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Neil Dankoff – Thank you, Indonesia

Culinary Showdown in Support of Epilepsy South Central Ontario
December 12, 2019
65 Kingsway Crescent, Toronto
December 13, 2019

B eing a landscape photographer, I’m constantly searching for stunning new locations that have the potential for great captures. One day while on Instagram, I noticed an amazing photo of some wild horses on a spectacular beach. After a little digging, I discovered that this beach was part of a resort called Nihi Sumba, located on the island of Sumba, in Indonesia. I contacted the resort and we soon came up with an arrangement for me to come visit for a five-day photoshoot. The island of Sumba is an hour flight from Bali, another location I had been wanting to photograph, so I made a similar arrangement with the beautiful Capella Ubud Resort and my exciting Indonesia photo trip was set.

After a quick 22 hour flight from Toronto (30 hours with layover), I arrived in Bali and headed right to the world famous Tegallalang Rice Terrace to scope it out for the following days’ sunrise shoot. Afterwards, I finally checked into the Capella Ubud Resort, which is described as a “unique tented camp, which sits in harmony with the surrounding nature, inspired by the early European settlers from the 1800s”. There are twenty-two, one-bedroom tents (each with it’s own theme) as well as one, two-bedroom lodge, all with private salt-water pools. This place is unique with a capital “U”. No televisions here but no matter, the views and sounds of the rainforest were entertainment enough! I only spent two nights at Capella Ubud but their 10 course dinner (cooked right in front of you) was surely the best culinary experience of my life! I was able to capture the photos I needed and then it was off to another slice of paradise, the island of Sumba.

The Nihi Sumba Resort is truly a hidden gem but it might not be for long as Travel + Leisure picked it as The Best Hotel in the world in 2016 and then again in 2017. Nihi Sumba has eleven types of villas that make 27 residences with 38 bedrooms. The residences go from one to five bedrooms and all are themed and they even have a three-bedroom tree house called Malmoe, which comes with three pools and numerous outdoor lounging areas. I was fortunate enough to stay in the tree house for one night and I couldn’t think of one reason why I wouldn’t be happy living out the rest of my life there.

All the villas are scattered at different levels above the shore so all of them have sea views. The resort faces the sunset which can be seen from anywhere on the property. Their beach now ranks number one on my list and you can often have it all to yourself. Both outdoor/beachside restaurants offer great views of Nihi’s world-class surfing. The waves are unreal and on one occasion, I got to witness dolphins surfing the waves alongside the surfers!

Something that also stood out for me at Nihi was the “vibe”. Not only was everyone friendly, but also incredibly interesting. The mix of professional surfers, photographers and honeymooners made for some great conversation around the beach bar. And did I mention the horses? Nihi Sumba has a stable of what seems to be semi-wild horses, which could be seen running along the resort’s massive beach throughout the day. On more than one occasion, I was doing a photo shoot along their path and told not to move an inch as they approached and stampeded past me on either side. This was one of the scariest, yet at the same time, exhilarating experiences in my career and I was thankful for the opportunity (and the advice).

You have heard, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Well, in this case, try a million. Thank you Indonesia. Until we meet again.