Wawo Muda

Wawo Muda

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Wawo Muda (1753m) is the latest volcano to emerge in Flores, exploding in 2001 and leaving behind a mini-Kelimutu, complete with several small crater lakes coloured a burnt orange. Pine trees charred by the eruption stand in isolated patches, and there are spectacular views of Gunung Inerie.

The volcano is best visited in the wet season from November to March, if the trails are not too muddy. The lakes usually evaporate in the dry. To get there take one of the regular bemos from Bajawa (8000Rp, 50 minutes) or an ojek to the village of Ngoranale, near Menge, and walk an hour up an easy-to-follow trail. Some ojek drivers may offer to take you the whole way up, as the path is doable on a motorbike.

Paga

Paga

Paga

One of our favorite slices of Flores is the rice farming and fishing hamlet of Paga, halfway between Moni and Maumere. Its wide rushing river kissing the shore is a treat, so is the lovely beach and placid bay. But you’re here to lunch at the fabulous Restaurant Laryss, a tumbledown, beachfront fish joint, that is easily the best restaurant in Flores. Owner Agustinus Naban speaks German and English. Sometimes he has snapper, generally it’s tuna, plucked fresh that morning, rubbed generously with turmeric and ginger, squeezed with lime and roasted on an open flame flavored with coconut shells. It will be served with red rice and a buttery sambal that is hot but not scalding and full flavored. Or get the soul-stirring ikan kuah assam (tamarind fish soup), an oily, savory, spicy broth swimming with a chunk of steamed fish.

If you fall in love with Agustinus after such a magnificent feast, and why wouldn’t you, hire him as your guide, and he’ll show you megalithic stone graves and amazing ocean views from the nearby village of Nuabari. You can barely see his restaurant from the road east of town and buses won’t stop here, so you’ll need private transport. Drivers know it well.

Ahuwair, Wodong & Waiterang

Ahuwair, Wodong & Waiterang

Wodong

Wodong

The greater Maumere area does not get any more tranquil or beautiful than the narrow, palm-dappled beaches of Ahuwair, Wodong and Waiterang, 26km to 29km east of Maumere. There are two simple bungalow operations here and a shockingly inexpensive and classy barefoot resort with a scuba school.

There’s an impressive variety of dive and snorkelling sites with plenty of marine life around Pulau Babi and Pulau Pangabaton, a sunken Japanese WWII ship, and colourful microlife in the ‘muck’ (shallow mudflats). Happy Dive, based at Ankermi cottages, charges €55 for two dives, including gear and boat transfers. In November whale-watching trips are also offered, although you’ll probably see migrating sperm whales spout from the beach.

Wodong, the main village in the area, is on the Maumere–Larantuka road. Take any Talibura, Nangahale or Larantuka bemo or bus from the Lokaria terminal in Maumere (3000Rp). A bemo from Wodong to Waiterang costs another 1000Rp. A taxi or chartered bemo from Maumere is around 50,000Rp. Buses and shared taxis to Larantuka pass by throughout the day.

Kelimutu

Kelimutu

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There aren’t many better ways to wake up than to sip ginger coffee as the sun crests Kelimutu’s western rim, filtering mist into the sky and revealing three deep, volcanic lakes – nicknamed the tri-coloured lakes because for years each one was a different striking shade. Kelimutu National Park remains a Nusa Tenggara must. It is spectacular even though at research time there were two turquoise lakes – one with flecks of rust, while the third was dark green, but from the right angle looked like black glass. The colours are so dense that the lakes seem the thickness of paint. It’s thought that dissolving minerals (a process that can accelerate in the rainy season) account for the chameleonic colour scheme – although one of the turquoise lakes never changes, the others fluctuate to countless shades of yellow, orange, red and brown. The summit’s moonscape gives Kelimutu an ethereal atmosphere, especially when clouds billow across the craters and sunlight shafts burn luminescent pinpoints to the water’s surface.

Kelimutu is sacred to local people, and legend has it that the souls of the dead migrate here: young people’s souls go to the warmth of Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (Turquoise Lake), old people’s to the cold of Tiwu Ata Polo (Brown Lake) and those of the wicked to Tiwi Ata Mbupu (Black Lake).

Ever since locals led early Dutch settlers here, sightseers have made the sunrise trek. Today there’s a sealed road up to the lakes from Moni, 13.5km away at the base of the mountain. Visit in the rainy season or in the afternoon and you will probably have Kelimutu to yourself, but pray for a sunny day – the turquoise lakes reach full brilliance in the sunlight.

There’s a staircase up to the highest lookout, Inspiration Point, from where all three lakes are visible. It’s not advisable to scramble around the craters’ loose scree. The footing’s so bad and the drop so steep, a few careless hikers have perished here.

Riung

Riung

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Riung is a wonderful little town, lush and isolated, stitched with rice fields, stilted with fisherman shacks, framed with coconut palms and buzzing with only 13 hours of daily electricity. Coming from Ende you’ll drive along a parched and arid coastline that skirts a spectacularly blasted volcano before a sudden burst of foliage swallows the road as it winds into town. The effect makes Riung feel like an island unto itself, part of some whole other time and place. Locals are even more warm and ever smiling than elsewhere in Indonesia (and that’s saying something). The guesthouses are homey, the quiet streets are made for walking, and the waterfront a gateway to a marine park. Only its relative inaccessibility (read: horrifying roads) keep it from profound development.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/riung

Moni

Moni

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Moni is a picturesque village sprinkled with upcountry rice fields, ringed by soaring volcanic peaks and blessed with distant sea views. It’s a slow-paced, easy-going, cool breeze of a town that serves as a gateway to Kelimutu. On clear, dark moon nights, you’ll walk the silent streets beneath a black dome universe. The turn-off to Kelimutu is 2km west of town. The Monday market, held on the soccer pitch, is a major local draw and a good place to snare local ikat.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/nusa-tenggara/moni

Ruteng

Ruteng

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A market town and meeting point for the hill people of western Flores, Ruteng is the heart of Manggarai country, which extends to the west coast from north of Aimere. The town is surrounded by rice fields on gentle slopes beneath a line of volcanic hills.

Ruteng is a pleasantly cool town of broad streets, but it’s spread out and not particularly atmospheric, though there are some interesting sights in the vicinity. Most people just spend a night here, stopping to break the interminable bus journey.

Ruteng’s lively, sprawling pasar (Jl Kartini) is a meeting place for people from the surrounding hills.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/nusa-tenggara/ruteng

Larantuka

Larantuka

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A bustling little port of rusted tin roofs at the easternmost end of Flores, Larantuka rests against the base of Gunung Ili Mandiri (1510m), separated by a narrow strait from Pulau Solor and Pulau Adonara. It has a fun street-market vibe at dusk, when streets come alive with the commerce of fresh fruit and fish, but most visitors stay just one night on their way to Kupang or Alor. Easter is a particularly good time to be in town, when there are huge processions of penitents and cross-bearers.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/nusa-tenggara/larantuka

Bajawa

Bajawa

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Framed by forested volcanoes and blessed with a pleasant climate, Bajawa, a laid-back hill town at 1100m, is a great base from which to explore dozens of traditional villages that are home to the local Ngada people. Bajawa is the Ngada’s de facto trading post, and you’ll mingle with them as you stroll these quiet streets edged by blooming gardens. Gunung Inerie (2245m), a perfectly conical volcano looms to the south where you’ll also find some hot springs. The recently emerged volcano, Wawo Muda, with its Kelimutu-esque lakes, is another favourite among the trans-Flores set.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/nusa-tenggara/bajawa

Maumere

Maumere

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Blessed with a long, languid coastline backed by layered hills, Maumere, is one of the main gateways to Flores, and remains well connected with Bali and Timor, so you’ll probably wind up here for a night. Yet despite recent, mostly effective, efforts to pave the crumbling streets and control its once overwhelming litter problem, this is not exactly a charming urban destination. Thankfully, you don’t have to stay in the city. Snag one of the sweet beach bungalows on the coast.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/nusa-tenggara/maumere