Sumbawa: From an Impromptu School Visit to Satonda Volcano

This week we sailed to the extraordinary Satonda volcano, famous for its caldera, a salt-water filled lake.

But before that, we took one more look around the remote fishing village of Ijok where we received a surprising invitation…

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This village is full of dogs, cats, chickens and goats!

This is why we travel by sailboat

If you know followtheboat, you’ll know we love the travelling as much as the sailing. Distinctive cultural encounters are our reward for seeking out remote places. And having access to a working fishing village like Ijok is what makes travelling in your own boat so rewarding.

In fact, it’s precisely why we travel by sailboat.

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Wandering around the village

Jamie often says his favourite place is alone in the open ocean surrounded by water. But the truth is we couldn’t be happier engaging with local communities and learning just a little bit about the people who live there.

We should take this opportunity to thank Diana, Rull, Mastar and crew aboard the bagan fishing boat we blogged about last week. Their welcome made our serendipitous stay in Ijok one we will cherish for years to come.

Ijok Village School

Our new friend, Diana*, was keen for us to meet the children of the local school. She explained that the English language used to be on the school’s curriculum, but was removed and she doesn’t know why.

Being an English-speaker herself, and understanding the benefits of a second language, Diana was keen that the local children continue their English lessons, so she volunteers to teach at the school.

*Diana, Princess of Wales, visited Sumbawa in 1993 and this Diana’s mum chose her name for that very reason…

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Diana teaching
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Diana’s classroom

After a photo shoot in the playground where we all took selfies of each other, we poked our noses into a couple of the classrooms. Then we were taken to Diana’s class of eighteen boisterous students. There we were encouraged to take some simple lessons.

It became clear quite quickly that a few of the students had a real aptitude for the English language. Interestingly, just like in the UK, it was the girls who were better students than the boys.

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Whiteboard work

One of Diana’s teaching strategies is to divide the class into teams, and get them to compete with each other, often resulting in lots of shouting and much hilarity. And one of her punishments for the losers of the quiz, or indeed anyone who plays up, is for the individual to dance in front of the class for ten seconds!

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Liz has a go at teaching

Satonda Volcano

As we’ve already said, living and travelling by sailboat allows us easy access to remote communities, but it’s also pretty good at getting us close to some of the Earth’s most spectacular natural wonders.

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Anchored on the rim

Satonda Island is said to be older than Mount Tambora, the neighbouring volcano that erupted in 1815 and put the world into darkness for a year. Surrounded by vast coral reefs, Satonda was designated a Marine National Park in 1999.

We were careful as we anchored  next to this almost vertical volcano, because it’s hard to find a safe spot. It is also largely without any protection from the wind and swell. There isn’t much room for visiting sailboats.

While there, we took a short walk to the salt-water lake. It is spectacular. The silence is deafening, and the tranquillity provides some welcome respite from Indonesia’s growl of productivity.

The crater-lake is around 77 hectares in size, reaching a depth of 69m in places. We were told it was formed more than ten thousand years ago.

Of course, the views from every point we looked were stunning. You can walk the complete circumference if you can take the incredible heat, and have plenty of stamina. A pathway runs the length of the entire ridge. We only trekked a small part of it.

Visiting Satonda

If you find yourself at Satonda volcano, we recommend making the twenty minute hike from beach to lake first thing in the morning. Any later and the heat is intense.

It’s expensive to get to for tourists, which keeps Satonda volcano untroubled by souvenir kiosks and nasi goreng warungs. While we were there no-one else turned up except a couple of other boats that came and went.

Timing a visit to Satonda by sailboat can be a gamble. If you get it wrong there is no protection in the tricky anchorage. But with the transitional weather on our side, we enjoyed two peaceful nights in this rejuvenating, isolated place.

Watch the full vlog here…

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2 thoughts on “Sumbawa: From an Impromptu School Visit to Satonda Volcano”

  1. Hi Jamie and Liz
    Thoroughly enjoyed your blog as it took us right back to 2013 when we sailed these waters on our NZ registered ship – “Tiare Taporo III”. Unfortunately we didn’t have such an interesting time as we were pressed for time (visa considerations!) and Sail Indonesia was absolutely useless as regards any sailing directions – particularly as regards good anchorages on Sumbawa.. We had our best time on Lombok at Medana Bay with Ace and Peter.
    These days our sailing days are well behind us but filled with (mostly) good memories. Now we are living in El Retiro – a small Colombian town about 20 kms SE of Medellin. 7,000 feet altitude. Lovely people, climate and low cost of living. We have our own house here on which we conducted extensive renovations last year. We are now both 76 and wouldn’t live anywhere else.

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