and Hotel Sumba Sejatera offer car and motorbike rentals. An ojek to local beaches is 50,000 rupiah one way, and to the airport is 10,000 rupiah. A daily rate can be negotiated between 150,000 and 250,000 rupiah, depending on distances.

Many drivers are wary of venturing into the Kodi area unless they have family connections. Don’t travel after dark in this area as it’s known for bandits.

Local guides Philip Renggi and Hugo Dalpe, both based in Waitabula, can organise car hire either with or without a guide or driver.
Philip Renggi: T: (0813) 3710 7845;
Hugo Dalpe: T: (0813) 92655696;;;