Hiking Mt. Kelimutu Posted by sasha on Jun 2, 2016 in Uncategorized
After exploring Maumere, where we relaxed at a secluded resort, went on an epic snorkeling trip, and hiked up an active volcano, our journey across Flores continued. Next up was one of the most famous sights on the island – sunrise over the three colored lakes of Mt. Kelimutu.
Hire a Driver
While it’s entirely possible to traverse the entire island of Flores by public bus, they tend to be slow and extremely overcrowded. Plus, you don’t have the chance to stop and enjoy any of the incredible scenery along the way. As such, it’s highly recommended to enlist the services of a private driver. For about 600,000 Rupiah (around $45) per day, it’s well worth it for the freedom and comfort this allows you. We met our awesome driver Angi in Maumere, and while we only planned to hire him for the first few days of our trip, we ended up having him drive us across the entire island.
Sikka and Koka Beach
Most of the people on Flores are Catholic – a result of the former colonization of the island by Portugal. There are churches in just about every village, and you can visit a beautiful one just a 30-minute drive out of Maumere en route to Moni. The village of Sikka is home to a late 19th century wooden church that you’re free to explore – just be sure to leave a donation and sign their guest book.
Coming from Bali and its beaches full of touts and tourists, we were beyond excited to arrive at our next destination – Koka Beach. This secluded beach looks like it’s straight out of a postcard, and there’s barely ever anyone there. We laid out for a while, went for a swim, and I climbed a very sketchy makeshift ladder (for a fee, of course) to snap some shots from above. I’d say it was worth the effort.
There are a few very simple warungs on the beach, so we decided to sit down and enjoy a lunch of grilled fish and veggies, accompanied by some fresh young coconuts and cold Bintang beers. It doesn’t get much better than that!
We could have lingered all day at Koka, but our trip had to continue. If you’d like to spend more time there, we did notice a couple of guesthouses a little up the road from the beach.
A few hours later, and we arrived in the town of Moni. If not for nearby Mt. Kelimutu, there would be absolutely no reason to stop in this sleepy little village. Thanks to the mountain and its popularity, however, a small tourism scene has developed here. There are a handful of guesthouses and restaurants in town, and just about everyone there can and will help you visit the mountain.
Arriving later in the afternoon, we took a stroll around town to stretch our legs a bit. We enjoyed the views of the village from above, and laughed at the local kids goofing around climbing up lampposts. Whereas kids back at home spend most of their waking hours staring at a screen, kids out here need to find another way to entertain themselves.
In the evening, we headed to one of the handful of restaurants in town for dinner. It was already a few weeks past Christmas, but we still enjoyed their homemade Christmas tree made out of empty Bintang bottles. Some local guys were having a little jam session up the road, so we joined the fun and grabbed a few beers.
Unlike our hike up Mt. Egon – which was extremely rugged and difficult – visiting Mt. Kelimutu can hardly be considered a hike at all. You’re driven up the hill to start, and then there’s a nice staircase that takes you to a clear path. All in all, it only takes about 30 minutes from the parking lot to the viewpoint. Considering the ungodly hour that you have to head up there to take in the sunrise, this was very welcome.
Mt. Kelimutu is famous for its three colored lakes. Locals believe the lakes are the resting place for departed souls. The westernmost lake is called Tiwu Ata Mbupu, meaning “Lake of Old People,” while the middle one is called Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai, or “Lake of Young Men and Maidens.” Finally, the easternmost is called Tiwu Ata Polo, the “Lake for Evil Spirits.” Adding to the mystique of the lakes is the fact that they all seem to change color whimsically. Legend has it that the colors change due to neglected souls, while the scientific community believes its more to do with the volcanic gases mixing with the minerals in the lakes. You can choose to believe whichever side of the story you like.
As we were visiting in the rainy season, we were worried that we’d be greeted with cloudy skies from the viewpoint and have to try a second or third day to catch the sunrise. As luck would have it, we were treated to a stunning sunrise and didn’t have to stay an extra night in Moni.
Next up on our trans-Flores trip was the lazy capital of the island – Ende.