In Sumba, a mysterious and rugged island located in East Nusa Tenggara, southwest of Flores, you can get a glimpse of tribal villages built on hilltops and fortified by historic stone walls. Sumba is also known as the “Forgotten Island” of Indonesia. A well-kept secret amongst surfers and adventurers, this hidden gem is, surprisingly, only an hour’s flight away from the major tourist hub of Bali.

Sumba’s ancient indigenous culture is largely intact. They practice an animistic faith called Marapu, centered on honoring ancestral lineage. Marapu has now blended with Christianity. Even so, Sumba is a place where visitors can experience many ancient traditions firsthand. In fact, headhunting rites are still going on and you can literally find “skull trees” in the villages where severed heads would be displayed.

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