The Real Story Behind Waimarang Waterfall In Sumba Indonesia
The stored tropical natural charm of Waimarang Waterfall in Sumba island, Indonesia may have only landed on the tourist radar in 2015, but it’s become one of the most sought after places to visit in Sumba. There’s a good reason why.
The unique and jaw-dropping perfect u-shape private swimming pool is filled with crystal clear water that it will leave you wondering if it’s actual real. The natural swimming hole is one that needs to be seen in person to be believed, because the beauty of probably the most beautiful waterfall in the world truly is incredible.
If you’re looking for information on how to visit Waimarang Waterfall, how long the trek takes, whether the path is safe for everyone and the real story behind how it got discovered, look no further.
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Where is Waimarang Waterfall?
Waimarang Waterfall is located in the East Sumba Regency, just a stones throw from Waimarang Village. The best way to get here is from Waingapu which is about a two hour drive.
The drive is along well paved roads, but you’ll need to hire a driver to take you there as there are no road signs at this hidden location. It’s located down small country roads and would be impossible to find if you tried to get there yourself, even Google Maps won’t pick it up.
When you get to the parking area, you’ll see a sign that will say Waimarang Waterfall. This East Sumba waterfall tends to be on every Sumba tour so be prepared to see other visitors here when visiting.
What makes Waimarang Waterfall unique?
Waimarang Waterfall in East Sumba is one of the most unique waterfalls in the world with a beautiful quiet forest atmosphere. It is unlike any other waterfall in Sumba island or in-fact anywhere else in the world. Considering it is one of the best things to do in Sumba, Waimarang Waterfall takes a while to get to. But is it worth the effort? Let’s find out.
What’s the real story behind the waterfall?
It’s circling around the internet that a boy named Eric found Waimarang Waterfall in 2015 and posted it on social media. Truth be told, I was lucky to meet Eric’s dad, and while we chatted with the help of my guide to translate our conversation, his son didn’t just accidentally come across the stunning waterfall and swimming hole.
Dominigos, also known as Papa Eric, told me how his grandparents visited Waimarang Waterfall back in 1912. And what’s even more interesting is Dominigos’ wife actually went into labour in the waterfall with Eric. Luckily she got to hospital in time to give birth in 2001.
When I asked him if he had any stories about this beautiful waterfall surrounded by pristine nature and birds chirping, he told me once he had a dream and someone told him to be careful at the waterfall. This was indeed before his wife went into labour here. He now comes down to the waterfall to guide tourists to keep them safe, which he feels was his path since the calling from that dream.
So, how did Waimarang become one of the most visited waterfalls in Sumba? It actually wasn’t Eric who posted about it in 2015. While he was swimming here with friends, one of them actually posted it on social media, not him. The post went viral and since, a clear path has been built to guide tourists down here.
When I asked Papa Eric how he felt about tourists now visiting this spectacular waterfall, he said he was sad about it. But, it’s not the only one in the area. Apparently there are another one to two exact same shaped swimming holes nearby, only they are bigger. But, finding them would involve bush bashing through the Indonesian jungle, just like many untouched waterfalls in Sumba.
What does the path look like?
I want to explain what the path looks like when doing the Waimarang Waterfall walk because Steve had sprained his ankle and really wanted to come. We didn’t know what the walk would look like and only went off what our guide told us, and so he didn’t come. So if you have anyone travelling with you like the elderly or kids and you’re unsure if it’s safe enough, read on.
The path starts at the carpark and at first it looks relatively easy as you walk down actual steps into the Indonesian forest. As soon as we started walking, my heart broke as I knew it would have been OK for Steve to visit, even during rainy season when we visited.
But after two minutes, the steps stopped, and we were walking on a path which is flat but still a little rocky. I then realised with Steve’s sprained ankle; it would be difficult for him to have done this trek.
When you reach the bottom of the path, you’ll see the blue water which literally looks like a dream. I stopped and took it all in because the calm stream almost doesn’t look real.
As we side stepped along a branch over the water and to the other side of the river, we walked up some steps carved into a rock. These steps are a bit slippery (OK very slippery), so I kept my hiking boots on while many people left their flip flops before side stepping across the short river crossing.
I knew instantly Steve would have stopped there, and not come across the river crossing, which would have been a total shame because you technically can’t see Waimarang Waterfall from there as it’s hidden in what feels like a cave about 20 metres from the crossing.
How long it takes to get to Waimarang Waterfall
Wondering how long it actually takes to walk down to Waimarang Waterfall? I timed it and the 1km track took us 15 minutes to walk down. I think if Steve tried to come with his ankle, it probably would have taken us about 1 hour.
The track is easy to follow as there’s no turn offs, simply just stay walking along it until you reach the bottom. When you get to the bottom, turn right at the river and walk up the slippery steps carved into the rock cliffs and in 20 metres, you’ll come to the swimming hole.
I would definitely hire a porter such as Dominigos, because his stories are what makes this waterfall feel much more special.
Cliff jumping at the waterfall
Want to know if you can go cliff jumping here at Waimarang Waterfall? Our tour guide naturally somehow side stepped around the waterfall and jumped up to the top to see another swimming hole above it. He made it look easy and it made me realise there was no way I could do it.
Another tourist tried to follow his footsteps and ended up not even attempting it and just jumped off the rock cliffs into the water instead. If you want to go cliff jumping here, just be careful because the water really isn’t that deep.
I went in for a swim and I strongly encourage you to do so as you’ll be surrounded by the forest atmosphere which will make the journey to get here totally worth it.
Things to know before you go
Before visiting this waterfall in Sumba, there are a few things to consider.
Food and toilet facilities
There are toilets and undercover seating areas at the carpark so you can chill out after the walk, eat lunch here and buy a coconut. If you’re doing a tour, you’ll need to bring a packed lunch with you to eat here. We ordered Nasi Goreng from Padadita Hotel which is where we were staying the night before. I was kinda concerned with what to bring because obviously there aren’t any fridges or cool boxes to store food in, but it kept OK.
You can buy two minute noodles at the Waimarang carpark but personally as a Westerner, I wouldn’t because my stomach can’t tolerate local water.
Wear hiking boots
I would definitely wear hiking boots on this trek because the path is slippery especially at the bottom by the falls. However, I do wish I brought my flip flops down with me as well to wear while at the swimming hole.
What time of day to visit
Because Wai Marang Waterfall is such a bucket list Sumba attraction, it was the busiest waterfall in Sumba that I visited. When we arrived, there were two ladies from Jakarta here.
Now from what I learned on my three-week Indonesian trip, Jakartan people are serious about Instagram. We waited for ages while they continued to take photos in the swimming hole. But that was OK, because you’ll want to spend some time really taking it all in because this waterfall is breathtaking.
When I got a look into to take a couple of photos and swim in here, because apparently the water has healing powers, the next load of tourists were already coming towards us. Because of this, I felt rushed and literally spent about 2 minutes in the water before getting out.
On our way back up to the carpark, we past by at least three groups of people, and when we got to the top, more people were heading down here.
So, I would either visit early in the day, or later in the afternoon.
Is Waimarang Waterfall worth visiting?
I think the thing I loved the most about visiting Waimarang Waterfall was getting an opportunity to chat to Eric’s dad about it. It’s obviously a super special place for his family and for anyone visiting.
But, I think if we were the only people here, it would have felt way more special. Tourists came down simply to take photos and they didn’t seemed that fussed to find out anything about it which kinda felt almost ruined the experience.
While it’s definitely a must visit waterfall in Sumba to visit, I actually preferred visiting Tanggedu Waterfall. Maybe it was because I was on my own there, but I felt something super special about that one, more so than Waimarang.
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