25-Sep-2004 -- Expedition to 10º South, 120º East
The only primary confluence on the island of Sumba, NTT, Indonesia
Joerg Lieberei (Germany, Team Leader), Kathrin Mengel (Germany, Logistics
Management), Dr. Thorsten Brauns (Germany, Navigator), Adi Praing (Indonesia,
Driver), Petrus Kanaf (Indonesia, Mental Advisor), Piet Fallo (Indonesia,
Security Advisor), Neville J. Kemp (Great Britain, Scientific Advisor)
The idea to visit this confluence was born after having read about the “Degree
Confluence Project” in the newspapers and the internet. Soon we decided to be
the first team to explore this remote and difficult to access part of our
world. The team, who lives and works on the Island of Sumba in a rural water supply project, was supplemented by an expert navigator who was flown in from Germany particularly for this purpose.
Sumba is one of the poorest and driest areas of Indonesia. The society of Sumba still lives a rather “traditional” life, depending on subsistence agriculture. Many people still
believe in an animistic religion known as “Marapu”. Sumba also comprises of some
of the worlds best beaches, some of them famous in the Surfer World. By
accident the confluence happened to be located close to the probably most
beautiful beach on the island, Tarimbang. There is also a home stay there.
That’s why the team decided to combine the visit to the confluence with an
overnight stay at Tarimbang. Also, to go back and forth to the confluence from
the main entry points to Sumba (Waingapu and Waikabubak) is not
feasible in one day because of the long distance and the poor condition of
In the tradition of the old explorers and following Shackleton’s plans to cross Antarctica we decided to set off
with two teams. One from the East – the other one from the West. The logistics
were arranged with the generally better equipped team from the East in the town
of Waingapu. The Western company started from
the town of Waikabubak. When the teams met at a crossroads
on the main road the spirit of the team was high. However, the mental advisor
suffered from an acute attack of diarrhoea and needed to release himself. At the same time our driver had to refuel the old
Toyota Hardtop (25l/100km) with fuel sold in bottles nearby.
we discussed how to continue the approach to THE POINT involving local
indigenous knowledge on the accessibility of the area and using the good
available topographic maps (1:25.000). There were two options: Option one would
have been a shorter drive but would also have required an access road to the
confluence from the North-West following a walk of two to six kilometres on
foot through rough and hilly terrain in plain sunlight. Option two was to take
a longer detour by car and approach the confluence from the East on a 4x4 dirt
road. After having heard from the locals that there was road access via the
East, we decided upon option two because it appeared to be the safe solution
and the dirt road would bring us very close to the point (within a range of a
few hundred meters).
that point in time not a single bottle of beer had been opened. We decided to
have breakfast somewhere down the road, which we actually did at around 11:00
am. Then temperatures had already reached 30+ degrees Celsius.
One hour after breakfast we reached the dirt road which leads to the point. Here
our Navigator turned on the two additional backup GPS and we knew that we were
getting close. Local farmers were seen along the track, wearing their
traditional attire and spears and knifes. But our security advisor told us not
to worry since this was their Saturday pastime pig hunting time. We crossed a
few streams (no problem in the dry season) and eventually our Garmin 12 XL
showed PAGE – “Approaching Waypoint”. We were still in the cars! We could not
believe that we would be so lucky getting close to the point by car and also
the spirit of our mental advisor lightened up.
the GPS indicated that we were within range of 100 metres we stopped our cars
and ventured out on foot. Now our scientific advisor took out his binoculars
and spotted a colony of Sumba cockatoos, endemic only to the
island. He also started recording the flora, fauna, geology and climate of the
mental advisor, having regained his spirit, overtook the navigator and tried to
reach the point first. He actually got as close as 10 metres, but then he took
a detour. The navigator pointed out that the point should actually be located
in the middle of the nearby river (one of the very few permanent streams on
this dry island).
it or not, we had to get into the river with our GPS, cameras, compass etc.
However, before setting foot into the water we confirmed with our security
advisor and the scientific advisor whether there where crocodiles around.
Unable to confirm that risk, we still went in and waded through the waist high
water to reach the point.
but sure all members assembled in the water and finally all three GPS showed
all zeroes: 10.00.00.0 / 120.00.00.0. YES !!! (See picture). Our navigator
confirmed good satellite reception conditions with no canopy coverage or other
obstacles on a clear day and estimated the accuracy to 1 – 5 metres.
was done with ice-cold Bintang beers (Thank you logistic manager). We didn’t
think that it would have been that easy and we were happy to have chosen option
9 hours on the road we continued celebrating at the most beautiful beach of Tarimbang with even more ice-cold Bintang
beer (Thank you logistic manager).
How to get there:
Follow the main road from Waingapu to
Waikabubak. Turn left at Kilometre 47 (before Lewa). Continue to Parainkareha
on a small and rough asphalt road (ca. 65 km). Turn right towards Desa Horani
and follow the dirt road for about 7 km. Use a 4x4 car and a GPS. Never try
during the rainy season (Dec.-Mar.) Stay at Tarimbang overnight (Marthens Home
stay, Sat.Tel.: 0062 868 12124208). Flights to Waingapu from Bali are five times per week at about 50 US$ one