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There are many good beaches south of Maluk. Not being surfers, we preferred secluded Pantai Lawar. Protected by outcrops of rock the beach is good for a quiet swim followed by a picnic in the shade of trees.
However, we were not alone there, two men were roasting their catch of fish. After a while a group of divers came ashore, brought by outrigger canoes. It turned out that they worked for the department of natural resources, and had been inspecting the condition of the corals farther out. The men roasting fish were drivers waiting for them to return.
So we did not need to eat our picnic, as we were offered to partake in the meal of these men.
Directions: From Maluk go 9 km south to Sekongkang Atas. At the crossing with the statue of a deer turn right. After 2 km at the district's head office (Kantor Kecamatan) take the gravel road right for another 2 km.
Updated Nov 13, 2011
Address: Sekongkang Bawah village, Sekongkang district.
Not much choice in Maluk, but fortunately we found Lesehan Bu Diah. Nice buildings and garden, which have seen better days. The upper floor of the restaurant is not being used any more. But the food is still good.
Written Aug 30, 2011
Address: Jalan Raya Maluk, Maluk
Phone: +62.818.0525 4022
Previous to our island-hopping trip we had done some research on the internet and found this report by Mauricio on the Thorn Tree travel forum: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1690205.
Mauricio drove from Sekongkang to Lunyuk in 2008 by 4WD. As he opined that a 4WD as not really necessary, we tried the trip in 2011 with our Isuzu Panther. In these three years road development has been progressing fast. The seven bridges that Mauricio saw being constructed with grant aid from Japan were finished. So we had seven less river beds to cross. Four more of these bridges were under construction, and perhaps eight more (we lost count) will have to be built before one can travel the route with dry tyres. However, passing through the rivers was not too difficult in the dry season. Except for one place, which locals call jurang naga, the 'dragon ravine'. Across the river the road snaked steeply uphill. The steepness itself was not the problem, but the loose sand and gravel, causing our tyres to loose grip and the car to slide back. With luck and after brushing away some loose material we just made it at the third attempt! If you come this way in 2012 the four additional bridges will be ready and we expect also the descent to and ascent from the dragon ravine will be sealed.
Easier still is to do the route on motorbike. At km 59.5 from Sekongkang we were invited in for coffee at a new settlement, SP4, belonging to Talonang Baru village. People from here ride once a week on motorbike to Maluk in order to sell their produce. From them we learnt why the road is being improved. Newmont gold mine, which has an operation going on near Sekongkang intends to open another one farther east. Besides this the region has been chosen for transmigration - resettling surplus population from elsewhere. Settlement SP4 had been inhabited just 6 months with people from Ambon, East Java and elsewhere.
Route summary: We counted km 0 from the crossing with a deer statue at Sekongkang. At km 20 we crossed the pipeline of Newmont gold mine and drove downhill parallel to it, until the pillar “Welcome to Tongo” where we turned left. Followed a sealed road with the seven new bridges. At 38 km the road facing a sheer cliff turns inland along Tongo river. Then we passed the construction sites of four more bridges, having to pass through the river beds, the last one being the 'dragon ravine'. At 60 km we met the settlers at SP4, and from km 70 onwards we saw several settlements of Balinese, the last one being Sukamaju at 99 km. That is 20 km past the point where the road reaches Garantah Bay. This latter part of the road was reasonable well until we reached Lunyuk across Beh river at 101 km.
Taking our time to stop where-ever we fancied, the trip took us eight hours. We had counted on staying over in Lunyuk before continuing north to Sumbawa Besar and found modest accommodation there. When the whole road has been upgraded, it should be easy to go the additional 100 km to Sumbawa Besar on the same day. But that is not why you should take this route, the north route is faster.
See also our travelogue More of Sekongkang-Lunyuk road trip
Updated Nov 28, 2011
Unlike Flores, Sumbawa does not have any deep crater lakes (not counting Satonda Island). But there are some shallow, swampy ones, of which Lebok Taliwang is the largest. An important one for fish and bird life.
You pass by it on the road from Poto Tano harbour to Taliwang and Maluk. Hire a boat from Herman Plas (mobile phone 08175721219, Rp 30,000 for half a day) and go fishing or bird watching.
Updated Aug 30, 2011