Going native in secluded Indonesia

Intrepid travellers meet isolated tribe

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Going native in secluded Indonesia

A famed destination for surfers who travel far to ride its legendary waves, the Mentawai Islands are now attracting alternative travellers interested in rich ethnic culture. In particular, an encounter with the famed hunter-gatherer Mentawai people who live a lifestyle passed down from ancestors thousands of years ago.

The tribe are famed for full-body tattoos inked with symbolism and for their skill at using what Mother Nature provides to sustain life. Though only 150 km from the mainland, the islands are one of the last frontiers for Indonesian adventurers. The indigenous people were kept isolated until the 19th century by strong winds, volatile currents and razor-sharp reefs.

Besides preserving the tribe’s unique traditions, this isolation has preserved the archipelago’s pristine flora and fauna.

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