The Rough Beauty of Flores


Flying in

Transfer from your hotel in Bali to the airport & boarding a flight to Maumere. Meeting service at the airport of Maumere, a sleepy town on the northeast coast of Flores, followed by transfer to your hotel, which is just outside town. In the afternoon, we explore Maumere and the vicinity. The city is a major centre of Sikkanese culture, predominant in east Flores and one of the many vying for attention on this wonderful island. The surrounding are strewn with today's proof of Catholic missions, that first came some 400 years together with the Portuguese Dominicans. Visit an old but extremely friendly Bugis village. Then it is on to some interesting villages where ikat weaving was transformed into true art. Sikka was one of the first Portuguese settlements in Flores. Today it is still an important centre of distinct Sikkanese weaving. The centre is dominated by a late 19th century church. A bit further, you can make an easy walk from Watublapi to Ohe and enjoy a magnificent view over both coasts of Flores.

Onwards to Moni

Travel through a hilly landscape and narrow valleys, passing by charming villages where weaving is still done by hand. Stop at any of them and you'll be able to observe the artisans at work. Gradually you'll start appreciating the differences in motifs, depending on the area ! You will spend the night close to the mountain slope, among scores of lush rice paddies. Moni is also home to the Lio people, who speak a dialect of the Ende language. Their ikat weaving is branded by long pieces adorned by bands of blue and rusty-red.

Kelimutu Exploration

By minibus to Moni and onwards by foot to the top of the Kelimutu, a remarkable extinct volcano is topped by three different colored lakes. This startling phenomenon, caused by the ever changing level of minerals in these still waters surprises all visitors. Local legend has it that the lakes are the home of the souls of deceased people. Continue by bus to Ende, the biggest town of the island. The population of this spectacularly located town, is evenly split by Muslims and Christians, with a mix of Melanesian and Malay features. The ancient aristocracy link to their ancestors through myth and magical events, claiming they are descendants from the kings of the old, Javanese Majapahit empire.

From Ende to Bajawa

Before leaving Ende, the biggest town on the island and an important transport hub, you'll visit a lively fish market on the waterfront. In the early morning one can observe how the fishermen get their catch of the night on the beach with the first rays of the sun. Locals rush to the scene to buy the best catch ! Before leaving this area, you'll have a last view over the splendid surroundings of the Ende peninsula, bordered by Gunung Meja and Gunung Iya to the south. Along black beaches bordering the Indian Ocean, steep valleys and pristine rain forest, the road leads to your next destination, Bajawa.

Exploring Bajawa

In Bajawa there is magic around every corner. The area is home to some fascinating traditional villages, scattered around Mount Inerie, a mighty, sacred volcano of some 2.200 m. Ancient priests guard over old, animistic beliefs, symbolized by ngadhu and bhaga, totem pole-like figurines, dedicated to male and female ancestors. Most of these villages are protected by stone, megalith monuments. In between rows of high thatched roofs, decorated with buffalo horns and jawbones, they are often smeared with blood from animal sacrifice. There are hot springs and giant ancestor tombs still used in present day ceremonies. If you are lucky you might witness a caci fight, vigorously fought between two young men clad in sarong, using rattan sticks and wooden shields. It is definitely worth spending a day in this magical area.

From Bajawa to Ruteng

After a full day drive along the most beautiful landscapes in the world, we reach the next transit point. The plantations the Manggarai district, grow some of the best coffee in Indonesia ! It is a pleasant walk through the spacious and spotless streets to the market of Ruteng, a cool and relaxing place. Ruteng is the capital city of Manggarai hill people, one of the better known ethnic groups in Flores, wearing their signature black sarongs and going on with their daily life in a shy but friendly manner. No matter how "official" Christianity is in this region, animist practices remain lingering in large pockets. You may still find the occasional compang, a ring of flat stones, buried under offerings.

From Ruteng to Labuhan Bajo

Before we leave Ruteng, we visit a local coffee factory, where fine Indonesian coffee is prepared for export to the other islands. Past several traditional villages, onwards through the much drier western part of Flores until you reach the west coast.

Wild Komodo

Before dawn you will board a local fisher boat and sail to the home base of one of the most fascinating living creatures on earth, the Giant Lizard of Komodo. The trip leads past some of the most beautiful sea-scapes in the world. Your captain will skillfully negotiate the brown patches of land, small islands in a deep blue sea. Komodo island and Rinca are home to the Varanus Komodoensis, the scientific name for this fantastic creatures. Most specimens of this native lizard species look very heavy -they can measure 3 meters long and weigh up to 150 kg- but appearances are deceptive. With its disjointed jaws, poisonous bites and the vicious way in which it kills its prey, the omnivorous ora is one of the most efficient beasts of prey nature has ever created... The animals were already discovered at the beginning of the last century and although immediately protected by legislation, their survival is not guaranteed. Direct poaching of the animal is not a threat as their skin is not suitable for leather production but their eggs are often eaten by scores of wild dogs. During a hike on either Komodo or Rinca, under guidance of a park ranger, a meeting with these fantastic beasts, is most probable ! After this expedition, you can rinse off all excitement on one of the many semi-deserted beaches, teeming with coral gardens. Return to Labuhan Bajo for overnight.

Leaving Flores

After breakfast, transfer to airport and depart to your next destination. Transfer to your hotel in Bali or assistance with checking in on your next flight.