the Degree Confluence Project

Indonesia : Nusa Tenggara Timur

5.8 km (3.6 miles) WNW of Paraingkareha, Pulau Sumba (Island), Nusa Tenggara Timur, Indonesia
Approx. altitude: 17 m (55 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreeMap ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 10°N 60°W

Accuracy: 5 m (16 ft)
Quality: good

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: looking south from 10S 120E #3: looking west from 10S 120E #4: looking north from 10S 120E #5: looking east from 10S 120E #6: three GPS all zeroes #7: found it #8: team party #9: the team #10: Tarimbang bay

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  10°S 120°E (visit #1)  

#1: 10S 120E is located in the middle of a river

(visited by Joerg Lieberei, Thorsten Brauns, Kathrin Mengel, Petrus Kanaf, Piet Fallo, Neville Kemp and Adi Gerson Praing)

25-Sep-2004 -- Expedition to 10º South, 120º East

The only primary confluence on the island of Sumba, NTT, Indonesia

The Team:

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 Preperation:

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 roads.

Confluence Hunt:

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.

Here 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).

At 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.

When 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 area.

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).

Like 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.

Slowly but sure all members assembled in the water and finally all three GPS showed all zeroes: / 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.

Celebration 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 two.

After 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

 All pictures
#1: 10S 120E is located in the middle of a river
#2: looking south from 10S 120E
#3: looking west from 10S 120E
#4: looking north from 10S 120E
#5: looking east from 10S 120E
#6: three GPS all zeroes
#7: found it
#8: team party
#9: the team
#10: Tarimbang bay
ALL: All pictures on one page
In a river, a couple of meters from the northern bank.