Nusa Tenggara ("Southeast Islands"), also known as the Lesser Sunda Islands, is a region of eastern Indonesia.
Nusa Tenggarra is administratively divided into two provinces:
West Nusa Tenggara (Nusa Tenggara Barat)
East Nusa Tenggara (Nusa Tenggara Timur)
Nusa Tenggara is one of the least developed and least visited parts of Indonesia. While the islands of Lombok and Sumbawa are solidly Muslim, the vast majority (90%) of the rest is Christian, with a smattering of animist belief. Partly thanks to this clean division, Nusa Tenggara has been largely spared the religious conflicts of nearby Sulawesi and Maluku.
Bahasa Indonesia is spoken throughout the region, along with a host of regional languages. English is understood in some of the larger towns and cities, in particular those with significant tourist infrastructure. Outside of those places, do not expect English to be either spoken or understood.
Being a vast archipelago, the main means of transport are by plane and by ship.
The main airports, with frequent flights from the Javanese mainland and Denpasar (Bali), are Lombok, Maumere (Flores) and Kupang (West Timor). A few flights a week also go from Denpasar, Bali to both Waingapu, Sumba (eastern part of the island) and Waikabubak (western part, near where the Pasolas are held annually).
The only direct international connection from anywhere outside Indonesia directly to the islands is on SilkAir from Singapore a few times a week to Lombok's International Airport, (Bandara Internasional Lombok), (BIL), (IATA: ---, ICAO: WADL) in central southern Lombok near the city of Praya.
There are frequent ferry services from Bali to Lombok. Connections between Nusa Tenggara and Indonesia's other islands, though, are limited to the occasional PELNI ferry sailing between Makassar (South Sulawesi) to Flores and, if you really want to get away from it all, from various ports in Papua via Tual and Saumlaki, Maluku to Kalabahi, Alor and onward to Flores.
By bus and ferry
From Bali in the west to Timor in the east, the classic island-hopping backpacker trail across Nusa Tenggara runs something like this:
A night time ferry also runs, sometimes, from Waingapu, Sumba to Ende, Flores, taking about 11 hours.
With a drier climate, there is less rice and more sago, corn, cassava, and taro compared to central and western Indonesia. Fish is popular including sepat, which is shredded fish in coconut and young-mango sauce.
Jus pokat (avocado juice), often including a swirl of chocolate, is generally very good.
Komodo Dragons, at up to 3 m (10 ft) in length, are more than capable of killing a man with ease, although human predation is rare. Zoologists formerly believed that the main problem was the dragon's diseased-filled bite from the rampant bacteria residing in their mouth. More recently theories have been put forward that the Komodo Dragon is actually venomous, and that the biggest problem when bitten is shock and massive blood loss due to the ferocity of the bite. Whichever, getting bitten is not a good thing.
The dragon usually bites a larger animal and then waits for the infection to kill it. So, despite the fact that being actually eaten is unlikely, the bite itself can be deadly. Keep at a considerable distance and never enter dragon territory alone. If you use basic common sense you should have a wonderful time viewing these magnificent animals. The absence of crocodiles on Komodo Island (due in part to a lack of suitable habitat) leave the Komodo Dragons with no natural predators.
Saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) also reside in most of this area, however they are not found on Komodo. The saltwater crocodile is the largest of all living crocodilians and the average size for an adult male is 5.2 m (17 ft) (although the largest saltwater crocodile on record was 8.8 m (29 ft) in length, from northern Queensland). They are known throughout their range as man-eaters and account for many human deaths every year. This can all be avoided by using basic common sense. Never swim in the ocean near a river mouth, in swamps or in large rivers. Never clean fish near the water or frequent the same spot at a river over a prolonged period of time, saltwater crocodiles are known to memorise a potential prey item's patterns for days or weeks at a time before attacking.