Ikat seller, Sikka

Flores, Indonesia

 

FBI – Flores Bumpy Island.

 

The map can be deceiving. You stare at it and convince yourself that your road trip is only 140km’s and feasible in 4/5 hrs. The reality though, on the beautiful island of Flores is different. You are going nowhere fast. The Trans-Flores highway connects Larantuka in the east to Labuan Bajo in the west and while its the main road on the island, its still island style. The contours that may not be present on your map, certainly will be when you get going. The vista’s though……., well they are stunning and the smiles of the locals, never-ending.

After a short flight from Bali, we touched down in Maumere in the Eastern part of the island. The difference to Bali was immediate. The airport reminded us of the Corn islands, Nicaragua. Small, hot and very much  ‘downtown’. It did though have a bag carousel! which is a bonus.

The accommodation on the island though is not cheap and you won’t find the range of comforts found in other parts of Indonesia, however what you will get is stunning scenery and sunsets that last forever. Our first stop, Ankermi dive, Maumere had these on tap. The first couple of nights we had these sunsets to ourselves, in what felt like our own private villa. It wasn’t. There just wasn’t anybody else staying there. Did we say it was different to Bali???

 

'A little kiss' on the pier, Maumere
‘A little kiss’ on the pier, Maumere
Betty, just checking the surf!
Betty, just checking the surf!

 

We did have some friends soon though. A Czech couple arrived, who we travelled with for a couple of days. After a year on the road everyday together, travelling with other people is something we enjoy and it gives Betty a chance to pick up some new words to add to her ever expanding vocabulary. Did we tell you that this child does not stop talking?

After 6hrs on these bumpy roads, we arrived in Moni. Nestled up in the volcanic hills, there’s a chill in the air compared to further east. The main draw here, are the magnificently moody volcanic lakes of Kelimutu.

Sunrise was the time to visit, so we got up early hit the trail and pressed on to the top through ever increasing cloud and rain. After a couple of hours hoping, sense prevailed and our freezing souls trudged back to the cafe for some very welcome hot tea. Nay and Betty, still snuggled up in bed, had made the call the previous night not to go……..It was a great call.

It wasn’t all bad though, 2 hrs later all was clear and Kelimutu showed us its best. Three volcanic lakes painted a mixture of blues and greens Dulux would be proud of.

 

Kelimutu volcano, Moni
Kelimutu volcano, Moni
Traditional Ngada village near Bajawa
Traditional Ngada village near Bajawa

 

We’d decided to stay with our Czech friends for another day. The options were to stay in Moni and use public buses to slowly make our way West across the country, or stay with their hired driver all the way to Bajawa. This was an 8hr drive with limited stops, however far more comfortable than the bus option. Bajawa it was and what a good decision it turned out to be.

Bajawa itself is nothing to write home about. We though, were staying at Manulalu BnB. A Beautiful lodge set high above the Ngada villages with terrific views to Gunung Inerie, which looms magnificently over the whole area. Throw in some fantastic hot springs and you have more than enough to keep you occupied for a few days.

This though was to be our last stop on the Trans-Flores highway. It turned out Bajawa had an airport. So flight number 37 was booked and the goodbyes said to our friends from Ostrava. A few nights of rest at Manulalu followed and how welcome it was.

 

Go on, give us a smile. Luba village, Bajawa
Go on, give us a smile. Luba village, Bajawa
Sun, swimming pool......Hang on a minute!
Sun, swimming pool…….Hang on a minute!

 

Labuan Bajo. This for some people is the only part of Flores island they see. Its a scruffy, ramshackle port town which, were it not for Komodo National Park out in the distant Flores sea, would be sparsely visited by tourists.

Komodo NP on the other hand, is an underwater dream. The diving and snorkelling found around these parts, are said to be some of the best in Indonesia, if not the world. The two days we spent on a boat exploring the reefs and islands gave us some of the most memorable times of the trip. To be so close to so many Manta Rays as they drifted past in search for their food, was incredible. We even had a moment with just the two of us (Betty was with the boat crew, happily singing local songs with the crew), when we came across a Manta cleaning station. A lone ray getting cleaned up on the coral bed was such a great sight. However when a lonesome turtle swam in at the exact time the Manta turned around, it produced a beautiful moment as both creatures appeared to kiss as they made to their way to the surface. This is a pretty special place indeed.

 

Like much of the world, Flores is changing and changing quickly. The anticipated growth in tourist numbers is there for all to see. In Labuan Bajo, the gateway to Komodo National Park, there is a brand spanking new airport and villas are popping up left right and centre. However if you are putting together an itinerary for a trip around Indonesia, then you could do worse than venture out to these parts. Yes it will be slow, but there’s nothing wrong with that, so long as you have the time. Finally, a visit to Komodo National Park should be a must. The diversity of the wildlife here is astonishing.

We heard that the snorkelling in Papua is even more incredible, but hey they don’t have dragons!

Terima Kasih.

 

Oooooh those glassy waters. Flores sea, Komodo
Oooooh those glassy waters. Flores sea, Komodo
The end to a fantastic day. Komodo National Park
The end to a fantastic day. Komodo National Park

 

Likes:

  • Komodo dragons – We saw a couple of big ones and they can get big.
  • Jimmy from Manulalu Inn – Top bloke, thank you!!
  • Flores XP – Our 2 day trip with them was a splurge, but was worth every penny.
  • The smiles of the locals – Never-ending from East to West.
  • Sunsets – Watching the sun go down with thousands of flying foxes overhead, was beautiful.
  • Snorkelling – Komodo National Park is an underwater paradise.
  • The ‘Ngada’ villages around Bajawa.

 

Phrases:

  • Jimmy……!!!
  • Betty its Chilli sauce, NOT tomato ketchup (We have to now pretend that any kind of sauce is chilli, as they send Betty mad)
  • How expensive is Flores!!?? (Compared to Bali)
  • How old are you? (Anyone) – I’m 2 and 3/4! (Betty)
  • Can you imagine this journey on the bus???
  • Daddy can i paint you nails? (Betty) – Only the big toes! (Steve)
  • Why did we not buy a GoPro????

 

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