Sumba is a land of contrasts. The east of the island is made up of arid grasslands and limestone plateaux, while the west is fertile and green, with rolling hills and a long rainy season. Waingapu, the capital, is well known for producing the finest ikat fabric in Indonesia. A little further out at Rende and Melolo sit stone tombs with bizarre carvings, and in other villages on the east coast you’ll find quality weaving, traditional structures and deserted beaches. The main town in the west is Waikabubak, where characteristic houses with thatched roofs soar to an apex over 15m above the ground.
Access to Sumba is either by ferry from Ende in Flores to Waingapu or from Sape in Sumbawa to Waikelo, or by air to either Waingapu or Waikabubak. Most people choose to fly out of Waingapu rather than Waikabubak, which has a very chequered record for reliability and cancellations.