Tambolaka is the undisputed hub of west Sumba and whilst it has taken a tentative step towards the future, it still has a foot firmly planted in the past. Every Saturday, the roads to the north and south are lined with traditional markets selling everything from fruit and vegetables, hand woven ikat fabric, chickens, horses and anything else you can think of. Try to time your visit to coincide with the markets and spend a fascinating few hours wandering through the colourful market watching the locals haggle.
Take a short drive north to the port town of Waikelo, a colourful town inhabited by ethnic Bugis people. To the west lies a beautiful white sandy beach, to the east more beaches, a handful of guesthouses and some very worthwhile villages. 12km from Waikelo the quiet Bugis fishing village of Katewel is fronted by a beautiful sandy beach. The mosque here is said to have been built in the year 1001. About 40min drive further along the coast, Memboro village is like stepping back in time with pigs and chickens scrounging in the dust among thatched homes and stone tombs and villagers harvesting salt from the ocean using thousand year old methods.
Returning back to the junction of the Tambolaka-Waikelo road, head inland a short way to Bondo and Kapambu traditional villages nestled in the mountain foothills. Both villages are well preserved examples of traditional Marapu villages and afford great views from one to the other and over the coastal plain. Totok village, about 8km due south of there is regarded as one of the most original and beautiful villages in Sumba.