Getting to North Nias from Gunung Sitoli
North Nias Regency is located in the northern part of Nias Island. It is easy to travel to North Nias by road from Gunung Sitoli, as the main road is very good. Here are some estimated driving times for popular destinations in North Nias:
|Alasa||Central (Interior)||1.5 hours|
|Lotu||North center||1.15 hours|
Taxi & Car rental
If you are going straight to North Nias you can take a taxi directly from the airport. Taxis on Nias are often unmarked minivans or SUV’s and drivers will wait for passengers at the airport and ferry terminal. Hotels in Gunung Sitoli can also arrange taxis for you. The private taxis are usually very comfortable modern cars equipped with air-conditioning.
Most visitors want to explore North Nias, and for this you need a vehicle. A car can easily be arranged in Gunung Sitoli. Rental cars usually come with a driver, and there are several advantages to this. Local drivers know the area, speak the language and can safely navigate the local back country roads. If there is a problem, they will deal with it; you are not responsible for the vehicle in the same way as if you drive by yourself. It is not a problem to rent a car with a driver for several days, the additional cost of food and accommodation for the driver will be factored into the price.
It is also possible to rent a car and drive by yourself. The main coastal roads can easily be navigated by anyone with a driving licence. But if you plan to explore the more remote areas, you should have experience in driving in rural Indonesia and speak a bit of the language. Many smaller roads are only suitable for four wheel drive vehicles.
Most Hotels in Gunung Sitoli can arrange cars with drivers. Look at the Where to Stay in Gunung Sitoli page for more information.
Patience is a virtue when making your way around Nias on public transport as it can be slow and difficult to access. There is no organised public transport to North Nias, but many private mini buses, called Angkots ply the roads between the larger villages and towns. Private Angkots generally don’t have fixed departure points or times. Typically they can be seen driving around the main market and downtown Gunung Sitoli, collecting passengers until full. The unofficial Angkot station for Lahewa bound minibuses is at the beginning of Jalan Sirao, a shopping street in the center of town, 50 meters from Hotel Gomo. Here there are usually a few minibuses waiting for goods and passengers heading for North Nias.
Going back to Gunung Sitoli from North Nias by Angkot is easier, as you can ask your guest house to help you find out where and when they leave for Gunung Sitoli. Travelling by Angkot is a great way to meet local people, but it requires the right mindset and lots of patience.
Getting to Afulu (for surfers);
For Afulu bound surfers arriving to the airport, it is best to charter a taxi (minivan) at the airport. Most drivers are usually going south, but they also know the way to Afulu in the north. Currently the only way to get there is to drive north from Gunung Sitoli to Lahewa, the main town in the north of the Island. After Lahewa the road turns south and eventually reaches Afulu. The trip takes 2.5-3 hours.
Sometimes surfers staying in the south of Nias, comes to Afulu for a few day when the surf is good. The drive from Sorake Beach to Afulu via Gunung Sitoli and Lahewa takes between 5-6 hours. It is currently not possible to drive to directly to Afulu from Sorake along the west coast, as there is a gap in the west coast road in the middle of the Island.