East Nusa Tenggara


The Islands

The islands of East Nusa Tenggara have been shaped by the power and force of an enormous chain of volcanoes which begins in the north of Sumatra and stretches east across Java, the legendary 'Ring of Fire'. The province consists of over 550 islands, but is dominated by the three main islands of Flores, Sumba, and Timor. Occupying a unique position at the junction of Australian and Asian submarine ridges marked by the Wallace Line, it is one of the world's most dynamic and exotic marine environments in the world. The arid landscape of eastern and southeastern Nusa Tenggara is the result of hot, dry winds blasting in from the Australian continent. In fact, in May coastal areas not a drop of rain falls during most of the year.

"Flores", is a Portuguese name, which means "flower", and ideally describes the beauty to be found here. This Long Island between Sumbawa and Timor is crowded with volcanoes and mountains, dividing it into several regions with distinct languages and traditions. Predominantly Catholic and heavily influenced by the Portuguese, there are many examples of a strong European cultural heritage, like the easter procession held in Larantuka, and the Royal regalia of the former king in Maumere.

Formerly known as the Sandal Wood Island, Sumba is now famous for its horses and a superb style of ikat cloth. Spirits, both ancestral and natural, are worshipped. West sumba is famous its enormous megalithic tombs and traditional thatched and peaked huts raised on stilts. Incredible rituals are a way of life here, such as the "Pasola", where hundred of horsemen fling spears at each other in an annual tradition. Many traditional ceremonies, all paying homage to the spirit, take place from July to October, including the building of 'adat or traditional houses. Burial ceremonies require the sacrifice of hundreds of pigs, water buffaloes, horses, and dogs. Other ceremonies include "Pajura" or traditional boxing, festivals for the Lunar New Year in October and November, horse races and ritual dances.

Timor is the Principal island in the province in terms of population and its is here that the provincial capital of Kupang is located. Timor is rich in culture, beautiful scenery, and magnificent wildlife. The isolated communities have developed a variety of architectural styles. Unlike other parts of East Nusa Tenngara, the roads in Timor are generally good and public transportation is relatively well developed. Kupang is the gateway to Nusa Tenggara with regular, direct flights to and from Darwin in Australia as well as with rest of the archipelago.

Other places of interest:

Kupang Camplong
Semau Island Maumere
Ende Mt. Kelimutu
Labuanbajo Komodo Island
Larantuka Lamalera Whale Hunting
Waikabubak Anakalang
Pasola

Kupang

The provincial capital of East Nusa Tenggara in western Timor has proximately 522.944 inhabitants, making it the largest urban center in the province. It is the center of government, business, trade, and education. 'The only sandal-wood oil factory in Indonesia is located in this town.

Other Places of Interest

 

Camplong

A lovely community about 45 km from Kupang with regular market days and a natural swimming pool, where local people bathe, do their laundry, and socialize as they have for thousands of years.

Camplong is also a forest reserve protecting rare animals such as the Cervus Timorensis deer and several species of parrots and monkeys.

Other Places of Interest

 

Semau Island

Thirty minutes by boat from Kupang, this unatained island paradise is well worth stop over. The surrounding crystal- clear waters offer exceptional snorkeling and swimming. Bamboo bungalows are available right on the white sandy beach, and you can barbeque your freshly-cough dinner while enjoying a spectacular sunset.

Other Places of Interest

 

Maumere

A port town on the northeastern coast of Flores is a good place to stop over on the way to Ende or Larantuka. It is well connected by air with Kupang, Denpasar and Ujung Pandang, and is noted for its good beaches. The bay of Maumere is considered the best diving spot in Flores , a paradise for divers, underwater photographers, and anyone interested in marine biology. Ledalero museum on the outskirts of Maumere has an interesting collection of the ethnological objects from region. Visitors are welcome but advance arrangementss should be made. Ledalero is also home to a major Catholic Seminary where many Florinese are trained.

Other Places of Interest

 

Ende

This town contains the home in exile of the first Indonesian president Soekarno during the early period of nationalist movements in 1936. The house has been repaired and is today a museum.

Other Places of Interest

 

Mt. Kelimutu

East Nusa Tenggara's most-visited natural wonder, and one of Indonesia's most mysterious and dramatic sights, is found on top of this mountain, some 66 km from Ende, or 83 km from Maumere.

The spectacular view of its three crater lakes, each with a distinct color, is not only a major tourist attraction, but the stuff of myth and legends. The lakes have continuously changed their colors over the years: today the largest is light turquoise, the next olive green and the third black. The local people go to the first when they die, the old to the second, and the black lake is reserved for thieves and murderers.

Other Places of Interest

 

Labuanbajo

A little fishing town at the extreme western part of Flores, this town serves as jumping -off point for the trip to Komodo Island. It is a beautiful area for water skiing, wind surfing, fishing, and many other marine activities.

Other Places of Interest

 

Komodo Island

A small island of 280 square km, Komodo is located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores. It is famous for its giant lizards, considered the last of their kind remaining in the world today, the Komodo Dragon. Called "ora" by the local people, Komodo ".Dragon" (Varanus Komodoensis) is actually a giant monitor lizard. Growing up to 3 to 4 meters in length, its ances-tors roamed the earth up to about half a million years ago. Komodos live on goats, deer, and even the carcasses of its own kind. The only human population on the island is at the fishing village called Komodo who supplement their income breeding goats which are used to feed the lizards. The Komodo is protected by the law and although they are considered harmless, it is advisable to keep them at a distance. Komodo Island is now a nature reserve, home to a number of rare bird species, deer, and wild pigs, which are prey to the lizards as well.

Other Places of Interest

 

Larantuka

A little port nestled at the base of a tall hill at the eastern end of Flores, Larantuka has a strong Portuguese cultural heritage. The annual Easter Procession held in this town is well worth the trip if you are here at this time of the year.

Other Places of Interest

 

Lamalera Whale Hunting

Lamalera on Lembata Islan is awhaling village. The months of May to September are the whale hunting season for the people of Lamalera. Using simple traditional tools as small row boats and hand-thrown harpoons, the hunters sail out to hunt these giant creatures of the sea. The catch is either consumed or sold.

Other Places of Interest

 

Waikabubak

An archaic little town in Western Sumba, full of old graves carved in motifs of buffalo-horns, horses, nude men and women. Symbolizing social status or the wealth of the people. There are several megalithic tombs. The front of many traditional houses are decorated with huge water buffalo horns from the animals sacrificed during rituals of years gone by Tarung village, an impor-tant ceremonial center, is located on top of a hill just a half kilometre to the west of Waikabubak.

Other Places of Interest

 

Anakalang

Anakalang is the site of the "Purtung Takadonga Ratu", an important mass mariage festival held every two years, on a date determinated by the full moon.

Other Places of Interest

 

Pasola

The most famous festival in Nusa Tenggara, Pasola pits huge teams of brightly costumed horsemen against each other in 'mock' battles. The competitors are so fierce, despite the use of blunt spear injuries and deaths are still a common occurrance.

The main activities start several days after the full moon and coincide with the yearly arrival on shore of strange, multi-hued seaworms.

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