Beyond Bali, the Wild Indonesian Island of Sumba Is for In-The-Know Travelers

The Indonesian island of Sumba offers the kind of sanctuary that travelers yearn for. A Sumba sojourn is a “change your life” kind of trip, offering a lost island forgotten in time with unspoiled beaches, rice paddy plateaus, savannah bush, and dense jungle—just an hour’s flight beyond Bali, but a world away.

Situated east of Bali within the archipelagic galaxy of Indian Ocean isles, Sumba is an ovoid, rural island—a bright emerald drop in a sapphire sea with virtually no traffic, tourist traps, or day trippers. The island is wild, in all senses of the word: from its untamed natural beauty, to the fierce pride in its culture, to its ability to challenge travelers’ expectations.

The Sumbanese way of life, in particular, is what makes this island so distinct. Most of Sumba’s residents are subsistence farmers, divided into clans that each speak a unique dialect. They live in rural villages of traditional huts with high-peaked roofs stretched up like taffy to the sky. Most people wear a medley of Western clothing and homespun ikat fabrics, harboring tucked-away scimitars, known as parangs. Many practice Marapu, an animist religion found only on Sumba centered around ancestral worship, animal sacrifice during funerals, burials in megalithic tombs, and ceremonial rites performed by shamans called ratos.

Indonesia, Sumba island, Madala villageAndrea Pistolesi

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