Start early in the
hope to avoid the clouds due to altitude. Ascend the winding road from Moni
before dawn, then climb for half an hour on a rocky path. As the first rays
lighten the horizon, an unearthly sight materializes through the gloom: in three
volcanic craters below are lakes of brilliant turquoise, olive green, and inky
black. The rising sun makes them shimmer and glow like pots of dazzling paint.
No one knows what causes the vibrant colours. The vertical sides of the craters
make it impossible to reach the lakes but add to the dramatic scenery. Weirder
still, the color scheme changes over time. Postcards in dusty shops show the
lakes ruby red, black, and milky white which they were previously. By mid-morning,
the clouds have closed in, and it's time to head back down the mountain. Kelimutu
national park is 1690 meters above sea level.
Hot Springs and Morondao Waterfall, near Kelimutu
On the way back
from Kelimutu you can relax in the steaming ponds only a 2
minute walk down from the road. The hot springs are busy on a Friday afternoon
which is the locals wash day - from majestic grandmothers bathing in their sarongs
to blue-jeaned kids having raucous water fights. Men have the top bath, women
bathe in the lower spring. Other times you are unlikely to see anyone except
a wild pig or farmer. There is also a waterfall with easy access nearby which
is worth the walk over the decaying swing bridges. A great place for some peace
Visit the village
of Sikka to see Ikat weavings about 40 minutes by road and see more incredible
hillside scenery on route. The whole island is famed for its gorgeous textiles,
with sinuous patterns tie-dyed into the threads before they're woven. Along
every roadside, you'll see women working away at their backstrap looms under
a shady tree. But the highest-quality weavings (and the most charming salesladies)
are in Sikka, just 1 hour from Moni. Villagers will surround you with a wall
of weavings, smiling and murmuring their sales pitches. A magnificent sarong,
two months in the making, was US$20 (Rp.195,000).
Diving, Snorkelling, Caves, Beaches
The Bali Sea, Flores Sea,
Banda Sea and Sulawesi Sea (Celebes Sea) offer some of the best diving
opportunities in this expansive underwater wonderland. There are Padi dive operators
in Labuanbajo for day trips or livaboards. Visit Gua
Batu Cermin (Mirror Cave) to see beautiful crystal formations, stalactites,
fossils and bats.
is only 2-3 hours by boat from Labuanbajo where you will see an amazing variety
of wildlife in this less touristed National Park including Komodo Dragon which
grow to 2 meters in length and are unique to the area. Ruing
is also a protected National Park which offers snorkelling, a bat island spectacular
and some excellent coral reef diving further abroad.
Beach is lined with pastel blue, green, and pink stones. You'll see
people sitting solitary along the shore, intently piling up stones. This cottage
industry of enterprising locals sort the stones for export as far away as Japan.