Extraordinary Flores. Yes. Flores does have inexplicable surroundings that can mesmerize us with its nature and especial culture as well.
Extraordinary Flores Trip
Extraordinary Flores Trip
PLACES THAT MUST BE VISITED!
WAE REBO Extraordinary Flores
Awarded by UNESCO World Heritage Site’s status in 2012, Wae Rebo Village is located in Manggarai Regency and situated 1.200m above sea level. Challenge yourself with a trek along Wae Rebo’s trails set in lush coffee and vanilla plantations surrounded by unspoilt rainforest, and densely populated by endemic birds and exotic flora. The residents of Wae Rebo Village lead a friendly agrarian lifestyle in harmony with nature. Wae Rebo is famous for its cone shaped houses known as Mbaru Niang.
BIDADARI ISLAND Extraordinary Flores
Komodo National Park
Bidadari (Angel) Island is a tiny, charming island, located in the northwest of Labuan Bajo. This island is a heaven for water lovers and its excellent white-sand beaches seem to have come from paradise, while its crystal clear and calm waters make it an ideal area for swimming, snorkeling, and especially learning how to dive. Bidadari Island is reachable on 15-20 minutes boat trip, comprises 14-15 hectares of land covered with hills and trees, and it is completely surrounded by beautiful beaches.
TODO VILLAGE Extraordinary Flores
The village of Todo in south-central Manggarai offers one of the few opportunities to see the traditional ceremonial houses of Flores. Long ago, it used to be the centre of the Manggaraian kingdom and the home of the royal clan.
BATU CERMIN CAVE Extraordinary Flores
Batu Cermin cave is set within an impressive and notable rock formation near Labuan bajo. Through a hole in the cave, rays of light find their way into the cave’s inside walls where they perform a spectacular show of reflected sunlight. If you want to experience this visual delight in all its beauty, make sure to be there at the right time: depending on the time of year, the sunrays only hit the hole between 9 and 10 am.
LINGKO SPIDER WEB RICE FIELD Extraordinary Flores
Lingko refers to the spider web shaped rice fields which are found in numerous places in Manggarai. It is a traditional Manggaraian system of land possession where -depending on the family’s size- the family head divides land based on the distance between his fingers. Until today, it is still being run in Flores. The distribution starts from the center pole (lodok) from which lines are drawn to the outer circle of the lingko, forming pie segments locally known as moso (meaning ‘hand’). And the loveliest one is the lingko of Cara Village in Cancar, around 17 km west of Ruteng.
KELIMUTU NATIONAL PARK Extraordinary Flores Trip
Kelimutu National Park, the icon of Eastern Flores natural heritage, offers adventurous trekking trails. Everyday, travelers are gathering excitedly to witness the sacred tri-colored crater lakes. And they will also experience Florenese village’s life as in the park’s rainforest. Thus can also broaden their minds about living abroad in a foreign country.
BENA (NGADA) Extraordinary Flores
Bena is a traditional community located about 16 km from Ngada’s capital city, Bajawa. It is the most visited village in the district and is famous for its impressive stone formations, ancestral shrines, Ngadanese-style houses, and mainly its traditional way of living. The village takes the shape of a rectangle and comprises 18 traditional houses in a clan system. Bena people have agreed to carry on their living’s way; including preserving their ikat waving technique. Indeed Bena is living on museum due to their traditions in their daily life. Take the trekking route from Bena to neighboring villages and end the exploration at Malanage Hot spring.
PLACES TO GO
Flores Timur (East Flores)
LEWOTOBI VOLCANO Extraordinary Flores
Lewotobi Volcano at the eastern end of Flores island is one of the most frequently active volcanoes in the region. It has two peaks arranged on a NW-SE line separated by 2 km and a 1232 meters high saddle. This gives the twin volcano its name Lewotobi “husband and wife” (also spelled Lewotobi).
LEWOKLUOK Extraordinary Flores
Not only Lewokluok (about 26 km from Larantuka) does offer beautiful countryside panoramas, but it is also a traditional village renowned for its rare hand-woven ikat. Unlike the other locals, its villagers combine the cotton threads with shells, skillfully interweave them to form stunning ikat patterns. These textiles are true masterpieces. You can also learn about their natural yarn dyeing process here. While in Flores Timur, see also Kawaliwu, a village known for its traditional house-korke-that still preserves its authenticity to this day.
WATUBLAPI (SIKKA) Extraordinary Flores
Watu village is located about 13 km from Maumere. It is well known for its fine traditional ikat weaving. Whereas many other local weaving communities have switched to industrially spun yarn and chemical dyes for the purpose of saving time and money, the weavers of Watublapi still use the traditional, hand spun yarn made from local-grown local cotton, as well as local natural dyes. Visitors with a profound interest in ikat weaving could join the ikat workshop in Watublapi. The Bliran Sina weavers will teach you the skills of this fascinating handmade craft (by appointment).
RIUNG 17 ISLANDS (NGADA) Extraordinary Flores
The sub-district of Riung -located in the north of Bajawa- is being praised for its beautiful coral gardens. The coast and the area surrounding the town of Riung have become a national conservation area, and are even given the status of a national park and named PuLau Tujuh Belas, or ‘Seventeen Islands’, In fact, the national park consists of more than 20 small and larger islands. Even though, the local people have named the area ‘Riung Seventeen Islands’. Pretty easy to remember the name as it refers to the personification of a beautiful 17-year-old girl and also Indonesian Independence Day on the 17th of August.
GURUSINA VILLAGE (NGADA) Extraordinary Flores
Gurusina is another village where you can get enchanted with all the wealth of Ngada’s culture. Gurusina’s traditional houses are situated around a wide courtyard, which displays several set of ture lenggi, the ancestral stone altar. The village was founded in about 1934 by people coming from the highlands. A visit to Gurusina can also be combined with a nicely moderate hike starting from Bena to Tololela village.
RANAMESE CRATER LAKE (Manggarai Timur / East Manggarai) Extraordinary Flores
Having the meaning of ‘big lake’ in the vernacular (native language), Ranamese is a 11.5 hectares crater located on 1.200 m above sea level. The surrounding rainforest creates a refreshing breeze and is a greatplace for trekking, bird watching and every guest is to be advised to wear proper shoes for trekking around the lake.
LIANG BUA CAVE (Manggarai) Extraordinary Flores
While visiting Flores, why not go to the caves? We can find the remaining ‘The Flores Hobbit’ there. Homo Floresiensis – nicknamed ‘The Hobbit’, co-existed with our species until 12,0 years ago. Liang Bua is about 13 km from Ruteng and the drive takes less than 40 minutes.
CULTURE & HERITAGE
WAJO (Nagekeo) Extraordinary Flores
Very well-maintained traditional houses and menhirs are the attraction in the highland village of Wajo. Easily reached from Raja (Boawae) or Nangaroro, this village has unique traditional bamboo musical instruments, which are used during traditionalceremonies and on other special occasions. A visit to Wajo will give you more insight on the local people of Nagekeo.
TUTUBHADA VILLAGE Extraordinary Flores
Having never been in the tourism map of Flores, Tutubhada is known only by a small number of local visitors. Located in Rendu – a village in Aesesa Selatan Sub-District, the less – traveled village is home to Nagekeo’s traditional ritual house called Sa’o Ji Vao. Tutubhada’s stilt houses have a unique shaped roof.
WOLOTOPO (Ende) Extraordinary Flores
Let’s put our sight on a hill about 12 km from Ende. Wolotopo’s centuries – old traditional Lio houses silently reveal an ancient history through delicate patterns that are engraved on many parts of their structures. They also reflect the unique Lio’s ethnical way of life which will fascinate any admirer of art and architecture as well.
CUNCA RAMI (Manggarai Barat / West Manggarai) Extraordinary Flores
Green, exotic vegetation among mountains creates an appealing backdrop for the trek to Cunca Rami, a waterfall with an emerald water basin located about 47 km from Labuan Bajo in the direction of Werang. Combined with plenty of plantations that produce holticultural crops, the trek to Cunca Rami Waterfall is truly giving pleasure as if it is an ideal trip for every man that loves nature.
KOKA BEACH (Sikka) Extraordinary Flores
The long and wide white sand beach is the perfect place on the south coast of the Sikka district to relax, have a picnic, and go for a swim. Koka beach is situated about 2.5 km from the main road near Wolowiro village in the Paga sub-district. It takes about 48 km ride from Maumere and 35 km from Wolowaru.
SOLOR & ADONARA (Flores Timur / East Flores) Extraordinary Flores
Solor and Adonara are reachable by boat from Larantuka in the East Flores. There, the coastline is a hidden paradise with white sand beaches at Ritaebang and Riangsungai in Solor, Watotena/Ina Burak beach and also Mekobani Island in Adonara.
AQUAMARINE WATER PARADISE
Sailing on Phinisi Boat (Komodo National Park) Extraordinary Flores
Indonesia’s Komodo Island is known for its ancient giant lizards and the untouched wilderness, but a luxury Phinisi voyage has introduced the most exciting way to enjoy the sapphire blue waters surround Komodo and its neighbouring islands. Built by the country’s most legendary shipbuilders on the island of Sulawesi, these Phinisi boats combine luxurious sailing with smooth cruising and complete hotel facilities aboard.
KAYAKING (Manggarai Barat / West Manggarai) Extraordinary Flores
Visiting the Komodo Islands and the Komodo Dragons by sea Kayak is an awesome experience. The west part of Flores offers great conditions for kayaking. One of the spots is around Labuan Bajo and the other is around Komodo National Park where you may have the chance to paddle with majestic Manta Rays, or even be overtaken by a lot of leaping dolphins. With a little more luck, you may even fin a dugong lifting its big nose out of the water.
SNORKELING (Sikka & Ngada)
Maumere Bay (East Flores) and Riung 17 islands (west Flores) are other areas that offer a uniquely diverse marine environment, with the additional advantage that they are still little visited. Bear in mind though that on most of the islands, it is not possible to rent snorkeling gear. The best option is to rent it beforehand for an extended period in Labuan Bajo or bring your own gear.
HIKING IN MOUNT EGON (Sikka) Extraordinary Flores
Beyond Kelimutu, there are atually more than twelve volcanoes throughout Flores that are suitable for trekking with mount Egon being one of them. Sitting astride the narrow waist of Flores Timur, Mount Egon’s summit reveals a crater 350 m wide and 200 m deep.
TIWU SORA LAKE (Ende) Extraordinary Flores
If you want to experience Lio culture and nature in a remote area, where you will be among the first visitors to leave you footprints, an exploration to Tiwu Sora Lake and an overnight stay in Deturia village will become an unforgettable journey. For the local Lio people, Tiwu Sora ( tiwu means ‘lake’ in Lio Language) is a sacred place with its own legend. The small lake is home to a species of giant eel.
HORSEBACK RIDING IN MBALATA BEACH (Manggarai Timur / East Manggarai) Extraordinary Flores
Mbalata Beach is in Kotakomba sub-district in East-Manggarai, about 42 km east of Borong, nicely framed by Mount Inerie to the east and by soft, hilly landscapes to the west. You can go for an easy hike or on horseback riding along the wide, grey-sand coast to the grazing land of Nangarawa Hill where you will be able to catch a beautiful view over the sea and the surrounding farmland.
COMMUNITY BASED TOURISM
TADO VILLAGE, MANGGARAI BARAT Extraordinary Flores
Located 45 km on the east of Labuan Bajo, Tado village is one of the best places to get a hands – on experience of the long-standing Manggaraian way of life. Rather inconspicuous at first sight, it reveals an immense cultural and traditional wealth. The villagers, wering their traditional costumes, will be happy to receive you with a traditional welcome ceremony. Tado is practicing community – based ecotourism. Still, this ecotourism village also offers special-request tours that are an integral part of the village’s cultural conservation programme.
WATURAKA VILLAGE (Kelimutu National Park) Extraordinary Flores
Waturaka, in a corner of the Flores countryside, is a homely farming village located at the foot of Kelimutu mount. This small village has been developed properly, so no wonder it’s ready to welcome visitors coming to experience Moni and its surrounding areas. Simple yet clean homestays are available in Waturaka. Here, you can enjoy the totally unique experience of living with local family and tasting local dishes prepared with fresh ingrediets from the garden. Located nearby are two trekking trails heading to two amazing attractions, i.e Murukeba Waterfall and Mutulo’o hot steam. Literally, Waturaka offers more than just homestays.
What Should You Know about Diving in Currents?
Komodo National Park is just as famous for its currents as it is the dragons that roam topside. It’s thought to be home to some of the most challenging recreation diving in the world. Here are some DOs and DON’Ts for diving in currents:
- Do be aware that diving in Komodo National Park is for everyone and sites can be dived in many ways to accommodate all levels of experience.
- Do communicate with your dive guide both on the surface and underwater. Because they need know if you are uncomfortable or have a problem.
- Do relax to maintain a regular breathing pattern
- Then, Do swim close to the bottom or reef to reduce the strength of the current
- Still, Do listen to the dive briefing and don’t be afraid to ask questions
- Rather, Do practice good buoyancy control and finning techniques. Courses are available to help you improve that.
- Don’t fin like crazy against a current. Take a break before you exhaust yourself.
- Don’t stray too far from your buddy or guide in strong current. Risk of separation and other problems can increase.
- Don’t choose your dive operator based on price alone. Safety and experience should be the main priority when choosing an operator.
- Don’t forget the most amazing marine life can be seen in current, such as Manta! Relax and enjoy the show.
Diving Around Maumere, Sikka
The bay of Maumere used to be among the world’s most interesting dive spots. Even the renowned World Champinship of underwater Photography was held there, until a massive earthquake followed by a tsunami hit the area in 1992. In the meantime, the surrounding reef has recovered quite well from the damage and offers excellent diving in mild currents again, with a healthy population of gorgonias and sponges, big groupers lurking in crevices, antias, and butterfly fish. Swarms of tuna and carangids patrol the big blue dephts in seek of their prey. The charm of Maumere bay for divers surely lies in the details: In a single day, you can do excellent muck dives for rarities, wall, drift, as well as wreck dives. In total there are about 30 dive sites in Maumere Bay, including the spots around the Pemana Island chain.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
AUGUST: CACI Extraordinary Flores
Caci or Larik is a martial art found in most of Manggarai area. Caci combines dancing, singing and special technical skills in attacking the opponent artfully. There are two players: the attacker using whip made of buffalo hide, while the opponent challenge the attacker by protecting himself with a round shaped –shield made of buffalo leather and a bent bamboo stick made from several thin bamboos tied together. The two players will hit each other by turn with the body of opponent as the main target. There is no champion in caci, and to keep the brother hood, one of the rules in caci is that the close relatives are not allowed to participate in the fight. It is also believed that the blood drops caused by the whip is a sign of fertility of the soil that will bring good harvest in the coming season.
Caci is performed at any time of the year in Ruteng. It is also performed to celebrate happy cultural occasions such as Penti (thanksgiving or traditional new year, celebrated after harvest towards a new planting season, Congko Lokap (inaguration of traditional house), and in recent years it is widely performed during the celebration of Indonesia Independence Day, 17 August. In other areas, Caci is performed sesonally such as in Riung in September to December. You can see Caci performed upon request in Melo or Cecer Village (approximately 20 km east of Labuan Bajo), or in Tado (45 km east of Labuan Bajo).
NOVEMBER: PENTI Extraordinary Flores
For the people of Manggarai and especially Wae Rebo, Penti is a ceremony of gratitude, familial occasion, and nature conservation. Penti is the traditional New Year that also signals the start of farming activities for new season. This activity is a hereditary obligation that must be executed as they want to express their gratitude for having a large family gathering among the community of Wae Rebo and the blessing to the preservation of the environment as well. The community members of WaeRebo usually hold penti in November around 15 and 16th.
The above events may or may not be held regularly every year. Unfortunately, there is no fixed schedule becuse timing usually relies on internal consensus among community members from one tribe to another. Some events may be conducted in the same months yearly, without specific dates. Thus, it is strongly recommended to always check the correct dates in advance with your travel agent or tourist information centre near you.
PLACES TO VISIT IN MAUMERE
WATUBLAPI, SIKKA (Culture) Extraordinary Flores
This is the venue for traditional weave (ikat) textile admirers. Established in 2004, the women of Watublapi village perform a demo on the weaving’s processing, from spinning the yarn to coloring that only uses natural dyes from home gardens. Short courses are available including accommodation and workshop. Take home with you the fondest memory of the long forgotten songs the men and women of Watublapi had sung in the past, and assuredly, the elegant charm of the vibrant indigo and earth colors of the weave.
KAJUWULU, SIKKA (Trekking & Relaxing) Extraordinary Flores
Situated 26 km from Maumere, this beach is another jewel in the limitless array of beautiful coasts of Maumere Bay, Sikka. With its calming waves and shallow aquamarine blue water, Kajuwulu beach is safe for a swim or family leisure dayout; or even for just strolling the bay on a canoe with the ones you love. The lush mangrove vegetation is home to coastal fauna including shrimps and fishes too. So bring along your fishing gear and enjoy the fun.
MARUSOBE, SIKKA (Trekking & Culture) Extraordinary Flores
Marusobe, in local Lio dialect, means straight plunge (which “muru” means plunge/jump/dive/leap and “sobe” means straight) like a bamboo pole. In a freefall from about 100 meters, the twin cascading waterfall of Murusobe will bring out your childhood’s nature, urging you to jump-in in glee into the refreshing cool water basin from one of its surrounding cliffs. Explore also Poma, a small village amidst rain-catcher rice fields with flowering fairy duster Calliandra shrubbery, and ush clusters of coffee, cocoa, vanilla, and candlenuts trees in the background.
WAIR NOKERUA, EAST FLORES (Pilgrim & Tracking) Extraordinary Flores
Being tracked on the course of the notable history of Catholicism in Flores, Wair Nokerua attracts both nature and religious-interest travellers flocking to Kolisia Village. The cross country trek presents not only a journey to the time of St. Francis Xavier’s pilgrimage, but also a relaxing moment with Wair Nokerua’s gentle waves by the lagoon. Time to also rejoice in the rural Florinese village living; and also adore the pleasure of sighting the lush of green rice paddy and the thrilling yet exotic flora and fauna at once.
ILE PADUNG, EAST FLORES (Culture) Extraordinary Flores
An exceptional historical landmark for East Flores, Ile Padung (30 km from the East Flores capital, Larantuka) is a sanctuary for precious and well-conserved traditional house. The houses are still in excellent shape proudly preserved by the local villagers as loving homes and the venue of many enchanting holy ceremonies. Also known as Leworahang village, Ile Padung also serves as the base for an organic cashew plantation whose harvest is mainly delivered to Wolowaru for packaging and distribution.
WATOTENA, EAST FLORES (Relaxing) Extraordinary Flores
One of the most beautiful virgin beaches Flores Timur has is Watotena in Adonara, an island in the eastern of Flores, reached by 2.5 hour-sailing from Larantuka. Watotena is well-known for its white sand beach and black magma rocks adorning the shoreline. Thus sets Watotena apart from any other coast found in Adonra or Flores mainland. The crystal clear water and the pearly sand beach are the points to visit Watotena.
MARCH – APRIL: SEMANA SANTA (LARANTUKA, EAST FLORES)
The history of Semana Santa started when Portuguese traders settled in Larantuka briefly before 1600. After the Dutch East India Company gained control over the spice island trade, the Portuguese in Larantuka focused at the trade of Sandalwood from Timor. In 1520 they established a trading post and transit harbor in the village of Lamalera on the eastern side of Solor. The Portuguese population of Larantuka exploded after the Dutch conquered Malacca and Makassar. The Portuguese’s cultural influence since then remained substantial in the diocese of Larantuka in Flores Timur.
Semana Santa is an annual Easter celebration that has been flooding Catholic pilgrims from Flores and all over Indonesia to Larantuka every Aprils. In the occasion, the statue of Tuan Ma (Maria), Tuan Ana (Jesus) and Meninho (baby Jesus) lead the procession started from the katedral Reinha Rosary. The parade draws a huge number of mass who makes stops in a number of points where scenes of the history of Jesus is theatrically performed as a commemoration in the event, until the parade ends in the same cathedral again. The procession done in 2010 marked the 5th century of Catholic existence in Flores island. The long and winding road to Larantuka failed to discourage no less than 15.000 pilgrims-local and foreign-flocking in the little town that week.
FEBRUARY – JULY: GREN MAHE (Sikka)
Ai is the one of the largest tribes in the Sikka. This community lives mainly in areas from Talibura sub-district until the border between Sikka and Flores Timur. The Tana Ai has many unique traditional culture and sacred rituals, with Gren Mahe being one of them. Gren means celebration, Mahe means altar or a place for offering. The Mahe of Tana Ai bears similar look to other tribes consisting of menhirs erected in a circle on the ground.
Gren Mahe is a ritual found among Tana Ai community to show respect and gratitude to Mother earth (Inna Nian Tana), and Father Sky (Ama Lero Wulan Reta). In Kringa, Gren Mahe is celebrated every five years, while others conduct it once a year, once every seven years or even every twenty years, depending on its urgency and their economic situation.
The village leaders of Tana Ai -called Littin Pitu Lera Walu, who with a permission are granted by Du’a Mo’an Watu Pitu (the holy ancestors)- lead the villagers in making important decision for Gren Mahe. Gren Mahe is usually initiated by Tana Pu’an (one of the village leaders or landlords) who will invite all Litin Pitu Lera Walu members, consisting of Marang (the commander of Gren Mahe), Ekak (the person in charge of giving offerings to the ancestors, Hurit (in charge of sacrifice ritual of animals), Lire Wu’a Boga Ta’a (in charge of “sirih pinang” or betel nut ceremony), Litin (the indigenous traditional leader), Puku Nulu Bano Wa’a (in charge of directing).
They will gather and discuss the schedule (usually done during rainy season or before the planting season) and how Gren Mahe will be organized. It is so important that its preparation usually starts almost a year before the actual date.
PLACES TO VISIT in Ende
THE EXILE HOUSE OF SOEKARNO (Ende Historical) Extraordinary Flores
Mr. Soekarno – the world famous Indonesian founding father-was exiled to Ende by the Dutch administration in 1934-1938. Mr.Soekarno is a thinker, artist and of course politician.
The idea of Pancasila – the five principles of Indonesian philosophy – flowingly came into his mind when he spent his spare time under the breadfruit tree in Ende. The exile house is now considered as historical site and protected under the national law.
KELIMUTU NATIONAL PARK, ENDE (TREKKING & NATURE) Extraordinary Flores
The eastern Flores natural heritage icon, Kelimutu National Park, and its surrounding areas boast countless of bewildering nature beauty and adventurous trekking trails along its off-beaten tracks. Travelers flocking to witness the sacred tri-colored crater lakes, may also encounter Florinese village living as part of the cross country experience in the park’s rainforest. Put on your walking shoes and get ready to explore the traditional village of Pemo and Wh of Woloara with Murundao waterfall in Moni, or unwind in the warm bath of Kolorongo and Waturaka Natural Hotspring.
WOLOTOPO (Ende’s Culture and Traditional Village) Extraordinary Flores
Situated on a hill, 12 km from Ende to Wolowona market then to the South coast of Wolotopo Timur village, Wolotopo resides long-preserved traditional Lio homes silently telling the ancient history through their dlicate patterns engraved on many parts of the houses. They also reflect the unique Lion values of living that may tantalize art and architecture-aficionados. Wolotopo attracts many visitors with its captivating agricultural village life scenes as well as ikat weaing in almost every corner of the countryside.
NDONA (Ende’s Culture and Traditional Village) Extraordinary Flores
Try adoring the beauty of traditional Florinese Ikat textile, in Bou sama sama Ikat weaving studio (13km from Ende). You may not only admire the exquisite patterns and colors of ikat; but even take course in creating one.
Members of Bou sama sama will share you the secret of making organic natural dyes and show you the intricate cotton ikat weaving. While you are here, take time to also enjoy the fascinating traditional village living of Onelako village, Ndona sub District.
WATURAKA, MONI (Trekking, Traditional Village, Relaxing) Extraordinary Flores
Among the hot springs in Kelmutu National Park, Waturaka is one which still has its natural charm. Located in the middle of candlenut fields, this is a place to relax after short soft trekking and the hot shower flowing from a bamboo pipe is a real treat. Bring you book, spread out your mat and enjoy the rest of the day in a peaceful atmosphere.
WATURAKA, MONI (Trekking, Traditional Village, Culture)
Up in the highest hill of Deturia village is Tiwu Sora Lake. With intact dense rainforest surrounding it, the crystal clear lake is sacred to the locals who believe it as the resting home to the dead and holy ancestors. A solemn ritual is especially performed during certain period when remarkable gianteels can be seen wimming in the cool open water. Tiwu sora trekking trails start from Pise village offering a mix of extraordinary sceneries of herds of wild horses on the savannah, rainforest, bird watching and community –based tourism.
Flores will entangle you with its impressive landscape and unique cultural features. Be aware though that the roads are often steep, curvy, and in a mediocre condition you will rarely go faster than 30 km/hr. Thus, travelling in Flores requires some patience and some time to adjust. The so-called Trans Flores ‘highway’ is the main road that connects Flores from west to east. Starting from Labuan Bajo and ending in Larantuka, this 700 km long road twists and rolls across the island, leads you to waterfalls, crosses mountains and passes traditional villages. In addition, the island’s pace of life is generally slower than your usual rhythm. Thus, travelling in Flores requires some patience and some time to adjust.
BIKE AND CAR RENTAL
Hiring a car with an experienced driver is an alternative to public transport. Most of the cars are privately owned, and no car is rented for self-driving. A motorbike is a good option for travelling around Flores as well, since some of the remote areas can only be reached by this transport. However, longer distance is for experienced drivers only as the road is sometimes in terrible condition. Motorbikes can be rented in the district capitals. Do not forget to bring an international driving license with you to rent a car or motorbike.
Within the district capitals and larger towns, it is pretty easy and cheap to cover short distance by hopping on and off bemo (minibuses). The ojek, a motorbike taxi is another option for shorter distances. Price is negotiable. For longer distance, you may choose to ride on one of the many buses and trucks that bring their passengers from one town to another. It is advisable to reserve a seat in advance at a local travel agent. They mostly depart and arrive via public bus station. Exact time schedule is not available, and buses will only depart once all seats are occupied.
In Flores, only Indonesian rupiah (IDR) is accepted for cash payments. In general, the payment in Flores is cash-based. There are ATMs in the district capital which – depending on the bank-accept major credit cards (Visa/Mastercard) where you can get cash. The ATMs of BNI (National Bank of Indonesia) are the most reliable ones. You also have the option of changing your money at local money changers. Be sure to check their exchange rates and fees before the transaction. Traveler’s checks are rather difficult to change.
The hustle and bustle of Florinese markets will bring you closer to an important part of Florinese daily life. Not only will you see a range of familiar or unknown local products, you may also witness a barter transaction, which used to be the traditional way of doing business in Flores. Of all Florinese products, ikat cloth which is sold in locally different forms, colors, and styles, is definitely the most meaningful, valuable and unique souvenir. Florinese ikat is mostly hand woven, and some of the clothes are made out of all-natural local ingrediets. Traditional Florinese coffee is another typical island product that you should not miss.
DOS AND DONTS
For female travelers, it is highly advisable to dress rather conservatively – a shirt covering the shoulders and a lower bodygarment to the knees – especially when visiting villages and cultural objects. Unless you are on a dive boator on the beach or islands frequently visited by tourists, you should wear more han just a bikini to swim. Please also consider that it is inappropriate for men and women to change clothes in the same place.
Smile a lot!
Probably the most important thing is the smile. Arrogant visitors who do not respond to smiles or greetings will find it hard to get close to the local people.
Reduce the use of your left hand!
Use your right hand for bringing food to your mouths as well as to pass on an receive things. The left hand, being used to wash after going to the bathroom, is considered to be dirty. Try to avoid passing food, money, shaking hands or touching people with your left hand as it will be considered offensive. Avoid touching men, women or even children’s head as well as this is considered offensive.
CYCLING IN FLORES
Flores has absolutely great potential for touring around on various roads using bicycles. Pedalling across idyllic villages, passing rice fields, lakes and forests and enjoying a nice picnic at a spot of your choice is just a wonderful experience you can have while on the island.
Cycling in Flores is an adventure fitting for small groups and individualists and is best done by bringing your own, well maintained, bicycle from home country. Alternatively, rent a bike in Bali and transport it free of extra charges with Garuda Indonesia Airways either to Labuan Bajo or Ende and back. A classical mountain bike with medium broadtyres fits most of Flores’ road conditions. Bring a helmet, gloves and lights as well as air pump, good chain oil and an all-purpose toolset with you.