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Travel Guide Asia Indonesia Lesser Sunda Islands Flores

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Introduction

Flores is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands, a group of islands in the eastern half of Indonesia. The name Flores is derived from the Portuguese for "flowers". Flores is located east of Sumbawa and Komodo and west of Lembata and the Alor Archipelago. To the southeast is Timor. To the south, across the Sumba Strait, is Sumba island and to the north, beyond the Flores Sea, is Sulawesi. Among all islands containing Indonesian territory, Flores is the 10th most populous after Java, Sumatra, Borneo (Kalimantan), Sulawesi, New Guinea, Bali, Madura, Lombok, and Timor and also the 10th biggest island of Indonesia.

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Cities

  • Labuanbajo - launching point for Komodo Island and diving and snorkeling.
  • Ende - lazy capital of the Island and departure point for ferries to West Timor.
  • Maumere - diving/snorkeling center and easiest place to fly in and out of Flores.
  • Riung - diving/snorkeling center.
  • Moni - launching point for trek up Mount Kelimutu.
  • Bajawa - is one of the best areas in Nusa Tenggara to see indigenous architecture in local ethnic minority villages.
  • Ruteng - ethnic minority center interesting local villages.
  • Larantuka - port town on the eastern end of the island with a large Catholic community and Portuguese influences.

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Sights and Activities

Bajawa

Bajawa is a town and is the capital of the Ngada Regency. It lies south of the East Nusa Tenggara province and southeast of Ruteng. Bajawa features natural hot springs which are used for bathing and volcanic scenery.The population is primary Roman Catholic.

Gunung Kelimutu

Gunung Kelimutu is a volcano, close to the small town of Moni about 50 kilometres to the east of Ende on central Flores. The volcano contains three striking summit crater lakes of varying colors. Tiwu Ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People) is usually blue and is the westernmost of the three lakes. The other two lakes, Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Bewitched or Enchanted Lake) are separated by a shared crater wall and are typically green or red respectively. The lake colors vary on a periodic basis.

Labuanbajo

Labuanbajo is a fishing village on Flores. It is the entry door of Flores and a good base to explore Komodo or Rincha. You can do pretty good snorkelling or diving in the area. The snorkeling within the park offers many opportunities to see pristine reefs with some of the greatest fish and coral diversity in the world. Nearby Seraya Island is a great opportunity to do some diving and snorkeling and every evening at Kalong Island thousands of flying fox bats put on an amazing display.

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Getting There

By Plane

There are six airports distributed along the 354 kilometres of Flores island, the main ones being at Labuanbajo and Maumere. Both have regular services to Denpasar (Bali), Lombok, Kupang (West Timor) and various minor islands in Nusa Tenggara.

By Bus

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 340,000. The journey takes over 24 hours and has a buffet meal included in the price on Sumbawa. Most buses leave Mataram in the afternoon to meet the morning ferry from Sape to Labuan Bajo. Crossing Sumbawa at night they speed on the empty roads, so instead of slumbering the hours and miles away it could be a rather stressful journey. To Bima (Sumbawa), the bus is 'executive class', while the 2 hours from Bima to Sape are done in a crammed minibus. Instead of buying a combined ticket, it a viable alternative is to do the trip step-by-step (see [2]). This is only marginally cheaper (315K Rp), but does give increased flexibility in case something goes wrong (e.g. bus breaks down). In this case, the journey from Mataram to Labuan Bajo has three legs:

1. Bus from Mataram Terminal Mandalika to Bima. Several buses take the same route, but they all seem to depart daily at 14:30-15:00h. You can buy a ticket at an office in the bus station (ignore the touts), although this still seems to be a tour operator instead of the bus company itself. Price is 225K Rp, but there is likely some room for negotiation. The bus drives to Labuhan Lombok, then goes on the ferry to Poto Tano, Sumbawa (be sure to get back on the bus before the boat finishes docking; it will drive straight off the ferry and won't wait for you). It then continues on to Bima, stopping somewhere between 21:00-24:00h for an included buffet dinner. The bus should arrive in Bima between 3:00-6:00 in the morning.

2. Get a minibus from Bima to Sape. Foreigner prices seem to be 30K, but locals pay between 5K-10K.

3. Take the ferry from Sape to Labuan Bajo, Flores. Listed price is 60K Rp. There is only one ferry daily, which departs at 10:00h (although reports online state the schedule varies, and that there might also be a second ferry in the afternoon). The journey takes about 5-7 hours. If you're doing this entire trip in one go, you'll likely be quite tired at this point, but the boat does have a limited supply of reasonably comfortable mats for you to sleep on for an extra 25'000 Rp (just grab one and someone will come to collect money from you later).

By Boat

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, and arrival and departure times are flexible.

A number of companies, most notably Perama, organise 4 day sailing trips between Lombok or Bali and Flores which take in Komodo and Rinca, with prices between Rp 1 and 2 million. Creature comforts are few, with accommodations usually consisting of a thin reed mat on planks, and safety equipment is minimal to nonexistent.

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Getting Around

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 journey 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 try to enjoy the journey.

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Drink

If you come to the city Ende, be sure to try their kind of Indonesian coffee 'Kopi Ende'. It is coffee beans and ginger toasted together and brewed like normal coffee.

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Flores Travel Helpers

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This is version 3. Last edited at 10:25 on Jan 12, 18 by Utrecht. 9 articles link to this page.

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