Where to stay
So you want to go? Of course you will be looking for a place to stay. What about this: Kelimutu Crater Lakes Ecolodge, powered by solar energy and set in a valley beside a burbling river with excellent views of Kelimutu, near the village of Moni in Eastern Flores. This unique lodge , built by Meryl Wilson and Putu Febri, provides an ideal haven of peace for the trans Flores traveller. Read more here.
The ecolodge runs a number of tours but of most relevance to this article are its tripe to the crater lakes – these are a modest $18 a pop, ideal for the backpacker on a tight budget but they have more extensive multi-day propositions for those with money to burn.
There are several airports in Flores, and the main one is at Maumere, (Fransiskus Xaverius Seda Airport), IATA: MOF. There are also daily flights between Labuanbajo, IATA: LBJ and Bali (IATA: DPS), Lombok International Airport, (Bandara Internasional Lombok), (IATA: LOP) and Kupang/Timor’s El Tari Airport (IATA: KOE).
Pelni ships call at Labuanbajo, Maumere, Larantuka and Ende and link the island with other parts of Indonesia. Numerous other ships also serve Flores, including the ASDP ferry from Labuanbajo to Sape (Sumbawa) and the wooden ferries from Larantuka to the islands of Adonara and Lembata in the Solor archipelago. Check the Indonesian Pelni website but check with offices to be sure (the arrival and departure times are flexible).
A number of companies organise 4 day sailing trips between Lombok or Bali and Flores which take in Komodo and Rinca. These cost around Rp 1,3 to 1,8 million. Passengers should be aware that these trips can cross open waters and are on boats with no navigation or safety equipment other than some lifejackets (i.e. no radio, flares or life rafts).
Overland travel is a possibility as well, although it is a long haul from most places. From Mataram (Lombok), a combined ticket including all buses and ferries costs Rp 225,000. The journey takes over 24 hours and has a buffet meal included in the price on Sumbawa. To Bima (Sumbawa), the bus is ‘executive class’, while the 2 hours from Bima to Sape are done in a crammed minibus. When bought separately and travelling by local transport, the journey will probably be cheaper, but it requires several interchanges and you should consider whether it’s worth the extra time and hassle.
Buses from Bajawa (7 hr, Rp 80,000) start at 6AM. Gunung Mas runs 12-seater “Travel Bus” from Ruteng to Moni (continuing to Maumere) at 7AM and 1.30~2.PM. It takes 10 hr from Ruteng to Moni (6 hours from Bajawa) and they will pick up from hotels by prior arrangement.
From Ende there are more options. Public cars (2 hr, Rp 40,000), Toyota Kijang are the normally the most comfortable option. Bemos (Rp 20,000) and buses (Rp 30,000) also ply the route in 2.5 hr. If you’re feeling adventurous ojeks will take you there for Rp 100,000 letting you make your way in your own pace and stop for photos along the very scenic route.
From Maumere (3-4 hr) there is the same plethora of buses (Rp 30,000) and public cars (Rp 50,000), just ask at your hotel.
From Riung, the public bus to Ende (50 000) leaves at 6am and you can catch a bus to Moni from there.
Bemos, small vans with seats facing each other, operate linking all the main towns. It is an incredible way to see the island and the driving ensures it is an exhilarating ride if you don’t mind the heat, dust, and being squashed next to an old dear with a chicken. A distance that looks short on the map can still take hours in reality, so be patient and enjoy the ride.
In Moni the ubiquitous ojek is never far away. Depending on your guesthouse’s proximity to the national park, ojeks are between Rp 25,000-35,000 (1 way) for a ride up to see the sunrise at 4:30AM. It’s best to walk back since it’s a nice walk, and there’s nothing worse than having an eager ojek driver pulling at you to leave the beautiful lakes just as the light is getting perfect for that magical moment.
You can rent a motorbike at many places around town for 100 000 for the day.