Flores and Komodo National Park. Here you will find you a tour around this amazing island, I think the most authentic one in Indonesia, which won’t leave you indifferent.
Flores offers splendid landscapes, native ethnics with a remarkable culture, and if that’s not enough it’s off Indonesia’s tourist circuit, plenty of reasons to want to know its spectacular landscapes of rice paddies, volcanoes, traditional villages, Komodo dragons and snorkeling on their shores.
Flores Airport Landing
Our arrival at Flores started off on the wrong foot. Upon arrival at Maumere’s airport, the mafia operating there struck us. We came overjoyed from Sulawesi after the route organized through Makasar airport’s travel agency worked so good; we thought there would be too a piece of cake, but quite the opposite, they chased us and the situation became a little unpleasant.
Avoid talking to them at all costs, just grab a taxi and get out of there as soon as possible.
Fleeing the Mafia we came across to Galena Hostel, where the receptionist in record time produced for us a must-see itinerary around Flores with a driver-guide; given the circumstances, the adventure ended very well, and we could perform all the essential visits in Flores.
FLORES. WHAT TO SEE AND DO
The Kelimutu volcano is an active volcano, with the peculiarity of its three lakes changing color. One is black/dark brown, another one turquoise and the other changes from white to red. These changes are because the craters have among their elements copper, manganese, iron and sulfur. When joining with the gases that emerge from the volcano, they react by changing the color.
Watching it at dawn increases its charm, according to the many visitors who show up to look at the view. We didn’t want to miss it either and here are the highlights you should know:
How to get there
Moni is the base town in the center of Flores where you need to overnight at.
The journey starts about 4:30 in the morning; we went with our driver, but you can also rent a motorbike or a car.
From the parking lot you have to walk about 30 minutes mostly up the hill along a paved walking track. It’s pitch black so you need a flashlight. The viewpoint is pretty cold and windy, don’t forget to take a jacket and gloves. As you wait for sunrise, there are vendors from which you can buy hot drinks coffee, tea and chocolate.
Sunrise moment is beautiful and then watch it over the tricolor craters as they change color, just amazing. But we found the scenery stunning too in daylight and thought we could have perfectly spared ourselves the early riser. It’s entirely up to you.
* Liang Bua Hobbit cave and Museum
Located 9 km north of Compang Ruteng, it is a limestone cave where the remains of Homo Floresiensis, also known as Hobbit, were found. In it, archaeologists also found bones of giant storks and primitive Komodo dragons.
The museum is a few meters away from the cave; it shows how these primitive homo specie lived. The explanations are quite interesting.
* Manggari Etnic group in Ruteng Pu’u village
Ruteng Pu’u is located 4 km from Ruteng on the way to Labuan Bajo. It is the perfect place to get to know what traditional Manggarai life was like and contemplate its typical round-shaped houses and sharp roofs. In the village stands the classic Compang or circle of stones with a sacred tree in the center.
A Compang is a stone altar placed in the courtyards of the traditional houses of the Manggarai community. It is the center of ancient rituals, where buffaloes and pigs are sacrificed in the pursuing of a bountiful harvest.
* Cancar Spider Rice Fields
17 km away from Ruteng town you will find an unique rice paddies arranged in a circular shape, set in patterns that look like a spider web. Hike a small hill up to reach the viewpoint from which you can overlook amazing views of the entire valley.
The Manggarai ethnic group distributes the land from a central point and assign each parcel to a family, so the rice field goes spreading and forms the “spider web”.
The entrance fee is IDR 15,000.
BAJAWA: TRADITIONAL VILLAGES
* Ngada Culture
The Ngada ethnic group spreads across several traditional villages in Bajawa. They are Catholics and animists, so like in Sulawesi they sacrifice animals and then spread the blood all over the town.
The houses of these ancient villages have wooden walls, are raised from the ground on pillars of only half a meter, and have a very high thatched roof that sometimes top it with ornaments that identify the family, and buffalo horns trophies.
If you’d like to appreciate this architecture at hand and get to know how its inhabitants live, you can stop by the nearby villages, Luba and Bena.
At 15 km from Bajawa, Luba is even more authentic than Bena. There’s no electricity, and as you enter it, it looks like you’re gone back to prehistory, or whatever you imagine from those times.
This village has more tourism, and they have come across an organization to receive tourists. At the entrance you write your details in a registration book and after that the guide ask for a donation. Then you can read some enlightened information about their villages and clans on a few instructive posters, specially helpful, if you aren’t familiar with this ethnic group.
Besides the village, you can see the Ikat weavers (typical skirt of different abstract drawings) and buy them directly if you wish.
At the time of the visit we were the only tourists, so that we enjoyed a quiet and pleasant tour, as a matter of fact we were happy to spend some time playing with the village’s kids.
Not to mention the surroundings are gorgeous with huge green bamboo forests.
Accomodation in Bajawa
The selection in Bajawa is quite limited, we stayed at Korina Hotel and don’t recommend it. We booked 4 rooms and all of them were very basic and not so clean. Try if you can look at other hotels up the hill, as quality is better.
Maybe you’ll be lucky and the hotel Bajawa-Roo Hotel won’t be fully booked.
KOMODO NATIONAL PARK
How to get to Komodo National Park
Since Labuan Bajo is the base town to organize a trip to meet the Komodo dragons, is packed with tourists, for that reason it’s advisable to book in advance. Other than this, Labuan has no interest.
We did on the way upon arrival, and after wandering long enough from hotel to hotel found availability at Chocolate Hotel.
In Labuan there are many agencies where you can book an organized cruise to visit Komodo National Park. It is important that you value well with which agency and boat you will make the trip.
The most common options are:
- 1 day
- 2 days (1 night)
- 3 days (2 nights)
The difference between being 2 or 3 days is just the time you spend doing the activities, as the spots are the same for both.
We booked a 2 day (1 night) cruise and both the boat and the crew were great, plus we enjoyed abundant and delicious food.
Tip: Before deciding for the agency you should check for yourself the boat condition to be sure what are you paying for, if it has life jackets e.g. and how clean it is. If you ask them, they’ll take you to the harbor to have a look at the boat and let you in too.
In case you’re wondering, here’s what the 2-day (1 night) cruise includes:
- Visit to the islands: Komodo, Rinca and Padar
- Snorkeling at: Pink Beach, Kanawa private island and Manta Point to see manta rays.
- Gear (glasses, tube and fins)
- All meals and all no-alcoholic drinks on the boat.
Price is about 120 euros.
What is excluded:
- Entrance to Komodo National Park. The price of the entrance to the park is per day and allows you to know the 3 main islands. This unique price is IDR 250,000 per person.
- The ranger or guide who takes you to see the dragons in the forest costs 80,000 IDR per guide (group price).
- The rate for snorkeling on Kanawa Island is 10,000 IDR.
Snorkel in Komodo National Park
The impressive snorkeling spots in Komodo National Park won’t let you indifferent, no wonder, as the park’s seabed is considered among the top best in the world.
In Manta Point you can see Mantas Raya, in Kanawa and Pink Beach hundreds and hundreds of colorful Nemo fish, Doris and others super cutes. Besides giant turtles and amazing multi formed corals.
Located between Rinca and Komodo, here we hiked to the top of the Island for amazing views and enjoyed taking part at an Asian couple wedding photos report.
Useful Information Komodo National Park
The park comprises 3 large islands and lots of islets. The large islands are Komodo, Rinca and Padar. Dragons inhabit only these 3 islands, nowhere else in the world.
The park was founded in 1980 to protect the komodos and later on expanded the protection to its coastal waters. Today it is a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve.
The journey between Labuan Bajo and Rinca takes about 2 hours. The first stop is in Rinca, in Loh Buaya, at the ticket office where you buy the park’s entrance fee.
Afterwards, you need to pay also for the services of a ranger or guide who will accompany you throughout the tour. His tasks consist on keeping the safe distance security between the dragons and the group (in case you find one) and explain all sort of dragon’s trivia.
You can choose a walking tour from 1 to 3 hours length through a barren forest. We were lucky and could see 3 young dragons.
Right at the entrance, next to where you buy the ticket, several dragons dozing in the sun.
The guide told us that in the mornings they are more active and hopefully you can see them feeding or fighting each other.
Considered the largest lizards on the planet, dragons inhabit only the Islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar, nowhere else in the world. Seen up close, they are impressive.
As adults, they are almost 3 meters long and weigh between 70 – 80 kg. A Komodo dragon lives between 40 and 50 years.
They’re predators and carnivals. The mother lays the eggs, incubates them for 8 months and leaves the nest. When she comes back, if the young are still in the nest, she devours them.
To prevent being devoured by predators, as soon as they break the egg, climb up the trees and live among them for their first 3 to 5 years, when they become adults.
Flores and Komodo National Park Guide Wrap up
To sum up, in my opinion it’s really worth a trip to Flores and Komodo and I’m sure you will love it!. The culture, the sandy beaches and landscapes, the snorkeling and the original Komodo dragons are some of the reasons why you should visit this beautiful island.
And after admiring these singular animals, we put an end to our stay on these idyllic islands of Flores. Next and last stop: Java (Yogyakarta and Bromo).
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