The northern part of the island is mountainous and lush with tall trees and shrubs. The south, on the other hand, is arid and covered by savannas. Large Asian mammals are absent and replaced instead by marsupials, lizards, cockatoos and parrots. The difference becomes more pronounced as one moves further east, where dry season is more prolonged and corn and sago are staple food, instead of rice.
Not much is known about this general area from the past. During the 17th century, the Dutch began to colonise this place. Many people these days still live like their ancestors, fishing or farming. This area began to gain popularity when Komodo Island and the surroundings became famous. Today this area is known as an exotic spot for leisure, especially Lombok and Komodo Island.
You can visit Nusa Tenggara by air. From Darwin in Australia, you can transfer to Kupang twice a week, jointly operated by Air North and Merpati Nusantara Airlines. Silk Air operates from Singapore and Merpati offers flights from Kuala Lumpur to Mataram.
You can also visit Bali first where it is easier to reach Nusa Tenggara.
Alternatively, you can travel by sea: Awu, Dobonsolo, Dorolonda, Kelimutu, Sirimau, Tatamailau, Pangrango and Tilongkabila ferries serve Nusa Tenggara. Slow ferries also connect the small islands.
People & Culture
Sasak people and Balinese dominate Lombok, but Javanese can also be found in West Nusa Tenggara. Arab, Bugis and Chinese live in this area, too. The majority of Sasak people are Muslim and they value modesty. Visitors should respect Sasak beliefs by covering themselves appropriately and understanding that going nude or topless is deemed inappropriate. Public displays of affection should be limited and consumption of alcohol must be done moderately.
Seafood is abundant and western-style food can be found in many places. West Nusa Tenggara dishes,especially Lombok (Sasak) especially, can be spicy. Freshwater fish is also a favourite - try gurami asam manis (sweet and sour gouramy fish) whilst you are there.
Ayam taliwang (roasted chicken with special sauce made of shallot, garlic, fish paste etc.) is a must, and generally eaten with steamed rice and plecing kangkung (boiled greens, bean sprouts, peanuts coated with chili sauce) and sambal beberuk. They are very spicy though, especially sambal beberuk, made with lots of chili, tomatoes and aubergine.