Flores is hardly short of attractions. While its coastline is the epicentre of beach & underwater tourism, the verdant highlands provide sanctuaries to fascinating ethnic minorities and hill-tribe villages. Portuguese traders and missionaries were fascinated by the beauty of the island already in the 16th century. Later on, the region became a magnet for the Western anthropologists. Today, adventurers and scuba divers set out on an epic journey through the island to reach its eastern tip and explore the islands volcanoes and their mysteries.

BAJAWA

Set amidst dramatic landscapes of steaming hot springs and volcanic slopes, Bajawa is rightfully the most visited tourist spot in the western highlands of Flores. Ngada district is the spiritual heartland of Flores famous for ancient, megalithic stones and totemic structures and strange occult rituals.  

Moke liquor and raerate dog meat cooked in its own blood, are used to perform the rites and this is a region where black magic and sorcery are household names. Gunung Inerie (2245 m) looming above Bajawa is one of the most spectacular volcanoes of Indonesia, offering a supreme trekking adventure.

Gunung Inerie

Gunung Inerie

ENDE

The lazy port of Ende is the second largest town in Flores, lying between the flat-topped volcano Pelabuhan Ipi and Mount Iya. The past eruptions and earthquakes caused massive damage and the locals live their everyday life in constant tension. Ash-black beaches stretch down both east and west coast, providing refuge to the tireless fishermen and the leafy hills from the other side serve as a shelter for the ikat-famous villages. Ende is a starting point to Moni and the attractive volcanic Kelimutu National Park as well as the gateway to the West Timor.

Wawo-mudha lakes, Soa hot springs

Wawo-mudha lakes, Soa hot springs

KELIMUTU NATIONAL PARK

Heading to Moni – the starting point for the marvellous Kelimutu crater lakes, you will have to drive around the volcano and its protected area. Moni is a picturesque village stretching along the road from the lower slopes of the volcano down to the valley floor and makes a great base from which to take the thrilling Kelimutu trek and reach the three strangely coloured crater lakes.

The lakes are considered to be the most startling natural phenomena in Indonesia. One lake an incredible milky jade-like tint, the other one is coloured in a kind of unreal shade of turquoise and the last lake appearing more like a big bowl full of chocolate – the constant change of colours in these crater lakes caused by the playful sunshine results in a miracle indeed.

The Kelimutu crater lakes

The Kelimutu crater lakes

To hike up to Kelimutu (1620 m), you will have to start just before 4 am to make it in time, before the sunrise, in order to get the most spectacular views. It is a short, 45 min trek to reach the lip of Kelimutu. Most of the visitors will arrange a local guide who brings them up and makes sure they do not get lost in the network of pathways in this volcanic land. There is a charming waterfall Air Tenjun to stop by on your way back which is perfect for having a dip after the long day.

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES

  • Mata Menge Caves in Liang Bua, not far from Rutang, is an archaeological site with a word’s significance. Remains of Homo Floresiensis, so-called Hobbit, were found here in 2003. This dwarfed human individual was only 1.1 m tall and might have lived in Flores more than 700,000 years ago.
  • Trek up to Gunung Inerie volcano (2245 m) to appreciate the staggering views of the Sumba Island in the far horizon. It is a one-day moderate hike starting from the altitude of about 900 m at the Watumeze village, near Bajawa.
  • Dip into the hot springs at Soa and enjoy the arresting surrounds, particularly in the evening, when it gets chilly. Optionally, you can have a nice walk starting at Ngoranale village to reach the picturesque, red coloured crater lake of Wawomudha (2-3 hrs).
  • Climb Mount Iya (627 m) in Ende so that you can delight in the excellent views standing on the edge of the very cliffs dropping off to the sea.
  • Enjoy the lazy charm of Moni while strolling at the local ikat markets and you might bargain a deal of your life. There are some nice walkaways in the surrounding hills as well.
  • Hike up to the three coloured crater lakes of Kelimutu and dive into the natural pools of the Air Tenjun Waterfall.
Mount Iya, Ende

Mount Iya, Ende

WHEN TO GO

The dry season spans from May till September and it is the best time to travel.


HOW TO GET THERE

Fly to Jakarta/Java or Denpasar/Bali.  Catch a local flight to Labuan Bajo or Maumere. To move around, there are frequent local or tourist buses, operating between Labuan Bajo-Ende or Labuan Bajo-Maumere.

For all international flights check out www.skyscanner.com or  www.momondo.com

For all domestic flights see https://www.garuda-indonesia.com/

Optionally, the cheap large ferry boats Pelni are quite popular means of transport between the Indonesian islands, especially among the local people and independent travellers.  If you travel overland see https://www.pelni.co.id/welcome?lang=en

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Eva Bodova

By Eva Bodova

Thursday 21 July 2016

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