Your Next Trip: Flores

Indonesia Expat - - CONTENTS - BY KATE PAR­ADIS

The is­land of Flores, home of the ex­tra­or­di­nary Ko­modo Na­tional Park, has much to of­fer and is worth tak­ing some time to ex­plore. It is sit­u­ated in the East Nusa Teng­gara re­gion. Flores trans­lated means flow­ers, which is apt, be­cause veg­e­ta­tion, flora and fauna are abun­dant. The is­land was colonised by the Por­tuguese in the 16th Cen­tury, and most of the pop­u­la­tion are Roman Catholic. Steeples and church bells of­fer a dif­fer­ent feel than the herald­ing mosques through­out Java, or the reli­gious of­fer­ings and the scent of in­cense to be found all over pre­dom­i­nantly-Hindu Bali. Di­rect flights to the capital, Labuan Bajo, are two and a half hours from Jakarta, or one hour from Den­pasar. The Ko­modo air­port is clean and wel­com­ing. It was re­cently re­named, ex­panded and now in­cludes an air-con­di­tioned lounge and Labuan Bajo’s first es­ca­la­tor!


A pop­u­lar tourist trip is a day jour­ney through Ko­modo Na­tional Park. High­lights of this jour­ney in­clude visiting the three main is­lands: Padar, Rinca and Ko­modo. Fan­tas­tic snorkelling at Pink Beach, Ko­modo drag­ons, trekking and iconic views make the jour­ney mem­o­rable. The un­der­wa­ter sights in­clude tur­tles, rays, sharks, mas­sive schools of fish and plenty of co­ral. Div­ing is great but note the cur­rents can be quite strong. Rinca and Ko­modo is­lands have well­marked hikes and guides that take you to see the Ko­modo drag­ons. Re­mem­ber to keep your distance and be re­spect­ful of their nat­u­ral habi­tat. Padar Is­land fea­tures a stun­ning view from the hill­top. Hik­ing to the top early morn­ing be­fore it’s too hot is a good idea, and fol­low up with a swim at the end.

There is a va­ri­ety of boats at vary­ing prices to take you on this tour of Ko­modo Na­tional Park. Ask around for a per­sonal rec­om­men­da­tion, as quality is dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine from the web­sites, and you may want to ne­go­ti­ate for a bet­ter price than you see ad­ver­tised. It is fastest to depart by boat from Labuan Bajo, but if you want a longer cruise you can start from Lom­bok. If pos­si­ble, ditch the cabin for a night and sleep on the boat deck. The dis­play of stars from the boat is ab­so­lutely awe-in­spir­ing.


Labuan Bajo is con­stantly de­vel­op­ing. Lux­ury re­sorts have only just started to ap­pear, Ayana and Plataran be­ing among them. Bring your ad­ven­tur­ous spirit and take ad­van­tage of the sim­ple eco re­sorts if that is your pref­er­ence. If you do spend a few days in the city make sure to visit a fish mar­ket, where you can choose your freshly-caught fish and have it cooked on the spot. En­joy a drag­on­fruit smoothie while you wait for your fish to be pre­pared.


From Labuan Bajo, jump on a quick flight to Ende and go by car to the town of Moni. Driv­ing along the wind­ing tran­sFlores High­way is ex­hil­a­rat­ing. The views are stun­ning in all di­rec­tions: moun­tains, thick lush green forests, rice pad­dies and hid­den vil­lages. The air is crisp and fresh in the coun­try­side. Pick a guest­house to stay in be­fore your trip up Mount Ke­limutu the fol­low­ing morn­ing. Ke­limutu is no doubt a won­der of In­done­sia and only re­quires 30 min­utes of trekking. The main at­trac­tion is the view of the three sul­phur lakes. They change colour de­pend­ing on the min­eral and gas con­tent, but of­ten three dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent colours are vis­i­ble: hues of turquoise, brown and orange/red. The leg­end says that ne­glected an­ces­tral souls are re­spon­si­ble for the chang­ing colours. This place is mys­ti­cal and a must-see in In­done­sia.


Wae Rebo vil­lage is a pop­u­lar spot where tourists can ex­pe­ri­ence an overnight stay in a tra­di­tional Mang­gara­ian vil­lage (the Mang­garai are Flores’ in­dige­nous in­hab­i­tants). It is tucked away in the moun­tains, ac­ces­si­ble via a three­hour trek from Denge. Af­ter three hours of scenic hik­ing (think lush green forests, wild or­chids and wa­ter­falls), a clear­ing opens up, re­veal­ing sev­eral cone-shaped mbaru

niang (drum houses). Th­ese tra­di­tional houses are con­structed from palm fi­bre and wood. They of­ten house up to eight fam­i­lies, sym­bol­is­ing the unity of the clan. Cer­e­mo­nial songs are per­formed in the houses us­ing sa­cred drums and gongs. On this trip you will get the op­por­tu­nity to so­cialise and dine with the lo­cal com­mu­nity, and wit­ness them tend­ing to their cof­fee crops and weav­ing

songket (tra­di­tional Flores cloth). This trip is a very pop­u­lar cul­tural at­trac­tion and can be or­gan­ised through a choice of guides.


Of­ten missed by vis­i­tors are the north beaches of Flores. Con­sider in­clud­ing Maumere and sur­round­ing area in your tour plans. Of­ten Jakarta trav­ellers will try to fit in only Ko­modo over a long week­end, but I highly rec­om­mend tak­ing some more time to ex­plore the other awe­some sites Flores has to of­fer. The cul­ture is vi­brant and ev­i­dence of unique tra­di­tions is ev­ery­where.

The is­land of Flores, home of the ex­tra­or­di­nary Ko­modo Na­tional Park, has much to of­fer and is worth tak­ing some time to ex­plore.





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