If you’re hungry for traditional Sumbanese culture, head west into the rice fields that crawl up blue mountains, carved by rivers and sprouting with bamboo and coconut palms. Kampung of high-roofed houses are still clustered on their hilltops, surrounding the imposing stone tombs of their ancestors. Rituals and ceremonies involve animal sacrifices and can take place at any time. Outsiders are welcome, but make a donation – your guide will know how much (usually 20,000Rp to 50,000Rp). Even though kampung seem accustomed to visiting foreigners, gifts of betel nut help warm the waters and are a sign of respect.
West Sumba is most easily traversed and experienced with a guide, especially if you don't speak Bahasa Indonesia. In the west, locals get around with giant knives called parang strapped to their waist, but it's mostly for show. Still, it is ill-advised to travel after dark in West Sumba.