One of the things we wanted to do in Flores was see Mount Kelimutu, a volcano with 3 lakes at the top of varying colours depending on the weather and other variables, we didn’t realise quite how far it was from Labuan Bajo and how long it could take to get there.
We could have got a shuttle bus there which would have taken 2 days and then get ourselves back but we decided it would be best to stretch the trip a little and see some sights along the way so we decided to hire a car and driver, sounds a bit extravagant but it was the best way to get there and back and we go to see a lot along the way.
We were expecting to be picked up at 7 am to start our fantastic journey – our driver, Jamie, was a bit late – his boss said he was washing the car but he later told he overslept as he was up all night watching Euro 2012!
The travel company we booked through had compiled a detailed itinerary for the trip, our first day was a long one – over 10 hours driving – but we stopped and saw some things along the way including the biggest rice field on the island, we stopped at a traditional village called Ruteng Puu where there wasn’t too much to see but the local kids have been schooled in english and can say “hello”, “where you from” and “money”!
Our last stop before our night in Bajawa was to see a local arac distillerey, arac is the local hooch and is made from either fermented rice or palm – this one was palm and after the initial shock of the strength of it it was rather nice!
We then set of for Bajawa where we stayed at Villa Silverinn which we’d seen in the Lonely Planet and thought it looked allright, however, it’s isolated from everything else and a lot more expensive than it should be, Jamie also disappeared to eat with his friends while we we stranded with no one around – turns out they have a restaurant across the road for us guests – although they don’t seem to have had any for a while as the cupboard so to speak. We tried to order drinks but they only had 2 bottles of (expensive) water in the fridge and it turned out to be easier to ask what they did have than what they didn’t have off the menu and it’s the only place we’ve come across in Indo so far with no chilly sauce! The room however was lovely, spacious and best of all a hot shower and breakfast the next day was plentiful – including deliciously strong Lombok coffee.
We left Bajawa and headed for Moni, the nearest village to Kelimutu, we were scheduled to stay at several local villages but decided to just stop at one to make sure we arrived before dark (it was dark and foggy when we arrived at Bajawa) The village we visited was called Bena and we arrived just as the heavens opened, luckily some nice local people invited us into their house to sit it out and offered us some nice Lombok coffee, we sat with them for a while before exploring the rest of the village. We arrived at Moni around half 3 so we had time to have a wander and saw the local waterfall where Sharlie almost got snacked on by a leech, and saw a local lady weaving Icat. We stayed at Hidayah guesthouse which was again nice, really big rooms but no hot water and it was chilly! On the owner’s reccomendation I ordered the Hidayah cake fro dinner – it was meant to be mashed potato with garlic and onion topped with cheese but what I got was some kind of mashed up veg between fried cream crackers – you could not make it up! It was tasty in it’s own special way!
We should have gone to bed early as we had to get up at 4 am for sunrise on Kelimutu but we stayed up watching Avatar on the netbook!
Day 3 began early and we had our doubts that Jamie would be up but he was ready to go on time and after a 30 minute drive we arrived at Mount Kelimutu where we trekked in the pitch black to Inspiration Point where we got to experience the beautiful sunrise, there was an eerie moment when there was no sound at all that was broken by everyone around us simultaneously having a coughing fit – very strange!
We had a great view of all 3 lakes although the black one was covered in a thick layer of mist, the other 2 though were a vivid turquoise blue. A troop of monkeys arrived in time for breakfast, Sharlie was disturbed by witnessing some aggressive monkey sex!
The pictures don’t really do it justice, it was awe inspiring and worth the long journey there.
We then started our long journey back to Labuan Bajo, we spent the night at Bajawa again but were adamant we weren’t staying at the Silverinn, Jamie offered to take us into the town if we stayed there though – shame he didn’t mention that on the first night! We stayed at the Eidlweis Hotel, the room was basic but suited our needs and was almost half the price of the Silverinn, the showers are flipping freezing though! Breakfast was awful though, it was as if they’d fried the banana pancakes in washing up liquid – not good at all!
Our last day was another long one but we did see the spider web rice fields at Lingko Cara which was a steep climb but worth the effort, before we arrived back at Labuan Bajo around 5pm and checked back into the Gardena again.
Although the distances aren’t too massive in terms of Kms, the steepness of the roads makes getting around realy time consuming, the weather along the way was very changeable, one moment we were in bright sunshine and the next we’d be shrouded in fog and rain. The temperature also varied on the trip, at certain points we were freezing and at others sweating our bits off.
Flores is a beautiful island, it has a real rough and raw feel to it, it’s probably the least touristy place we’ve been so far and that was quite refreshing.