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Eight days across Flores to Komodo
The three colored lakes of Kelimutu
The Liang Bua Hobbit Cave
The Komodo National Park
Flores is one of the jewels in the Lesser Sunda Islands. Measured as a straight line from the east to the west the island is 400 km (220 miles) long; at its widest point the distance from north to south is 60 km (40 miles). The total surface is 15,624 km² and Flores has 1,835,000 inhabitants. Aside from Bahasa Indonesia there are several different native languages spoken, all of them belonging to the Austronesian family, but remarkably Flores is almost entirely Roman Catholic. The indigenous population was originally converted by Portuguese traders and missionaries who first arrived in Flores as early as the 16th century. Portuguese sailors gave the easternmost point a name that stuck: the Cape of Flowers (Cabo das Flores). The Lesser Sunda Islands east of Lombok have the driest climate in Indonesia and the original vegetation of Flores is dry forest rather than the rain forest that covers the Greater Sunda Islands in the western part of Indonesia. Even though Flores is stunningly beautiful and there are many sites of natural and historical interest, it is above all the people who make this island so special. Everyday life is filled with ritual ceremonies and the superb craftsmanship one witnesses in activities like ikat weaving is living proof of a unique heritage.
Kelimutu is a volcano that contains three colored lakes, located in the district of Ende off the south coast. The lakes change colors on an irregular basis, depending on the level of oxidation in the waters, from bright red through green and blue.
Liang Bua is the name of the limestone cave where Flores Man was found, a humanlike creature less than four feet tall with brains approximately one-half to one-third of the size of homo sapiens.
The islands of Komodo and nearby Rinca are the native habitat of the unique Komodo dragon, the world's largest lizard which can grow to 3 meters long and weigh 90 kilograms. It is the single land animal from the era of the dinosaurs still surviving until today. On Komodo and Rinca they can easily be spotted in the wild.
Day one: arrival Maumere (D)
Meeting service at Frans Seda Airport of Maumere and transfer to the hotel of your choice. Maumere is the business center of the island but without any attractive sites of interest. The remainder of the day is at your leisure and Top Indonesia recommends you stay at the Sea World Club at Waiara Beach.
<http://www.sea-world-club.com/> . Dinner at the hotel.
Day two: Maumere - Moni (B,L,D)
After breakfast we check out from the hotel and start the scenic drive inland. We make a first stop at the Roman Catholic seminary of Ledalero, home to the Bikon Blewut Museum, where we find not only an extremely diverse collection of antique artifacts, weapons, pottery and portraits but stone age tools and fossil bones as well. We continue to the village of Sikka on the South coast, for a first demonstration of the ikat weaving process. We stop for lunch in the village of Wolowaru and in the course of the afternoon we reach Moni, a small settlement at the foot of the volcanic Mount Kelimutu where we check in at Moni Ecolodge, <http://www.ecolodgesindonesia.com/kelimutu/> the best available accommodation in the area. Dinner at the hotel.
Day three: Moni - Kelimutu - Bajawa (B,L,D)
After a 03:30 wakeup call we leave our base camp at 04:00 and drive for about 45 minutes to about 1 kilometer from the principal viewing site. From there it will take about half an hour to go up a flight of 127 stairs to the top. It is best to be there well before 06:00 and witness how the predawn light starts to color the eastern sky. Kelimutu is one of the world’s most spectacular sites and as the sun rises it slowly brings out the different colors of the lakes. We return to the hotel for breakfast around 08:30. At 10:00 we start the drive westward to the town of Bajawa. After a brief walk through the old port town of Ende we continue to Tanggo Beach where we stop for a picnic lunch prepared by Eco Lodge. Tanggo beach is a unique spot with volcanic stones the size of eggs spread over a stretch of more than ten kilometers. We reach Bajawa in the afternoon and check into hotel Happy Happy or Villa Silverin. http://www.hotelhappyhappy.com/ .After a couple of hours of well-deserved rest we go out for dinner at Lucas Restaurant.
Day four: Bajawa - Ruteng (B,L,D)
Bajawa is only a small town of some 15000 inhabitants but as the capital of the Ngada district, it has retained its traditional ways more than any other part of Flores. The Ngada people treasure their rich cultural heritage and although everything is covered by a veil of Christianity megalithic traditions and ancestor worship are still very much alive in these hills around the Inerie volcano. Today we visit villages where the traditions and belief systems are incorporated in the building of each and every house.
It is again advisable that we have an early breakfast and ideally we are on the road at 07:00. Our destination this morning is the village of Belaraghi, about 45km from Bajawa. The first 35km are on the main road to Aimere, a small port on the South coast. Then we take the back roads through the villages of Keligejo and Pauleni where visitors must register in the guestbook. At the end of the road in the village of Paukate we take off on a trek of an hour and a half to Belaraghi which is way off the beaten track but an easy walk through savanna, green hills and bamboo forests with gorgeous ocean backdrops. At the finish point you will be awarded with fresh coconut. In the village there is plenty of time to interact with villagers before we are treated to a dance performance. Around noon we start walking down the hill again and drive to Mbalata Beach for a swim and another picnic lunch. Around three we start the three hour drive to Ruteng and into check in the Wisma Santa Maria Hotel Susteran, a convent and missionary lodge built with a grant from the Mexican Government and without a doubt the best available accommodation in town.
Around seven we take you for dinner in the Agape Restaurant.
Day five: Tengku Lese Waterfall and Liang Bua (Hobbit Cave), (B,L,D)
Ruteng is the capital of the Manggarai district which takes up most of the western part of Flores and is the islands largest rice-producing area. The town is located at the foot of a high mountain range and in the center of a complicated network of valleys. Because of the altitude it has a pleasantly cool climate.
After our breakfast in the hotel we leave around 09:30 for a drive of one hour north of Ruteng to visit the Tengku Lese Waterfall. We trek through the fields to get to this two-tiered waterfall that tumbles down with an impressive roar and a scattering of small rainbows. Down at the bottom is a natural pool for those who want to go for a swim.
Driving from the waterfall to Liang Bua cave we first stop for lunch at restaurant Merlyn. Then we travel through a stunning landscape of rice terraces and enter the Wae Racang Valley. We reach Liang Bua Cave in the early afternoon. This limestone cave has yielded some of the most important finds in modern anthropology. The remains of two "hobbit" people, as they were nicknamed in the media were found here in 2003 by Mike Norwood, professor of anthropology at the University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia. He named this small human species “Homo Floresiensis”; he and others have shown that they lived as recently as 12,000 years ago, possibly putting them in contact with local Homo Sapiens. What makes Homo Floresiensis so remarkable is that they accomplished the same things as their larger cousins, such as making fire and hunting in cooperation with each other, while being less than four feet tall and having brains approximately one-half to one-third of the size of Homo sapiens.
At the end of the afternoon we drive back to Susteran Hotel in Ruteng.
In the evening we have dinner in Merlyn Restaurant
Day six: Ruteng - Labuan Bajo (B,L,D)
After our breakfast we leave the hotel at eight o clock and drive further to the West. We make a first stop at the village of Cara to admire the "spider-web" rice fields. They are among the most impressive and photogenic you will find in Indonesia.
In the course of the morning our next stop is in Melo Village where we witness a traditional Caci performance. Caci, a ritual whip fight, is a major element of Manggarai cultural identity. These performances are a unique and aesthetic mixture of dance and sport and a must-see attraction to all visitors. Caci consists of two men with whips and bamboo shields. They take turns trying to strike each other with the whip - jumping, spinning and trying to fake the other out in an attempt to strike the opponent. Sportsmanship and basic decency are a part of the game. If you hit your opponent in the face or the head, you lose! If you hit him on the back, this is seen as a good sign: it means the ensuing agricultural harvest will be a good one. After the Ceci performance we share an authentic Manggarai lunch with the villagers.
In the course of the afternoon we reach the small port town of Labuan Bajo and check into the Jayakarta Hotel
http://www.jayakartahotelsresorts.com/factsheet/The_Jayakarta_Suites_Komodo-Flores,_Beach_Resort,_Diving_&_Spa . Seafood Dinner in the hotel and overnight.
Day seven: Labuan Bajo - Rinca - Komodo Island (B, L, D)
On this day we visit the Komodo National Park which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. The park is in fact an archipelago of about eighty islands in between Flores and Sumbawa. Aside from the dragons, the fauna includes deer, buffaloes, boars, monkeys, wild horses, sea eagles, sulfur crested cockatoos and flying foxes.
After breakfast we take you to Labuan Bajo harbor which is only minutes away from the hotel. Here we board a fast motor launch for the 45 minute ride to the small cove of Loh Buaya on the island of Rinca, the second largest in the Komodo archipelago and the richest in terms of fauna. Here we go on a two hour trek in the company of experienced rangers and other than some of the infamous dragons we are likely to encounter more wildlife such as wild buffaloes, deer and horses. From the top of the hills, the scenery is spectacular. Once back on the boat we proceed for about an hour past hundreds of small islands to Komodo, the island that has given the dragon as well as the National Park its name. Here we go ashore at Loh Liang and again accompanied by a ranger, we make a second nature hike on this very special island that is covered by savannah and forest. The ranger shows us the dens and nests of the dragons and we learn a lot more about this mysterious creature.
In addition to the dragons the National Park offers a universe of spectacular underwater beauty, one of the very richest in the world in terms of diversity, host to more than 1,100 different species of fish and over 250 types of corals. After our visit to Loh Liang we take you on a swift ride to the famous Pink Beach, which is one of the very best spots for snorkeling . Here we have a picnic lunch and during the afternoon there is plenty of time to admire the splendid underwater world of these waters. We brought snorkels and fins. It is important to know that ninety percent of reef life lives in the top 10 meters of water, so snorkelers do not miss out on anything by not diving. The average water temperature is year round between 22º and 28º C (76º -85º F) and the visibility is usually between 15-50 meters. The return to Labuan Bajo will take around 2hours.
In the evening another seafood dinner in the Jayakarta Hotel. Overnight
Day eight : Labuan Bajo - Denpasar (B)
Breakfast at the hotel. At the appropriate time we take you to the Labuan Bajo airport only a couple of kilometers out of the town for the flight to Denpasar.