Adventure in Lit­tle Africa

East Nusa Teng­gara, or Nusa Teng­gara Timur, has a rep­u­ta­tion as In­done­sia’s Lit­tle Africa. It has the sa­van­nahs, the wild an­i­mals, the gor­geous green seas and white-sand beaches, and some of the friendli­est peo­ple you will ever meet.

Maxx-M - - WHAT TO DO - Text by Grace So­larbe­sain | Pho­tos cour­tesy of In­done­sian Min­istry of Tourism

East Nusa Teng­gara is lo­cated in the eastern reaches of the Lesser Sunda Is­lands. The pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal is Ku­pang, lo­cated in West Ti­mor. The prov­ince con­sists of about 565 is­lands, but is dom­i­nated by the three main is­lands of Flores, Sumba and West Ti­mor. If it is adventure you de­sire, East Nusa Teng­gara is the des­ti­na­tion you have been dreaming of.

Juras­sic Park One of the most ex­cit­ing des­ti­na­tions in East Nusa Teng­gara is Ko­modo Is­land, home to the famed Ko­modo dragon, the clos­est thing the world has to dinosaurs. The is­land is part of the Ko­modo Na­tional Park and Marine Re­serve, a pro­fes­sion­ally man­aged world-class na­ture park and div­ing des­ti­na­tion. Ko­modo is a unique des­ti­na­tion, with a stretch of dry for­est and sa­van­nah com­bin­ing with the hilly ter­rain and the in­fi­nite blue sky over­head, a sprin­kling of white clouds mak­ing for an in­com­pa­ra­ble paint­ing. The leg­endary an­cient dragon is nat­u­rally the main draw, but the park also pro­vides refuge for many other no­table species such as the or­ange-footed scrub fowl, an en­demic rat and the Ti­mor deer. Be­low the wa­ter there are about 1,000 species of fish, hun­dreds of species of coral and 70 species of sponge, not to men­tion the whales, dol­phins, dugongs, sharks, sea tur­tles, man­groves and sea­grass beds that call the area home or are fre­quent vis­i­tors. There is so much nat­u­ral beauty in the park and so many an­i­mals to spot, but the main show of course is watch­ing for the Ko­modo dragon, an an­cient an­i­mal that has sur­vived for more than 300 mil­lion years. The Ko­modo is the world’s largest lizard species with an av­er­age

length of 3.13 me­tres while it can reach up to 165 kilo­grams in weight. There are about 2,500 Ko­modo dragons on Ko­modo Is­land and a cou­ple of other smaller is­lands, in­clud­ing Rinca and Padar is­lands. When you go in search of the dragons, take care and al­ways go with a park ranger, who can show you the best ar­eas for dragon spot­ting and can keep the crea­tures at bay if they try and get frisky.

Mys­te­ri­ous Lakes

In a re­gion of in­cred­i­ble sights, few top the mys­te­ri­ous Ke­limutu lakes. The three coloured lakes are lo­cated in the crater of Mount Ke­limutu, a vol­cano near Ende on Flores Is­land. The lakes change colour over time due to the vol­canic ac­tiv­ity that started mil­lions of years ago. It is be­lieved that the Ke­limutu lakes are the only lakes in the world that change colour like this.The lakes were at one time red, blue and white, but in 1969 an erup­tion oc­curred and the lakes changed to brown, green and black. Lo­cals con­sider the lakes sa­cred, where the souls of the dead dwell. Ac­cord­ing to leg­end, the souls of young peo­ple go to the warmth of Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (green lake), the souls of the old go to the cold ofTiwu Ata Mbupu (brown lake) and the souls of thieves and mur­ders go to Tiwu Ata Polo (black lake). But af­ter an earth­quake in 1992, all of the lakes turned green. Who knows what colour they will take next.To get to the top of Mount Ke­limutu, start in Moni, a vil­lage at the foot of the vol­cano. It’s about 12 kilo­me­tres to the peak, but you can drive 11 of those and then park and walk the last kilo­me­tre, which takes about 30 min­utes. Morn­ing is the best time to wit­ness the beauty of the lakes. Start­ing around mid­day a thick mist de­scends over the lakes, block­ing the view. On sunny days, the peak of Ke­limutu af­fords sweep­ing views over Flores’s hilly to­pog­ra­phy. And Ke­limutu Na­tional Park is alive with the chirp­ing of birds and the screech­ing of long-tailed mon­keys.

Take the Plunge

Per­haps the best way to ex­plore East Nusa Teng­gara is from un­der the wa­ter. And the best snorkelling and div­ing can be found around the Alor Ar­chi­pel­ago. Alor is a hid­den par­adise for marine bio­di­ver­sity. Div­ing al­lows you to ap­pre­ci­ate all the rich­ness of the un­der­wa­ter world, but with just your snorkelling gear, you can en­joy the in­cred­i­bly rich and lively coral reefs. Sev­eral dive sites in par­tic­u­lar are renowned for big fish, in­clud­ing schools of big-eye jacks, dog­tooth tuna, sharks, gi­ant groupers, Napoleon wrasse, ea­gle rays and the oc­ca­sional mola-mola. There is also an im­pres­sive con­cen­tra­tion of in­ver­te­brates, anemones and hard and soft coral. In the Pan­tar Strait, you can also see pi­lot whales and dol­phins. Pods of whales will also pass through the is­lands on their way to the Pa­cific Ocean. If you are look­ing for first-class div­ing or a more au­then­tic set­ting than the regular tourist haunt, come to Alor and ex­plore the stunning sea life and coral gar­dens.

Easy Does It

All that adventure can be tir­ing, but luck­ily there are plenty of places in East Nusa Teng­gara that are all about re­lax­ation. First on your list should be Pink Beach in Flores. It seems there are only seven pink-sand beaches in the world, and one of them is in East Nusa Teng­gara. The pink sand is formed from frag­ments of red coral. Or you can go to the most fa­mous beach in Ku­pang, in West Ti­mor. Lasiana Beach, about 14 kilo­me­tres out­side of Ku­pang, is an ideal spot for some rest and re­lax­ation. It is a popular week­end des­ti­na­tion for lo­cals, and you will find friends and fam­i­lies on the shore grilling fish, play­ing gui­tar or knock­ing around a vol­ley­ball. And it’s the best place to catch the sun­set.

Bloody Good­Time

A visit to East Nusa Teng­gara would not be com­plete with­out tak­ing in the unique cul­ture. The most fa­mous cul­tural event is prob­a­bly the Pa­sola Fes­ti­val. Pa­sola is a war game played by Sum­banese men to cel­e­brate the rice-plant­ing sea­son. It in­volves throw­ing wooden spears at op­po­nents while rid­ing a horse. It is played by two dif­fer­ent groups of men from dif­fer­ent clans or tribes and it re­quires a lot of skill at horse rid­ing and spear throw­ing, and it goes with­out say­ing that it is danger­ous and blood is spilled. The Sum­banese be­lieve the spilled blood will fer­til­ize the land and in­crease the rice har­vest. Pink beaches, thriv­ing reefs, coloured lakes, dragons and fly­ing spears. Only in East Nusa Teng­gara will you find such a thrilling com­bi­na­tion of sights and sounds.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Indonesia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.