This small town is the second base of western Sumba after Tambolaka. It and the surrounding area is known as Wanukaka, and there is a population of about 10,000. This remote region is home to Sumba's most spectacular attraction - the Pasola - and some truly stunning beaches.
From Tambolaka you can take:
- "Travel" (shared car): for about IDR 50,000 per passenger (as of Dec 2018).
- Public bus (typically the one named 'Century 21'), only suitable if you travel light. Bus departs from Tambolaka/Waitabula Market, and you can board from the street side (they will only depart to destination after their bus is full). The bus is operated by a driver and assistant (to manage seating, spot passengers, etc.). The price per seat is IDR 15,000 (as of Dec 2018), some bus assistants would ask for IDR 50,000. Let them go away and wait for another bus. The bus sometime is overcrowded with more than 15 people packed in (especially during school start/finish time). The bus will stop outside Waikabubak, which you need to transfer to a bemo for IDR 5,000 to the town which can drop you at your accommodation if it is not too far away (as of Dec 2018).
You can always flag a bemo or an ojek to go around, although most part is walkable.
There are 14 villages around Waikabubak (only about four can be visited by foot), some of them have special characteristics (e.g. biggest tomb, tallest tomb, most beautifully carved tomb, etc.)
- Tarung Village: Walkable. Several houses were burnt down in 2017, but the rebuilding has been completed. Voluntary donation for entrance, recommended amount is IDR 20,000 per person (as of Dec 2018).
- Prai Ijing Village: Walkable. A big village with around 50 houses. Seems to be the most tourism-ready village, with ticketing and fixed entrance fee: IDR 50,000 per person (as of Dec 2018).
- Praigoli Village: 10km South of Waikabubak.
- Pasola Festival: a ritual horseback jousting competition in western Sumba to celebrate the rice planting season. The jousts involve throwing wooden spears at the opponent from a different clan. Horse-riding skills are paramount and the joust ends when the wooden spear hits the bare flesh of an opponents. The Sumbanese ancient beliefs state that spilled blood will fertilize the land and increase the output of the rice paddy. The dates of pasola is never fixed, and it is determined independently in different regions, but it is always arranged in the months of February or March. In the Wanukaka region, as part of the ritual, early in the morning the Marapu priests and their entourage go the beach to perform a prayer. They sacrifice a black rooster to the gods and check the heart of the cock to read the signs from the gods as to whether to proceed with the pasola.
If you receive an invitation to attend a wedding, birth, or funeral, never miss it. Those are the best way to learn about the culture. Ask for the norm (what to bring along, what not to do) and behave (e.g. avoid taking excessive photos during sensitive time).
- Hotel Manandang: probably the biggest and the most famous hotel. Room rate IDR 325,000 and up (as of Dec 2018)
- Hotel Pelita: up-and-coming accommodation for the next best alternative, often recommended by locals. Room rate IDR 250,000 (as of Dec 2018)
- Hotel Artha: a long-standing local accommodation with nice inner garden in the middle of 15 rooms. Tel: +62852-53253 980. Room rate IDR 250,000 (as of Dec 2018)
- Mona Lisa Homestay, located on the Western outskirt of Waikabubak
- Sutomo Homestay: one of the new accommodation, located on the Western outskirt of Waikabubak; Tel: +62812-444 36405. IDR 175,000 and above (as of Dec 2018)