Highlights of Flores Posted by sasha on Dec 6, 2016 in Uncategorized
Rugged and beautiful, the island of Flores is a place that should be high atop your list if visiting Indonesia. The name – “flowers” in Portuguese – wasn’t the only thing left behind by the colonists, as a vast majority of the people here are Christians. The island is also very culturally diverse, with at least six separate languages and countless more local dialects. Home to world-class diving, pristine beaches, towering volcanoes, unique villages, a “Hobbit Cave,” and the legendary Komodo dragons, a trip here is an adventure like no other. Here are some highlights of traveling across the fascinating island of Flores:
The town of Ende may not be the most spectacular stop of a tans-Flores journey, but it’s a good way to break up the journey on the island’s lone highway – a long and winding road from east to west. With a day in the area, you can check out a local village, see the former home of Soekarno, and walk along the scenic blue stone beach. It’s very much a sleepy port town, but it’s one of the biggest on the island.
On the western end of the island, the town of Labuan Bajo is the busiest on Flores in terms of tourism. This is thanks to the excellent diving options that surround it and the fact that it’s the nearest airport to Komodo National Park. It’s actually called Komodo Airport, by the way. Don’t worry, though – it’s nothing like the beach towns of Bali in terms of crowds. Plan your trip to go diving and see the dragons, and spend at least a day walking around the town. There are more choices for accommodation and dining here than anywhere else on the island, so consider ending your trip here as a reward for traversing the rest of the island.
Relaxing in Maumere
On the other side of the island, you’ll find the “bustling” town of Maumere. If you’ve been to other Indonesian cities like Jakarta or Denpasar, you’ll see why the quotations are needed. It’s the biggest town in Flores, and yet there’s not a whole lot going on. In fact, you can skip the town entirely and head to one of the hotels located 20-30 minutes up the road along the coast. Kick back, relax, and enjoy the slow pace of life and natural beauty.
Climbing Mt. Egon
While there’s nothing wrong with just enjoying a vacation and totally chillin’ out in Maumere, adventure seekers do have a few options. One is climbing Mt. Egon, an active volcano just outside of town. Be sure to check for advisories, as a high-level of activity was reported just earlier this year. It’s a tough hike on your own – we took quite a few wrong turns – so it’s not a bad idea to bring a local guide along. The hard work pays off with unreal views of the surrounding area and the crater.
Hobbit Cave/Spider Web Rice Fields
From the town of Ruteng, it’s possible to see two of the highlights of Flores – the Hobbit cave and the spider web rice fields. The former is an archaeological sight where fossils were found of an ancient species of tiny humanoid. Named Homo floresiensis, the bones range from about 100,000 to 60,000 years old. On the other side of town are the amazing rice fields, known as lingko in Indonesian but more commonly called spider webs for their unique appearance.
When traveling across Flores, by far the best way to get around is with a private driver. Local buses are available and are obviously cheaper, but it’s well worth the extra money to have the flexibility of your own wheels. Plus, a local driver will know all sorts of awesome places that you’ve never heard of, such as Koka Beach. We stopped here en route from Maumere to Moni, and we only wish we could have stayed for a few days rather than a few hours.
Maumere Snorkeling Trip
From your accommodations in Maumere, it’s easy to organize a diving or snorkeling trip. The coral here has finally started to grow back after a devastating earthquake and the resulting tsunami that destroyed much of it in 1992. It’s even possible to see the very spot where the earth split on that fateful day.
Villages and Hot Springs in Bajawa
Another common stop on the journey across the island is the town of Bajawa. As with the other towns, Bajawa itself is rather underwhelming. The real reason for a stop here can be found a fair distance outside of town. A short drive will take you to fascinating villages, yet another hike-able volcano, and relaxing hot springs.
Sunrise at Mt. Kelimutu
An image worthy of a Lonely Planet cover is sunrise at Mt. Kelimutu. Stay in the little village of Moni so it’s an easy trip before the crack of dawn. Unlike the aforementioned hike up Egon, this one can barely be called a hike at all. It’s a rather easy stroll up a nice staircase to the viewing platform where you can watch the sun come up over the three colored lakes. Be sure to have your batteries charged, because this is a photo opp you don’t want to miss.
Komodo National Park Boat Trip
Without a doubt, the top highlight of a visit to Flores is taking a boat trip to see the Komodo dragons. There’s much more to this trip than just giant, extremely dangerous lizards. With just a couple of days, you can snorkel on Kanawa Island, swim with manta rays, and chill on the postcard-worthy Pink Beach. You can visit Komodo Village and catch the amazing sight of flying foxes at sunset. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget about said giant lizards. Get your zoom lens on so you can keep a safe distance, and catch a glimpse of the world’s largest lizard.
With just two weeks, it’s possible to experience all of these highlights of traveling in Flores. I don’t know about you, but that’s a pretty perfect holiday for me. Relax on beautiful beaches, climb active volcanoes, experience traditional villages and their culture, take in breathtaking landscapes, and see real life dragons. A trip across Flores is an adventure you’ll never forget, and you can always go party in Bali next time.
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