It was my first time traveling to the eastern part of Indonesia, when me and Tya, my working colleague, decided to go to Komodo National Park in Flores. Since the beginning we had planned this trip, everything was done by ourselves; from making itinerary in which most of the information were gathered from Google and Youtube, budgeting, and other preparation for our backpacking trip. After browsing and comparing all the information, it turned out that the best way to explore the islands are by taking the overnight boat trip, which takes three days and two nights. So instead of chartering the boat only for ourselves, we decided to join a local tour as it was cheaper. There are several options of overnight boat trips which suit for all budget levels with various prices, depending on the size of the boat, number of the passengers, and also other facilities such air-conditioner, toilet, and deck; but one thing for sure, the three times-meal and snorkeling equipments are included in all the boat trips.
To reach the island, there are two options for flights from Jakarta to Labuan Bajo with transit point in bali or direct flights from Jakarta to Labuan Bajo with Garuda Indonesia. I suggest to take an early morning flight to Labuan Bajo. As soon as we arrived in Labuan Bajo, we chartered a local motorcycle (ojek) to take us right away to Bajo View, The cost of accommodation in the town is US$1.50. Bajo View has friendly buget and camp-style concept that will suitable for backpackers, the accommodation near harbour and airport costs US$8/pax/night. Afterwards, we had slept early as tomorrow morning we began the sail trip to explore Komodo National Park which made up of three main islands: Komodo, Rinca, and Padar, as well as parts of Flores and 26 smaller islands including my dreamy island, Kanawa, in which we spent our first day to snorkel. Talking about the national park, it was built since 1980 to protect Komodo dragons, but only in 1991 it got recognition from UNESCO as one of World’s Heritage Site, and ten years later Komodo National Park won the “New Seven Wonders of Nature”.
On the second day, we hiked the Gili Lawa to see the sunrise. The massive effort we took to reach the top was finally paid off when we saw the beautiful sunrise we saw from the top of the island. Our next destination was Manta Point, a snorkel and dive spot which is known for its manta rays. And that time we were very lucky as we could spot the biggest manta I have ever seen in my life! Not long after that, we went to Taka Makasar and Pink Beach, which is one of only seven pink beaches in the world. The pink sand is formed from the red coral pieces mixed with the white sand gives it a pinkish hue. After snorkeling, we continued our trip to Komodo Island, where we saw lots of Komodo dragon babies running around.
As we did on the previous day, the third day was started with waking up early to get to the top of Padar Island. The hike was as tough as the one we had to Gili Lawa, but the view was definitely worth every drop of sweat, I could see all the three beaches from up there! After we spent a while to lazy around and take pictures, we went back to Rinca Island to see the komodo dragons. In order to see them, we have to be accompanied by the rangers. It is also worth to note that as the dragons can smell the blood within 10 meters, women who have their menstruation are not allowed to enter Rinca and Komodo Island. And that was our last destination of our boat trip. Afterwards, we were back to Labuan Bajo and stayed there before crossing to Kelimutu National Park, the other most famous gems of Flores where the famous Mount Kelimutu volcano resides with its stunning three-colored lakes resting in its caldera. Once in a while, the three lakes change their colors. A few years ago, the lakes were white, turquoise, and red; but currently they have become black-brown, green and red. Without no doubt, it has been one of the most amazing natural phenomenons in the country, if not the world.
Our fourth day marked the beginning of our ‘real’ backpacking trip, when we took one hour flight journey to Ende, the biggest city in Flores which is also served as the gateway to other regions, Sumba and Kupang. Once we reached the city we stopped by Taman Renungan Bung Karno, the place where Pancasila was declared by the Indonesian first president. Later on, we went to Moni, a small town close to Kelimutu which is known as starting point for climbing the mountain and also the place where we stayed overnight.
On the following morning we woke up early to see the colored lakes at its best times, which is at sunrise. As we were hiking before sunrise, it’s a good idea to wear warm clothes (jumper, jacket, gloves, socks) and bring a flashlight because the temperature can get really cold and also the surrounding is still dark. Even though there was a little bit of fog, which made it a bit longer to finally see the whole sun came up, we were waiting patiently with cups of Flores coffee on our hands. The entrance fee to Kelimutu is US$19. Our last destination before going back to Ende was Bena Traditional Village, which is located in Ngada, six hours road journey from Moni. But no need to worry, the idyllic view along the way to the village, from traditional fish market, high cliff, to the beach filled with blue stones; would not make you get bored and fall asleep. At least, it worked on me. Once we reached Bena Village, we were welcomed by friendly locals. As we entered the village which was built nine hundred years ago, there were women sat on their verandas, weaving Ikat, the fabric that is one of the trademark handicrafts of this village. The village was peaceful with no tourist hassle. We climbed to the first terraced level of the village where the local houses arranged in a square shape on terraced land completely cleared of vegetation.
And that was the end of our journey in Flores, so come and visit wonderful Indonesia.
About APCC and BCIO
Asian-Pacific Children’s Convention (APCC) is an a cultural exchange between Japan and other countries to maintain friendship, respect, understanding, and become a Global Citizen. Every year they invite kids from 40 countries as a Junior Ambassador (JA) to participate summer camp in Fukuoka, and provide homestay. Bridge Club (BC) is part of APCC that established to maintain the former JA to keep active and expand networking while spread peace over the world through BC Activities. Bridge Club International Organization (BCIO) was established to monitor all BCs and helping non-BC countries to develop their BC to reach the goal.
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