The chain of islands east of Bali is named Nusa Tenggara in modern Indonesia: the Southeastern Islands. Among geographers the archipelago is known as the Lesser Sunda Islands, as a separation from the Big Sunda Islands; Sumatera, Jawa and Borneo. For what tourist places concerned, there is nothing ‘small’ about Nusa Tenggara. In contrary: a region of this size with a rich cultural and natural diversity can’t be found elsewhere in the world.
From Lombok in the west to Timor in the east the group of islands is blessed with white sand beaches, clear water and beautiful coral reefs. The three crater lakes of Keli Mutu on Flores, which have different colors because of volcanic minerals, offer an almost surreal view. On the small island of Komodo, you can find the rarest spiecies of reptile.
In cultural way the islands are about as important. In the eastern part of the archipelago, women produce the most beautiful ikats of Indonesia. On Sumba, jockeys endanger themselves in the very old and dangerous Pasola-ritual. The fishermen on Lembata catch sperm whales by jumping on them from their small boats.
Far from mass tourism
The Lesser Sunda Islands are located between 8 and 11 degrees Southern lattitude. They stretch over a distance of 1300 km and form a central chain in the 5600 km long Indonesian archipelago. Nusa Tenggara has no less than 566 islands; 320 of them are so small, they even don’t have a name. On the map, five of the 42 inhabited islands are clear: Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores and Timor. Besides these ‘giants’ there are a number of smaller islands, which are worth while visiting as well.
With exception of Flores, the bigger islands are good to travel on the entire year. The best time for a visit is the dry season: from April until the end of October or November. In the period April until June, the islands are very green; towards September they are dull and brown.
Mass tourism hasn’t yet reached Nusa Tenggara. The provisions on the islands are decent. The traveling, especially to the more remote islands, demands initiative, an open travel scheme and a common sense of humor to compete with the unavoidable problems. But there are also other reasons to keep your travel scheme flexible; you never know what you will see: a whip-fight on Flores, a boat to the hardly known Ndao, a circumstantial on Bima.
On several places you can rent English speaking guides, but little knowledge of Bahasa Indonesia is very handy. Concervative dressing also makes the journey more enjoyable. Don’t forget that tourism is something new and that the islanders are not all used to almost naked foreigners.
The traveler should be prepared to be in the center of attention. Every time you should answer the same questions: Where are you from? How old are you? Are you married? Where are you going? Which religion do you have? You also have to take into account that eating, bathing ans sleeping outside the big cities takes place under the most elemental conditions and that the beaches – when there are no toilets – also serve as public restroom. Who can live with this is rewarded with a meeting with one of the richest areas in the world for what culture concerned.
Coral reefs, dragons and bushes
Travelers which visit Nusa Tenggara should not expect that they will find an exotic world of animals like in Borneo, Sulawesi and Papua. The relatively dry and rocky Lesser Sunda’s are not home to impressive rainforests or a big diversity in strange local animals. In fact these islands are kind of low populated with big animals.
Areas which are covered in shrubs are the habitat of deer, wild pigs, bats, snakes, dragons and other lizards. There are only a few local mammals: one kind op wild pig, one kind of mice and the couscous. deer, monkeys, rats and several pets have recently been introduced by man. The small cockatoo, singing birds, and other birds can also be found on the islands. Statistics report 56 local species, but their numbers are always small.
It’s a totally different view in the underwater world. The coral reefs belong to the richest ecosystems in the world. Nowhere else you can find a more diverse variety of aquatic spiecies. One single big reef in Nusa Tenggara can contain about 1000 species of fish, more than in all seas in Europe combined. The underwater world is very colorful. Brave anemone-fish defend their living house against the teasing hand of the diver. Groups of coral butterflies float between the reef walls, and other fish cross the reef in couples. The area houses big sea mammals like the sperm whale and the Indian seacow, which looks like a walrus without teeth. Along the border of the reefs you can find big pelagic fish: giant sharks, reef sharks and mantha’s, relatives of the shark and the ray.
The Komodo Dragon
The most impressive animal of Nusa Tenggara is the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis), the biggest living lizard in the world, which belongs on Komodo, Rinca and in Western Flores. This robust animal can reach 3 meters in length, and weights upto 150 kg. The heavyweight was only known in the Western world by the start of the 20th century, mainly because Komodo was inhabited. After the island had become the place for the banned, stories about dangerous, seven meter long crocodiles started to emerge. The stories were somewhat exaggerated, however these lizards can scare people. The giant lizard has a physique which looks like a snake: his jaws can move independently from each other, so it can swallow an entire prey which can even be larger than it’s mouth; it’s forked tongue is used for smelling as well as tasting.
The Komodo Dragon is one of the best equipped predators: it has a powerful tail to take down it’s prey, and strong jaws with sharp teeth to tear the victim apart. It’s saliva and stomach juices are very powerful; they decay horns, bones and hair.
Zoologist Alfred Russell Wallace, which toured through Indonesia from 1854 until 1862, was the first to remark that the size of big land animals changed drastically when crossing the sea lane from Bali to Lombok. From Lombok, there were no elephants, rhino’s or tigers anymore; in fact he didn’t see meat eating mammals at all, accept a species of cat, and no insect eaters as well.
Wallace found Australian species. He remarked that when he went more to the east, he found lesser Asian species and more Australian species. He concluded that the border between the two groups, the two small islands – Bali and Lombok – were as big as the differences between South America and Africa, or between North America and Europe. Still nothing on the map indicated a barrier which is similar with the Atlantic Ocean.
Back in Londok, Wallace reported his findings to the National Geographic Society in 1863. There, he drew a straight red line on the map of the Malay archipelago, between Borneo and Bali on one side and Lombok and Sulawesi on the other side. This line was later named ‘Wallace Lince’.
The zoologist was convinced that there was an actual barrier. On the peak of the last Ice Age, the sea level dropped 180 meters, so it was possible to walk from Singapore to Bali, but not further to the east; the deep Selat Lombok formed an impassible barrier.
During many decades scientists did discoveries which supported Wallace’s theory, but also some which didn’t. Among zoologists the ‘Wallace Line’ was mainly maintained, but among botanics it never was a success since there are no big regional differences in the Indonesian archipelago in the location of the about 2300 species of flora.
Most modern biographers say that the separation between the animals has at least as much to do with differences in habitat as a sea-barrier. Asian fauna is grows best in the western part of the archipelago because of the big precipitation and tropical forests, a habitat which is also found on mainland Southeast Asia. The fauna in the east is adapted to dry landscapes, which are also found in Australia.
However the theory of Wallace about impassible sea-lanes has almost been discarded, the area does show a transit between Asian and Australian fauna. In the beginning other biologists drew their own lines, between other islands, but nowadays most talk about a transitional zone, instead of a strict line, To honor the first biogeography in the world, this zone, as sub region of the Oriental zoogeographical region, is named Wallace.
Besides several small areas in the west, the vegetation is kind of scarce; it consists of flora which can stand drought very well, like several eucalypus-species. The wide sandel-wood once was the main export product of Timor. Now, the Santalum alba only grows in a few remote areas, however the government has tried to replant the trees. The fire- and drought-resistant lontar-palm (Borassus sundaicus), one of the most important useful plants in the area is an important source of food.
|While most visitors enter Komodo National Park (KNP) through the gateway cities of Labuan Bajo in the west of Flores or Bima in eastern Sumbawa, the departure point for your trip is actually Denpasar, Bali.
Indonesia Air Transport (IAT)
Depart : Everyday
DPS – LBJ : 10.00 – 11.30
LBJ – DPS :
12.00 – 13.30
Y CLASS : IDR 751.000
H CLASS : IDR 696.000
Q CLASS : IDR 641.000 (NON REFUND TICKET)
Trans Nusa Airlines (TGN)
Depart : Everyday
DPS – LBJ : 10.00 – 11.50 & 13.00 – 14.20
LBJ – DPS VIA BMU (BIMA) : 12.05 – 12.35
BMU-DPS : 12.50 – 13.45
LBJ – DPS :
14.35 – 15.15
Y CLASS : IDR 761.000
L CLASS : IDR 651.000
M CLASS :
The gateway cities of Labuan Bajo and Bima are connected to Denpasar, Bali by overland buses.
By Sea (ferry):
Travel time: approximately 36 hours
The gateway cities of Labuan Bajo and Bima are also connected to Denpasar, Bali by inter-island ferry.
Contact the Indonesia Sea Transportation Company (PELNI) at Jalan Raya Kuta No. 299, Tuban – Bali (Tel: 0361 – 763 963) to reserve a seat on the KM. Tilong Kabila, which departs Benoa Port, Bali bound for Bima and Labuan Bajo
Fortnightly (every two weeks) on Saturdays: 09.00-20.00 (next day).
One-way ticket (as of 10/6/06) from Rp. 143,000.00 – Rp. 435,000.00
Fortnightly (every two weeks) on Thursdays: 08.00-11.00 (next day).
One-way ticket (as of 10/6/06) from Rp. 143,000.00 – Rp. 435,000.00
By Sea (live-aboard):
Komodo National Park is serviced by a wide range of live-aboard boats, with return packages to Komodo National Park from a variety of departure points, including Bali, Lombok, Bima and Labuan Bajo
Prices (as of 10/6/06) are ranging from USD 230.00 – USD 295.00 / person / night.
From Gateway Cities to Komodo National Park (KNP)
You can easily organize a shared boat charter by local boat from either ports at Labuan Bajo or Bima (Sape) to the two major points of access in the Park: Loh Liang (on Komodo Island) or Loh Buaya (on Rinca Island)
Charter price (as of 10/6/06) – excluding meals, KNP entrance fee etc:
Labuan Bajo: KNP: Rp. 750,000 – 1,500,000 per boat / day
Bima (Sape): KNP: Rp. 1,500.000 – 2,000.000 per boat / day
|Panca Nugraha wrote an excellent article in the JP about this amazing island that lies about 70 kilometres west of Sumbawa.
Bungin, the only island in Indonesia that keeps growing Panca Nugraha, The Jakarta Post, taram
If Bungin Island, a small coral island lying about four kilometers off the coast of Sumbawa in West Nusa Tenggara province, had a mascot, it would undoubtedly be the paper-eating goat.
Because of the island’s infertile soil, there is very little grass or plants for Bungin’s goat population to eat, so they survive on paper and other bits of garbage.
“Goats here eat paper and rags because there’s no grass,” said a young islander, Coco, who with his friends is eager to show visitors the phenomenon.
Bungin lies about 70 kilometers west of the Sumbawa regency capital Sumbawa Besar. It is about a five-hour overland journey east from the provincial capital Mataram, and then a boat crossing from Lombok to Sumbawa island. From there, it is a relatively short trip to reach Bungin.
According to the local administration on Bungin, 609 families, or 2,826 people, live on the island.
“This is probably the most densely populated island (in Indonesia), and the only island which keeps growing in size,” said Bungin Island village administration head Sopian. He said a 2002 survey indicated the island covered six hectares, and now it covered eight.
Houses on the island are generally only about 1.5 meters apart from each other. The distinctive Bungin stilt-houses now cover much of the island, and in some cases their roofs meet.
One of the main reason Bungin Island can continue to accommodate its growing population, and also why the island itself is growing, is its traditional marriage law. This law requires would-be couples to prepare the site on which they will build their house before they get married.
A couple must first gather a supply of coral to reclaim a piece of land on the outer part of the island. Each couple is allocated a small piece of land measuring about six-by-twelve meters. So Bungin grows a little bit with each new marriage.
The entire community will pitch in to help a couple gather the coral, reclaim the land from the sea and build a house.
Bungin Island can be called a man-made island. Although the Sumbawa office of the National Land Agency conducts topographical survey every five years, none of the islanders holds land ownership documents.
“This is not part of the mainland, but coral rocks formed by residents. That’s why residents do not require land certificates, but only an ownership document issued by the village office,” said Sopian.
Most, if not all, of the Bungin islanders earn a living as fishermen. They are descendants of the Bajo and Bugis tribes, originating from South Sulawesi.
According to folklore, when the first people arrived on Bungin the island only covered about three hectares. The first inhabitants were followers of Panglima Mayo, a freedom fighter from South Sulawesi. They were forced out of Sulawesi by Dutch colonial troops in 1818.
“That’s why they speak the Bajo dialect here, and not the local Sumbawa language,” said Sopian.
Despite the reliance on the sea, Bungin is far more prosperous than many of the fishing villages in West Nusa Tenggara.
Nearly all of the families own electronic appliances, at least a television set equipped with a digital receiver. The children are no strangers to PlayStation, and if they don’t have one at home they can go to several little businesses on the island and play for an hourly rate.
Because men on the island go out to sea often for months at a time, the women are left behind to take care of the families and see to their daily needs.
“My husband sails out to sea and sometimes returns only after three months. We are the ones who support the family,” said a fisherman’s wife, Hasnah.
Hasnah and the other housewives look for fish, shells and sea cucumbers around the island, to supplement their families’ income. They can earn between Rp 15,000 and Rp 30,000 per day from the sea.
Because the island is so small, Bungin is by necessity a very tightly knit community. Most residents cannot imagine living elsewhere and very few ever move away, despite being able to afford a house on the mainland.
“There are usually a lot of temptations on the mainland, and the feeling of insecurity,” said Sopian.
The infrastructure on Bungin has gradually improved over the years thanks to the residents’ relative economic prosperity. They have access to electricity and clean water, and there are two elementary schools on Bungin and a community health center.
The islanders are still waiting for government assistance to build junior and senior high schools, and are ready to prepare the sites themselves.
Bungin has recently become a tourist attraction in Sumbawa, with domestic and foreign visitors eager for a look at the island.
But one thing has never changed on the island — even though every house has a bathroom, none of them has a toilet.
Residents rely on the sea for more than just fishing.
Besides the hospitality of the locals, there are two things that will surely leave a lasting impression on visitors to Bungin — the delicious taste of the goat satay and the distance to the bathroom if one needs to answer the call of nature.
Trip to the island from Lombok: SW. 012
06.00. Am. drives to port of Labuhan Lombok and to cross to Alas strait by ferry (1.30 min.). Arrived at Pototano/West Sumbawa Island and continue drive to the former ferry harbour of Alas to take local boat for the most populated island in the world, called “Bungin Island” mingle to people in the island and on the way back to port of Alas, boating to another island of Kaung. Lunch box will be serve en-route (drink serve : one bottle of soft drink and one bottle of cold water). Return to the hotel at late afternoon by the same route.
Name Bungin island, Wide 6 ha ,Population 2.612 Ethnic group Bajo (originaly from South Sulawesi) Family house 531 fam,Head of household 599,
99 % fishermen, Family with toilet 25,Neighbor island Kaung island.
|DAY 01 : DENPASAR – LOMBOK
On arrival at airport of Mataram, our guide will meet you and transfer to hotel for accommodation. Fullday tour to observe the native Sasak tribe. Drive south to Rambitan/Sade village to see their traditional hyperbolic-shaped huts supported by roughly hewn wooden beams and learn about traditional customs and culture. On the way, stops will be made at Sukarare to observe hand weaving, and Penunjak – one of the many pottery villages in Lombok , where clay pots of simple design and primitive style are produced. Return to your hotel.
DAY 02 : LOMBOK
Breakfast at hotel. Fullday tour explores the coral island of Gili Air, one of three small islands in Northwest Lombok. There, you can skin-dive or snorkel in the offshore underwater gardens, with their spectacular corals and marine life. (Diving and snorkel fares are not included in this tour fare). Or, go swimming in the crystal clear water and laze around on the white sandy beach. Lunch boxes will be provided. On the return several stops will be made including Lendang Banjur, a typical country market, and Pusuk to view the beautiful panorama of the northern coast of the island. Afternoon return to Hotel. (B,L)
DAY 03 : LOMBOK – SUMBAWA BESAR
Breakfast at hotel. Driving the Neighbor Island Sumbawa is really an unforgettable experience. Drive through Lombok Island to Labuan Lombok harbor, taking a ferry crossing Alas strait. On arrival at Poto Tano harbor, proceed to Sumbawa Besar for accommodation at Kencana Beach Hotel. (B,L,D)
DAY 04 : SUMBAWA BESAR – BIMA
Breakfast at hotel. Visiting Dalam Loka Palace which built up on 99 wooden stilts, Bala Kuning (Yellow house ) the private museum of Sumbawa Royal family. Lunch at local restaurant then drive to Bima around 250 km or about 5 hours drive via well surfaced highway, on the stops for taking picture and according to local happenings. Accommodation and dinner at Lawata Beach Hotel. (B,L,D)
DAY 05 : BIMA – KOMODO
Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to Sape harbor about 40 km to the South East (1 hour) and board on a wooden boat (a local boat which have been modified to enable and suitable for carrying tourist. Equipped by radio navigation, electricity, and toilet, one big cabin that has-6 – 12beds, life jacket and mattress.) Then cruise to Komodo Island for 6 hours. Late afternoon arrive at Komodo Island. Accommodation on board. (B,L,D)
DAY 06 : KOMODO – LABUAN BAJO – RUTENG
After breakfast walk for 1.5 miles to Banugulung to see the activities of the giant Monitor Lizard “Komodo Dragon” which was scientifically described in 1912 as VARANUS KOMODOENSIS, which is up to 3 m long and about 150 kg, weight. The total number of these lizards is estimated at 5.000 – 7.000 inhabited in Komodo, Padar, Rinca Island and Western Flores. Return to the based and an opportunity to swim or snorkel on clean and white sandy beach. Lunch will be served on boat and continue cruise to Labuan Bajo. Then drive overland to Ruteng – a cool and small town as the capital city of Manggarai Regency where major Mangarainese tribe dwelt. On the way stops will be made at Lembor and Cancar where you can enjoy the beautiful panorama of rice fields with lush and dry hills as the back round. On arrival direct check-in at Agung III or similar. (B,L,D)
DAY 07 : RUTENG – BAJAWA
Breakfast at hotel. Onto Ruteng Puu – Manggarainese traditional village to see their unique slander-shaped houses and be with local people. Continue drive to the East to Bajawa – another cool and small town as a capital city of Ngada Regency (home of Ngada and Nagekeo tribes). Stops will be made “Ranamese” Lake, and snapshot at magnificent peak of Mt. Inerie – an active volcano and Aimere for having lunch. On arrival at Bajawa drive 2 km to Boloji to attend dance performance of Bajawanese followed by “Suling” – cluster of Bamboo flute concert music. Accommodation and meals at HOTEL KEMBANG or ARIESTA. (B,L,D)
DAY 08 : BAJAWA
Breakfast at hotel. Explore traditional village of Bajawa tribes. Visit Bena – a megalithic village where people do preserve their ancestral spirits believed and way of life which can be seen in their “Ngadhu” and “Bhaga” – conical thatched roof huts symbolized their Male and Female ancestral spirits. On the way stop on the slope of Inerie active volcano for taking pictures. Return to Bajawa for Lunch at Local Restaurant. Afternoon drive to the North to Soa sub district to see Masu, Seso and Mude traditional village. Onto Mengeruda – a natural hot spring water for relaxing and taking bath.. Return to hotel. (B,L,D)
DAY 09 : BAJAWA – DETUSOKO
Breakfast at hotel. Continue drive overland for 5 hours to Detusoko (175 km). Continue drive overland for 5 hours to Detusoko (175 km) through scenic road where you can enjoy beautiful panorama of the valley with sea as the background. Stops will be made at Wogo, another traditional Bajawanese village and Boawae – village of Nagekeo tribes to observe their tradition and culture, Ende for having lunch at a local restaurant, Onekore village – the center of “Ikat” hand-weaving with Endenese typical style. Proceed to Detusoko. Accommodation and meals at Missionary GuestHouses – ST. FRANCISKUS. (B,L,D)
DAY 10 : DETUSOKO – KELIMUTU – MAUMERE
After an early morning breakfast at 5.30 drive up to Kelimutu volcano to see the three colored lakes. Upon arrival walk for 1,5 km and then ascend 127 steps to top to view Kelimutu’s green, blue and black lakes. A Dutch Geologist discovered Kelimutu in 1914; at the time the lakes were red, blue and white. Descend to Moni village to view beautiful hand woven clothes and to visit Kowanara village famous for its traditional Lionese houses. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant in Paga Beach. . Proceed to Maumere with several stops made according to local happenings. Accommodation and meals at FLORES SAO RESORT or SEA WORLD CLUB. (B,L,D)
DAY 11 : MAUMERE – KUPANG
Breakfast at hotel. Morning free at leisure. After lunch transfer to the Airport to depart to Kupang – Timor Island. On arrival at Eltari Airport of Kupang, transfer to KRISTAL HOTEL or similar for accommodation and dinner. (B,L,D)
DAY 12 : KUPANG – SOE – KUPANG
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Soe, a distance of 110 km for 3 hours through beautiful panoramas of rice fields, farms, jungles and savanna. Stops will be made for taking pictures and local happenings. Upon arrival at Soe visit several villages in order to learn about local culture and beliefs. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant in Soe. Return to Kupang with stops at Oebelo, a Rottenness village famous for its unique music instrument called “Sasando”, made from “lontar” palm leaves, and Tarus village to observe the process of making “laru” – local liquor. Return to hotel. (B,L,D)
DAY 13 : KUPANG – WAINGAPU -WAIKABUBAK
Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to the airport for flight to Waingapu – Sumba Island. On arrival at Mau’Hau Airport of Waingapu – East Sumba, our guide will meet you and transfer to local restaurant for lunch. After lunch drive to overland to Waikabubak – West Sumba a distance of 137 km (4 hours). On the wau stop will be made according to local happenings. On arrival at Waikabubak direct check-in to HOTEL MANANDANG or similar for accommodation and meals. (B,L,D)
DAY 14 : WAIKABUBAK
Breakfast at hotel. Visiting some villages which located at small hills nearby the city of Waikabubak such as Puunaga, Tarung and Tabar, then to the local market to see the activities of local people in selling and buying their daily need and hand-weaving. Return to hotel for lunch. After lunch drive to Wanokaka district to visit Waigali and Praigoli villages for traditional houses which decorated by horns of huge water buffaloes in front of it, the oldest stone grave called “Watu Kajiwa” which believed as their ancestor’s boats. (B,L,D)
DAY 15 : WAIKABUBAK – WAINGAPU
Breakfast at hotel. Drive back to Waingapu with stops at Waibakul and Pasunga (Anakalang area) to see the greatest stone graves and traditional houses of West Sumbanese. Upon arrival at Waingapu direct to local restaurant for having lunch. Afternoon city tour to visit traditional Market, harbor and East Sumba villages nearby. Accommodations at MERLIN HOTEL or similar for accommodation and dinner.- (B,L,D)
DAY 16 : WAINGAPU – DENPASAR
Breakfast at hotel. transfer to the airport for flight to Denpasar- Bali.(B)