Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 24 June 2011 • Itinerary
(Cindy) The sun peeks in through the bamboo-fiber roof waking me up lazily at 6 in the morning. So I shower lazily, I pack lazily and I chew on my breakfast lazily, as I think, ‘phewhhh, this is gonna be one hell of a long day’. And Mumun and I hopped on our chartered ojeg and the journey begins. One..Two..Three.. *INHAAAALLLLEEEE*…
(Mumun) It was planned! We were to head to Kelimutu lakes to then continue to Bajawa for the sake of saving time and seeing all the things we wanted to see. Yes, it’s a consequence of being a bit ambitious on the road. A long day spent on a long windy road, as traveling Indonesia should be.
How to get there
Kelimutu National Park
From Waiterang, get an ojeg to Maumere, to catch the morning bus to Ende. Ojeg costs IDR 50,000 /pax. You can get less if you negotiated upfront.
Busses to Ende, pass Moni after 3 hours on the road. It cost 50,000/ pax from Maumere to the town of Moni.
Catch the bus to Ende paying about IDR 20,000/pax. We happen to hop on a mini bus that costed too much (IDR 40,000). Never again!
From Ende, we caught the last ‘taxi’ at about 6 pm. The ride cost IDR 75,000 / pax.
Ojeg was the choice for us to visit Kelimutu and back down. Each ojeg cost IDR 75,000 / pax. Rides also include stops to the waterfall and any extra stops necessary.
We chose to dine at Bintang hostel, recommended by Pak Kermi himself. Food was alright, but the company was better! Pak Tobias was a ton of help getting us to our next destination.
An alternative for you is Pak Tobias hostel of IDR 250,000 / night including breakfast, hot showers and just the essentials of a good basic hotel.
Usually, getting out of bed during a vacation is a bummer. However, it’s always a pleasure to wake up early by the beach, to a great bathroom, and to be served a lovely breakfast. I can’t say I’m a big fan of waking up early (it’s because I CAN’T! Khihihihi… ) but I always put a little effort to do so during vacation. Not to mention we had a bus to catch. So as we were having our nummy breakfast, our ojegs were ready to start our surprisingly long journey!
We left on an ojey from Waiterang and arrived in Maumere 50 minutes later. Keneks (or so called bus driver helpers) immediately surrounded us, ‘convinced us to pay an astronomical IDR 50,000 each for an ojeg ride which should have cost half, and pulled our backpack (consequently with us) towards the minibus that stops by Moni. Crammed inside with locals traveling home after the great Easter parade in Larantuka, we were glad when we arrived in one piece, 3.5 hours later in Moni.
Guess what we heard on the radio in that bus? “The tide is high so I’m holding on, I’m gonna be your number one, … I’m not that kind of girl who gives up just like that…”. Surprisingly, it was the Atomic Kitten version released 9 YEARS AGO?! Amazing that’s still ‘in’ around these parts of the world? Coming in to Moni, I personally was mesmerized. Moni, surprisingly, is a small town in the middle of a vast valley. It had rice paddies all around it and the sea is vaguely seen between hills in the distance. It was picturesque!
Once arriving in Moni, we headed directly for Bintang, recommended by Pak Kermi from Waiterang. Apparently, Pak Kermi used to work around Moni before starting a business in Waiterang. And Pak Tobias of Bintang wisata (as mentioned in the Lonely Planet) used to work a lot with Pak Kermi. Once getting acquaintance with Pak Tobias wife, we settled our bags (politely) and left as fast as we came. We then hopped on another ojeg for 45 minutes through the hiking and winding road of Kelimutu National Park. As we felt the cool air and filled our lungs with the cool fresh air, the tense in our muscles from the rough morning journey started to release it selves. Slowly, we absorbed the beautiful green mountain scenery into our senses.
Starting with rice paddies and then high rising trees with moss all over, signified that we are at elevated land, all the way up to the craters official gates. Just when I thought the sight of Moni town was jaw dropping, I lost my jaw to the view I saw at the gate. It was panoramic, spacious, and grand! Colors of blue and green competing with each other! Paying our retribution of IDR 5,000 / person (foreigners IDR 20,000 /person) we continued our journey.
Reaching the final parking area, filled with local ikats (woven cloth), we did the 15 minutes hike up the last hundred meters of Mount Kelimutu. We were accompanied by an ecosystem shift from mountain pines to nothing. So hours after, the peaceful morning begins at 1639 m higher. Usually people chase the sunrise of Kelimutu. Little do people know that it’s a 50-50 chance that you can actually see this priceless sunrise due to the mist that comes in the morning. I myself, am not as ambitious to see this sunrise. Sure, it would be magical, but any sunrise would be on a beautiful scenery. So we thought it’s better to see the color of the lake, which is its best trait.
The first crater-lake we saw,Tiwu Nua Muri Koo Fai, was shining with its brilliant turquoise water with a glow enhanced by the sun reflecting on its surface. This beautiful hue, caused by the iron precipitating in a super acid environment (pH of 0.7!) would change periodically due to gases coming from below, meaning that the volcano is still active.. Yikes!! (I do need to point out that Cindy is an environmental geek, and a proud one too. Go Cindy!! Woohoo!!) Tiwu Ata Mbupu, the crater right next to the former, was slightly less acid and has a darker turquoise hue. Whereas Tiwu Ata Polo was dark brown and was more vegetation-friendly marked by the pine trees surrounding the crater mouth. These colors and its changing nature granted the lakes a mystical air. No wonder locals say that these lakes were where the soul would reside after death. TiwuNuwaMuri Koo Fai was the Lake of Young Men and Maidens,Tiwu Ata Mbupuwas the Lake of Old Peopleand that Tiwu Ata Polo was the Bewitched or Enchanted Lake.
The rarest color is red. Supposedly, you can see the lakes turn red during a small slot within summer (dry season). But we couldn’t tell for sure, since the sign at the parking lot seem to show the same color for the entire year 😛 a.k.a sun and rain-washed faded color pictures. I’m sure the local government has money from retribution to renew the planks *rolling eyes.
We also had a plan up our sleeves. I did a bit of browsing and stumbled on to this link, showed it to Cindy, and suddenly she came up with this brilliant idea to do this opposite (as you can see bellow). I was in black (cloth from Semana Santa), Cindy was in color. Another dress up during the this Flores trip, YAY! Anyone who saw us, or seen us on our social media channel, would comment if we had anything to do with the Taliban. Well of course not! But I guess the black did give that effect. However, it was so much fun to take the picture!
Overall, Kelimutu lakes are spectacular! I didn’t really realize why it was so during the first minutes I was huffing and puffing at the top of the crater. But it hit me just as I saw the details of the crater that makes it so significantly worth the visit. The jagged rocks, the layering of time, and the deep color of the lake itself were indescribable. It was like looking at a high definition picture, but better!
We took our time to process the mouth-gaping view of the lakes and their surrounding while chatting with Pak Ahmad who sells some Ikat and beverages on the Kelimutu peak. He usually has to walk 5 km up the hill just to sell his goods. What a man! We chatter before we looked on our watch, looked at each other, took another deep breath and realized we had to …GO! We were still far from our destination.
We walked down, got back on our respective ojegs, stopped by the Murundao waterfall and … click! Click! On the camera. This waterfall is a typical medium waterfall. It’s a great cool off, especially if you hiked up and down the Kelimutu trail. The water is cool, clean, and the surrounding area is such a great place to hang out.
Thirty minutes later, we were at Bintang Hostel. Had our lunch, grabbed our bags, and chatter quickly with Pak Tobias, lovely owner of the hotel who helped us find our chartered angkot that was heading to Ende to take a group of elderly to a funeral. Two and a half hours and IDR 40,000/pax later, we arrived exhausted and disappointed to have missed the scenery due to the dark plastic films commonly installed on angkot windows. People listen up! This is an important note! You have to be in a vehicle with a decent window, on a motorcycle, or on top of a bus during this lag. From behind the tinted window of our angkot we can tell you, the view is breath taking! We were driving on the edge of a cliff with the river gushing below, and the lower lands peeking between the hills that we passed. Oh! Take me back there.
Looking on the bright side, our angkot had dark tinted decorated windows, handle bars on the ceiling to hold on to, and a red light in the passengers cabin during the night. OK, so how is that the bright side? Anything is brighter than the fact we didn’t see the spectacular scenery better than we did 😛 But seriously, the angkot was damn funny!
A few head heated shouting between keneks of our chartered angkot and our next travel bus started out next lag of the trip. This lag of the journey had no fixed price. You really have to bargain hard to get the decent price! Eventually the situation allowed us to take the Ende – Bajawa ‘shared taxi’ for IDR 75,000/pax. Did I mention that we moved from a red light car to a blue light vehicle? Flores people are kinky, Rrrrrrrr! Freezing riding for 4 hours because no one really wanted to close the window, we were relieved when we arrived at another Bintang hotel, this time in Bajawa.
In the remaining energy that we had that night, we discussed about the days journey. Such a small island offers so much on the road, and such a long one too. We’d been traveling for about 12 hours with various vehicles all for the sake of seeing Flores beauty, which we did. It was tiring but worth the trip! As we put ourselves to sleep prepared for another day that awaits us, we can’t help but think… Indonesia is really trully, dangerously beautiful 🙂
Pak Tobias is offering a room just above his restaurant. It costs IDR 250,000 / night which include a clean bath bathroom, hot water, towels, and I can’t be sure, but I think breakfast. The room was really nice and spacious. We definitely recommend it!
Meanwhile his sister (I think) has offered a few room for years now. Each room cost IDR 200,000 / night. It’s a good for a decent to nice sleep.
Kelimutu National Park
We booked ojegs the night before through Ankermi. We asked for an early ojeg, which needed to arrive to Ankermi at 7 am. They were early. Surprise! Well not really because they’re probably used to punctual tourist by now, having called by Ankermi. So, we finished our delish breakfast to then hop on the motorcycles.
The ojeg arrived in Maumere about 50 minutes later at the buss stop where the bus from larantuka to Ende were waiting. Surprises kept on coming, assuming Ankermi already bargained the price as what they said of about IDR 25,000 / pax. Ojegs costs IDR 50,000 /pax. You can get less if you negotiated upfront.
We caught up with the Bus from Larantuka to Ende that morning. I can’t really say where we caught the bus but the locals all know where to catch it. As predicted, the bus was half full. People were coming back home from Larantuka after the Easter ceremony of Semana Santa. But we did manage to get a seat.
Buses are relatively small. I’m sure it’s a bit too small for any foreigner so be prepare to score a seat that has a lot of leg space, such as those located on the alley of seats or just beside the door. After about 3 hours of winding road, we asked the keneks to drop us at ‘Bintang’ Hostel as recommended by Pak Kermi. They knew just where to drop us as we only had to walk about 2 minutes to ‘Bintang’.
We headed up to the crater with a rented ojeg. The ojeg was so called organized by Bintang which was tonnes of help. We negotiated a standard IDR 75,000 to get to and back from Kelimutu crater for the whole day. Lucky for them we were only there for about 3 hours. But you can use them more. Hmm… that came out wrong khihihihihi….