Behind the Lens: A Glimpse into Stone Jumping on Nias Island, Indonesia

The lush Indonesian Island of Nias lies west of Sumatra and is home to idyllic beaches popular among surfers and a unique culture – with celebrations and festivals a fascinating part of its community heartbeat.

The ancient tradition of stone jumping is a breathtaking ritual on the island, where boy is said to become man as huge feats of athleticism and bravery collide. Individuals taking part leap through the air barefoot over two meter stone towers, carrying out this risky act in front of intrigued onlookers.

Stone jumping: skill, concentration and bravery

Willem van den Heever is an independent filmmaker, photographer, environmentalist and explorer from Cape Town, South Africa. During this Silversea expedition to Nias Island, his interest in filming indigenous tribes ignited his lens as he filmed incredible footage of this spectacle.

Capturing locals’ striking traditional costumes of red, black and yellow, Willem used slow motion as a technique to hone in on the moment a young man becomes laser focused on a jump that could easily result in injury.

Stone jumping in Indonesia
The locals’ striking costumes add color to the tradition of stone jumping/Willem Van den Heeve

As the dramatic event in this man’s life unfolds, the concentration and skill as he catapults from one stone over this tower against a backdrop of village houses left Willem, and other guests, in awe.