Notes from The Edge of Wildness
by Emily Penn
When it comes to the environment and conservation, what’s important – and drives so much of the work I do – is getting people fall in love with our amazing natural world. Living in cities, most of us don’t get the opportunity to have raw, life-changing, encounters with nature. The island of Sumba feels so completely remote that, despite its comforts, Nihi Sumba delivers no end of transformative experiences.
You can’t help but leave imprinted by nature, in all its rhythms and unpredictability. The resort faces west and during my stay, the day would centre around sunset. I did some painting while I was here – fascinated by the way light hits the water. When the sun sank low, we’d look for the patterns that change with the tide each day, every sunset was new. Staying on the brink of monsoon season, it was amazing to watch the vast black clouds rolling through overhead. The beach is a couple of miles long and untouched. It looks right. I felt the same in the Arctic – it’s beautiful because that’s how nature made it. In days of growing global environmental strain, it’s a feeling that’s hard to find.
Part of my time here was spent assessing local waste management challenges. These small islands, like anywhere else in the world, face a battle against depleting natural resources, increasing population and the never-ending struggle of imported packaged food and drink.
Protected from these pressures, Sumba still feels wild and magical. When we explored the surrounding waters by boat the health of the ocean blew me away. It was so full of life that there were fish jumping out of the water and almost into the boat! We got to surf the famous reef break, and went hiking through the jungle to a mythically blue waterfall. The resort is set up to perfectly frame the natural world. At every corner the focus is towards the beauty of our planet. Even the outside bathrooms, where friendly geckos are there to say hello in the morning, makes you feel so connected.
I normally experience the wildest places from the cramped cabin of a boat, or swarmed by mosquitoes in a hammock. It was a unique luxury to be able switch off and give over to wonder. Nihi facilitates an immersion in the environment that wouldn’t be possible normally. They make wildness luxurious, but no less mind-blowing.
You can only love what you really know and only care for the things you love. Being here reminded me, more than ever, of the need for magical encounters with the natural world to be able to understand, care for, and love nature. Making an impact starts with this kind of connection.