Finally I get to write this.
Some background about Flores: it is a very beautiful island, nature at its best but definitely not for you if you love shopping. There are a few high-end resorts and even a famous Italian restaurant near Labuan Bajo (the town where people usually land from Bali flights), but I skipped those and dig the local street food instead. The roads are not so well maintained here, and petrol is scarce that the gas station can run out of petrol mid-day! So I understood people will buy them from aunties along the street when this happens..(I really hope the government gives Flores more attention and support to flourish).
As I have mentioned in the sailing post here, I had a really great time not only because of the nature but it was also because the locals I met were so open and helpful and sincere and punctual and funny (and so everything gave me great cumulative experience!)
Right, so after sailing for 3D2N visiting the Komodo islands, my group stepped off the boat and started our land trip.
The destination? Waerebo village (Central Flores) and Kelimutu Lake in Moni (East Flores).
A summary of land trip:
Day 1: Left Labuan Bajo at 3pm and traveled by car to Dintor for ~6 hours (slow ride due to road condition). Spent the night at Waerebo Lodge
Day 2: Woke at 7am for breakfast and trekked up to Waerebo village (must visit!!) some 3 hours away. We reached at noon for lunch after being welcomed with a village ritual. The day was spent interacting with villagers and exploring the place. At dinner time, more visitors (mostly Europeans) had arrived so I spent time exchanging views with them.
Day 3: Woke at 6am ..did not catch the sunrise 😦 so we can be downhill before noon. Rode for ~9 hours to Moni- spent the night in Christine’s Lodge.
Day 4: Woke really early to reach Kelimutu Lake at ~5.30 am. That same morning off we went to Ende (to the airport) via Bluestone Beach. Flight back to Bali was ~2pm by Garuda Indonesia.
The whole story:
At Labuan Bajo, we were introduced to a local driver who was so good at driving the curvy+bumpy road I don’t know how he could stand 6 hours of driving without getting car-sick. I swallowed some anti-motion sickness pill and after some time in the car still felt sick (To be honest I tried to sleep but woke up at every huge bump about 10x along the way). We left Labuan Bajo ~3 pm and only reached the lodge at Dintor ~9pm. The toilet and beddings were simple but was such an upgrade after our sailing trip (you can only imagine if you’ve experienced one or the other!).
So the next morning we woke up early for breakfast (I was impressed they served brown rice) and then took off to trek a mountain nearby. The journey up takes ~3 hours before we arrive at Waerebo village, a fairy-tale like village with traditional cone houses. This is best described with a picture below..
Waerebo village was recognized by UNESCO in 2012, and its main product is coffee, be sure to buy some to bring back! If you ever plan to visit, bring lots of snacks and coloring books(with pencils) for the kids please. They also specifically mentioned they appreciate donation of thick clothing as it can get cold in the evening. So we stayed in one of those houses with other visitors from around the globe (met people from UK, Poland, Belgium, Germany) after a long day playing with the kids. After a good night sleep, we descended to the foot of mountain. If there was something I learnt here, it was contentment in simplicity aka gratitude 🙂
So off again we rode to Moni, this time it took ~9 hours on horribly curvy road ( there will be some fun when you are traveling with friends). The music in the car was random and we decided to have some live karaoke to get rid of car-sickness; imagine a very long road-trip in the darkness after 6pm LOL. When I said the island needs more investment and care, I mean for more street lights too. So we reached ~6pm and guess what! We almost did not get a room because last minute the accommodation we booked had taken some deposit from other tour group! Thanks to the driver’s quick move, we managed to find a nearby place called Christine’s lodge.
The next morning at 5am, our driver was already waiting to bring us to Kelimutu Lake, it was a 30-min drive. The parking was quite close to the summit so it took only another 30mins (on civilized pathway thankfully) to reach the top. We had our headlights and phone light (Xiao Mi phone proves to have the brightest light, take note!!) to shine the path – if you’re planning to come make sure you are dressed for some drizzle and strong wind. Up the summit you will find some aunties selling warm drinks and cup noodles, I recommend getting the ginger tea to warm you up instantly! I stayed for 1 hour as the fog was too strong; it covered the lakes I did not manage to get a good shot 😦
By 8 am, I was down at the car ready to get back for some breakfast. From the lodge, we rode on a 3-hour scenic drive to Ende where the airport is. On the way we stopped at Blue Stone Beach where seafood are overpriced.. and I am talking from the view point of an Indonesian :p
Overall I rate this adventure trip 5 star, love it!! If you don’t speak Indonesian, make sure to engage tour leaders who do, because they can help you experience the local culture. It will be annoying to miss something when you have already traveled so far! Btw Ende to Bali is a 1-hour flight, and you could just imagine more adventures waiting when you arrive in Bali (noone is judging if you opt for a cafe-hopping adventure).
Cost: I spent ~USD500 for the whole 7N6D Flores experience (sailing & overland) through a local agency who arranged transport & accommodation. Lunches & Dinners overland are on yourself. If you have local contacts and plan your own trip, I estimate the cost to go down to ~USD 350/pax for the same.
What do you think of the trip? Feel free to leave messages if you have questions. I can even share the contacts I have if you need to arrange transport. Happy planning!