FLORES, KOMODO and RINCA
Ende - Moni - Kelimutu volcano - Wologai village - Blue Beach - Bajawa - Luba village - Gurusina village - Bena village - Ruteng - Pu'u village - Cancar hill - Labuan Bajo - Komodo island - Pink Beach - Rinca island - Kelor island
Due to the stretched time limit, we spent in Flores only 6 days, but if you can - stay longer. We both love Bali and honestly didn’t expect Indonesia had anything better to offer. IT DOES. Flores is spectacular (see more photos of Flores here), and we really hope to go back there one day.
We took a flight from Denpasar (Bali) to Ende. From Ende, we took a taxi to Moni (about 2 hours).
Moni is a small village that serves as a starting point for trips to Kelimutu volcano. If you have enough time, take a stroll around – there are nice rice fields and a picturesque waterfall around (ask at your hotel for directions to the waterfall).
The trips to Kelimutu start before dawn. You can get there by motorbike or by car. Both to be arranged in your hotel or anywhere in the village (if you walk around, you’ll be approached by the locals offering you the transportation).
In our hotel, we met a couple who had similar plans (they were heading to Bajawa the following day), so we decided to team up and take a taxi together. We negotiated with the driver and agreed on the price that also included a morning trip to Kelimutu plus several stops on the way (i.a. in the Wologai village and at the Blue Beach).
At 4 am, the driver took us to Kelimutu, where he waited for us until 9 am (the time when the blue lake gets unshaded and thus ideal for pictures). The trekking from the parking lot to the top of the volcano takes around 30 minutes. Don’t stop for too long at the first viewpoint, as you’re going to miss the sunrise at the top spot (from where you’ll see the green lake changing its color). Go to the first viewpoint on your way back, when the sun is high, and you’ll see the blue lake in its full color.
The trip to Kelimutu is delightful, and the view of the three lakes (the least impressive black lake lies a bit aside) spectacular. We also spotted some monkeys on the way from the top.
From Kelimutu, we went to the Wologai traditional village. It is located near Moni, close to the main road to Ende. When you negotiate the price of transportation, make sure the village is included in your itinerary. It will take about 30 minutes to visit it.
From the Wologai village, we went to Bajawa, stopping at the Blue Beach (the name comes from the color of the pebbles, collected by the locals for various craft purposes) for half an hour. We don’t really think it was worth the effort, but we must admit the beach looks good on pictures (much better than in reality).
We also stopped at several viewpoints on the way (the road is beautiful, sit on the left if you travel by bus), so we arrived in Bajawa in the very late afternoon.
Our comments: The green and blue lakes of Kelimutu periodically change their colors (to red, for example). Thus, the pictures you might see on the internet will differ.
The fog might obscure the view on the lakes, so you’d better be there early in the morning. And take some warm clothes with you plus something to cover your head against the sun.
The Kelimutu volcano is located within the national park, so expect to pay for the tickets.
The transportation to Kelimutu can be arranged one way if you wish. You might trek down to the village (12 kilometers) if you decide to stay in Moni one more night.
The previous night in our hotel, we arranged a motorbike trip to three traditional villages near Bajawa (we also asked in several travel agencies within the town, but they were more expensive).
Note: We recommend to see the villages in this exact order. Although on your way to Luba and Gurusina, you will pass next to Bena, and you’ll be extremely tempted to stop by – visit it at the end. Bena is the most picturesque and accessible via a tarmac road, so expect to see buses loaded with tourists in the morning. On your way back, most of them will leave the place, and you’ll have all of it for yourself.
Before entering the villages, you’ll be asked for the “voluntary” donation. Any sum is accepted, but in some places, they frown if the donation does not meet their (high!) expectations – don’t worry about it.
At 2 pm, we were picked up by the shared taxi from our hotel (we also arranged it the previous night in our hotel), rode around the town a bit to gather more passengers, and went to Ruteng.
The trip took about 4 hours. We intended to sleep in the Susteran (the Catholic mission hotel), but we didn’t book a room ahead, and we arrived only to learn it was full. The taxi driver offered to take us to the FX 72 Hotel. We hadn’t heard about it before, but it was getting dark, so we took the risk.
Note: We don’t normally write about the hotels we stay in, but in this case, we’ll make an exception as the location of the hotel, in the middle of the rice fields, was wonderful. The sunset was beautiful, but the sunrise the next morning was beyond any words (see the pictures HERE). The only problem was mosquitos, but we bathed in DEET and were fine. We admit the hotel has its cons - basic rooms, problems with hot water, bad wi-fi, far from the town. But first – don’t expect the “Bali level” of accommodation in Flores, second – the surrounding rice fields are stunning and compensate for all the inconveniences.
The taxi driver offered to take us the next morning to the Cancar hill, from where we could watch the famous spiderweb rice fields. We agreed on the price and also arranged with him a pick-up to Labuan Bajo by another shared taxi.
Our comment: The shared taxis are much cheaper than the rented ones (unless you find the companions to divide the costs). But the downside is that you won’t stop for photos whenever you like, and considering Flores beautiful scenery, you will like to stop a lot.
There are also some public buses (the cheapest option) in Flores, but they are horribly slow, so take them only if you have plenty of time and a very limited budget. Click here for more information about transportation in Flores.
in 6 days
In the morning, the taxi driver picked us up from the hotel. First, he took us to the Puu traditional village (we were seriously intrigued with the name), then to the Cancar hill to see the spectacular spiderweb rice fields.
There’s a small fee to be paid before climbing the hill (it’s a very short climb). The view is spectacular and not to be missed. We were there in September and not all the fields were green, but it was beautiful anyway.
When we got back downhill, we were introduced to another taxi driver, who took us to Labuan Bajo.
We arrived in Labuan Bajo in the late afternoon (the driver took us to the hotel we booked) and managed to see the town, eat the overpriced pizza (we craved for it), and arrange the boat to the Komodo National Park for the next day.
Our comment: We tried to book a boat trip to Komodo National Park ahead, via the internet, but the prices we were given were ridiculously high. So we decided to find the trip when in Labuan Bajo. And it was a good decision – there are so many tourist offices in the town, that it’s very easy to negotiate the price. And there shouldn’t be a problem with finding a trip, even for the very next day.
The only problem was that we had a fixed vision of our trip – it had to last one day, and it had to cover both – Komodo and Rinca islands. September is offseason, and there wasn’t anyone taking the same route to share the costs, so we had to pay for the whole boat. There was no problem with one-day trips to Rinca only or Komodo-Rinca overnight (two or three days) though, so if you have one of those in mind, you’ll easily get a space on a boat.
The boat renting wasn’t cheap, but anyway, we paid less than we had been offered on the internet.
After a tour around Labuan Bajo, we took a taxi to the airport and went back to Denpasar (Bali was a starting point for all our island hopping trips in Indonesia).
Click here for more information on What to see and do in Flores.
We started very early, at 5 am. First, we went to Komodo, where we were extremely lucky to see five huge dragons inside the park (the photo in the “About us” section was taken that day). We’ve also seen many other animals.
Note: the park fee also covers the visit to Rinca if it’s done the same day.
From the Pink Beach, we went to Rinca Island. It is located closer to Flores, so many more tourists come here than to Komodo island.
Although the dragons are not fed anymore by the rangers (they used to be, some years ago), they still come close to the kitchen building at the rangers headquarters, lured by the smells. We arrived around lunch time, so we managed to see around a dozen of them waiting under the porch in the hope of the accidental morsels.
And it was quite a show to watch them getting what they wanted!
From Rinca we went back to Flores, stopping near Kelor island for more snorkeling and sunset watching.
We came back to Labuan Bajo around 8 pm.
W H A T T O S E E N E X T