Sumbawa – seems OK at first

Kayangan to Pototano ferry: 1.5 hours

Potatano to Dompu: 280 km, 6:30

Dompu to Bima: 60 km, 1:45

Bima to Sape: 45 km, 1:00

Sumbawa is a very traditional Islamic island and it is quite undeveloped compared to the others on our trip.

Potatano to Dompu was our longest day of the whole trip – too long. It was even worse because we didn’t like Dompu when we got there. Dompu is probably an OK city, but we were travelling during Ramadan and we were determined to find accommodation out of range from the call to prayer. After assuring us that their hotel in Dompu was peaceful, we expressed our disappointment to the staff when four different mosques started up with the loud-hailer prayer at 4:00 pm, and none of them was more than a few hundred metres away.

We had already done two laps around the city looking for a hotel and dismissed any that were obviously too close to a mosque. Don’t get me wrong … I’m told the call has its own beauty, and I’m fine with folks admiring that. However, at 4:00 am, I do struggle to find that beauty.

We packed up and checked out. And I had been feeling smug about my expert navigation and route planing getting us there before dark. I asked some local riders for their advice about a peaceful hotel and they directed me to the resort, some 30 km back towards Pototano.

I think the resort was near Kambu, but don’t have an accurate record (we were travelling in the dark, with no clear idea of where we were going).

After the rigours of this day, we set a very modest target: Bima, which was only 60 km beyond Dompu. We planned to have an easy day and relax there. That worked out even worse than Dompu. There are no Western-style hotel in Bima (I am not at all precious about my accommodation, but some things are just not worth it). The first establishment had a hole in the roof. I asked some local riders for advice – they said there was only one other hotel. See the picture below for an idea of what it was like…

Dinner was biscuits and coke because there were no restaurants or cafes (warungs) open. We checked out at 5:00 am and I never want to go back to Bima. But it was not the low point.

We were aiming to get the 9:00 am ferry at Sape and were there in plenty of time. Unfortunately it didn’t leave until 4:00 pm, and the ferry terminal is a dismal place to wait. If you are lucky enough to find a seat in the shade, it will soon be spoiled by non-stop fumes from burning plastic. Unfortunately that’s the only way to dispose of drink bottles.

The grand new mosque in Sape is built alongside the only access road to the ferry harbour (it’s a just a few hundred metres away). Since we were stuck there for the day I headed off to get some basic bike maintenance. The shop is just 700 metres away so I didn’t wear long sleeves. Rotten luck and rotten town planning: while I was there, the mid-day call to prayer began. In support of that, the dignitaries lowered a boom gate across the road and padlocked it, thus preventing my return to the ferry harbour.

There was zero shade and nowhere to wait except in the middle of the road. I was fine with the idea of pushing the bike past the mosque rather than riding, but there was no alternate path. This is an surely an odd form of worship. Anyway I decided against heat stroke and determined to push my bike over the barrier. It was about 300 mm high and I was pretty sure I could get the front wheel on top of it, to be followed somehow by he rest of the bike.

My planing wasn’t really necessary. The barrier collapsed and the bike was past it before I had any time to react. I hastily continued pushing for another 50 m, before riding the rest of the way to the harbour and blending in.

Note: avoid Sape harbour at prayer time.

Note: ferries are erratic – if you get stuck overnight at the harbour, there’s a little hotel just 200 m outside the terminal (and inside the dreaded boom gate).


Small beach resort 30 km before Dompu, complete with guard crab outside the room. When we saw the place at first light, we realised it was actually a very scenic and peaceful beach-side setting.

disgusting hotel in Bima

Disgusting hotel in Bima



Lovely rural scenery between Dompu and Bima. Sumbawa roads had the least traffic of any island that we visited. It is a a brilliant riding destination – as long as you can find somewhere nice to stay.

last chance hotel at Sape harbour

Last chance hotel at Sape harbour. If the last ferry for the day is cancelled, you could stay here.

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