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An exemplary excursion over Flores: 4 day Flores trip

FLORES is one of the biggest islands in the archipelago Nusa Tenggara in the south-east Indonesia (the archipelago has been colonised by Portuguese as first Europeans). The island stretches over 360 km and its width is between 12 and 70 km. It is inhabited by 1.5 million of people. The long and narrow island is covered by active volcanoes, lakes hidden in forests, rice fields and many traditional villages.

Inhabitants of main Flores are mostly catholics, and in interior catholics constitute almost 100%. But their catholicism is often mixed up with primeval beliefs, so it will be correct to say that animists are predominant. During tourist visits in traditional villages it is easy to observe manifestations of those primeval beliefs: tombs, sacrifices to the gods of the rain or sun, and similar.

The lucky travellers can meet and talk to many Polish missionaries, who often are source of incredible stories.

Muslims are mainly “people of the sea” and are concentrated mostly on the shore working as fishermen or boat buiders. A big part of them come from the famous tribes Bajo and Bugis from south Sulawesi.

From other religions you can find protestants, Hindus and budhists.

Very spectacular events are old dances in traditional clothes. With a bit of luck tourists can observe festivities in some of the villages.

Flores is famous of its ikats, fabrics which are made using traditional methods. The choice is vaste, they differentiate according to the size, colours, patterns and quality. Inhabitants of Flores know from the first sight from whicch part of Flores a given ikat comes from. In general, in every village can be observed the process of their fabrication (sometimes production of one ikat lasts several months), and observe people, especially women, who wear them for the everyday use, like sarongs (wrapped around their waist or even around the whole body, when the weather is colder).

On Flores people speak in different languages (there is 6 main of them) and dialects. Sometimes differences appear already on very small areas.

The western part of Flores is Manggarai, which divides to Mangarrai Barat (West Mangarrai, with the capital in Labuan Bajo) and Mangarrai (with the capital in Rutenu).

The area of Rutenu was in the past governed by Bima kingdom from the neighbour island of Sumbawa, this influence is clearly visible in villages’ names and traditional clothes.

Recommended to visit are:

  • the cave pf pythons in Lembor (in the middle between Labuaan Bajo and Ruteng); pythons of several meters feed in those caves on millions of bats
  • traditional villages with characteristic houses (called Baru Gendang, with cone roofs, which almost touch the ground) and altars in the middle (called Compang, a place of sacrifice)
  • rice fields in typical for this region shape of a spider web – Lingko (traditional way of soil cultivation, which belongs to all inhabitants of the village, in the middle of the field there is a holy place called Lodok, where often inhabitants make sacrifices)

Bajawa is the capital of Ngada region, in the shadow of the majestic volcano Inerie (2130 m a.s.l). The whole area is covered with traditional villages of tribe Ngada, hidden in the forest (Bena, Luba, Wogo and others). Houses, places one towards the other one have very characteristic roofs and very decorated entrances.

Hot sources Soa, used mostly by local people, are a nice conclusion of the day (especially because the climate of Ruten and Bajawa is a bit cool).

Touristsh like very much to assist at the process of destilation of arrack (a strong alcohol obtained by the fermentation of the palm juice or a rice mash); there is always a possibility to taste and purchase on spot. Arrack is similar in taste to the Italian grappa, and tastes very well with coca-cola or sprite.

Ende was the headquarter of the kingdom existing in this region at the end of XVIII century. Here took place the rebellion against Dutch in 1916-1917 and here has been exiled the future first president of Indonesia, Soekarno (in 1934, sent here by Dutch).

Moni lies at the feet of Kelimutu volcano. In the neighborhoood there are some villages to visit: Jopu, Ranggase and Ngella, known of their typical houses and famous of their ikats.

Kelimutu volcano (1640 m a.s.l.) is famous of its 3 craters on the top. In every of the craters there is a lake, and each of the lakes has different colour of the water. The colour of the water depends of the presence of minerals in the water and changes significantly with the time passing (since the eruption of the volcano in 1969). In the present moment the biggest lake is of vivid turquoise colour, the second in the row (size-like) is rusty-burgundy and the third one is black (the last one was white in the past!)

Maumere is the capital of Sikka region, which was a kingdom in the past. From here we take the flight to Bali.