Labuan Bajo

Travel Guide Lesser Sunda Islands Flores Labuan Bajo

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Introduction

Labuan Bajo (‘Pirate’s Harbour’) is the capital of West Manggarai regency and of Komodo district. The town used to be a fishermen’s village on a small strip of land between the sea and cliffs. There was modest accommodation for adventurous tourists who wanted to see the komodo dragons. But since the komodo’s have become a must-see attraction for mainstream tourists the fishing boats carry tourists to Komodo and other islands. Because there was no space left in Labuan Bajo centre, high-rise hotels and resorts have been built on Pede beach and beyond up to five kilometres south of town. The regency’s government encourages visitors to do more than a komodo tour and visit inland attractions, with the slogan: 'West Flores: Komodo & So Much More'.

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Sights and Activities

  • Komodo National Park - Many tourists come from Bali to see the komodo dragons with a package tour. Yet it is perfectly feasible to travel on one’s own to Labuan Bajo and once there at an agent in Yos Sudarso (main) Street book a boat tour at a day’s notice. Most popular are a one day tour to Rinca island and a 2-day/1-night to both Rinca and Komodo islands. Yet if you prefer another arrangement, you can ask for it. If you don’t need or want to share the cost with other travellers you can even deal directly with a boatman at the harbour. By a one-day tour to Rinca island one is certain to see the komodo’s; a stop at a snorkelling site and a sandy beach are usually included. A 2-day/1-night tour with overnight on the boat brings one to both Rinca and Komodo islands, and apart from a couple of swimming and snorkelling sites one will also see the flying foxes at Masangga Bay and with luck the manta’s near Kenanga island. (Note that at Riung one can approach the flying foxes much more closely.)
Sano Nggoang Crater Lake

Sano Nggoang Crater Lake

© theo1006

  • Sano Nggoang Crater Lake - Sano Nggoang (‘Burning Lake’) is the largest lake in Flores. Its surface area is three square kilometres and with a depth of 600 metres it is the deepest crater lake in the world. The water has a high content of sulfur and some volcanic activity is still going on at its bottom. At times black tarlike lumps rise to the surface, which the locals call tahi danau or excretions of the lake. Together with the 5,000 ha surrounding forests and the indigenous community at Nunang hamlet, Sano Nggoang is an off-the-beaten-path ecotourism destination. Bird spotters can find here the Flores Monarch (monarcha sacerdotum), the Flores Crow (corvus florensis), the Flores Hawk-eagle (spizaetus floris), the Wallacae Scops-owl (Otus silvicola), and the Thick-billed White-eye (heleia crassirostris). There is home-stay accommodation at Nunang and the people are happy to guide one to a lookout overlooking the lake, and show their home industry.
  • Mount Mbeliling - At 1239 metres in height, Mount Beliling is one of the highest peaks in West Flores. A 2-day mountain trek with a local guide leads through rainforests and an ever-changing array of vegetation specific to each altitude. By the overnight on the top one can enjoy both a sunset and a sunrise. The downhill trek passes by Cunca Rami Waterfall, for a refreshing dip in a natural pool. Starting point of the trek is a 50 minutes ride from Labuan Bajo, hiking time each day is approximately 4 hours.
  • Cunca Wulang Cascades - A series of cascading waterfalls through a stone-faced canyon discharges into a pool nestled in tropical rainforest. A kilometre downstream there is a series of smaller falls and cascades. The trek with a guide starts at Wersawe village an hour’s drive from Labuan Bajo. From the village it is a 50-minute hike down to the main fall. The guide will point out safe locations for rock jumping. With an additional hike of one hour each way one can also visit Liang Rodak Limestone Cave.
Use of Petrified Wood

Use of Petrified Wood

© theo1006

  • Petrified Wood at Tobodo village - They are lying around as so many rocks, huge chunks of petrified wood, up to one metre in diameter. A villager used one to support a post of his wooden house, another put one up as an ornament in his garden. They seem to have no value, unlike near Pelabuhan Ratu in West Java where they polish them and sell them for good money. Tobodo can be reached by car and is about 20 kilometres from Labuan Bajo.
  • Tado Traditional Village - This village offers ecotourism activities such as pandan mat weaving, the manufacture of traditional seed-oil lamps, cooking and preparation of traditional foods, rope-making using sugar-palm fibers, consumption of edible insects, weaving of bamboo baskets and more. Special request tours give an in-depth experience of Manggarai culture. Advance booking is advised. The village is located at 45 kilometres from Labuan Bajo direction Ruteng.
  • Melo Traditional Village - Renown for the caci whip fight dance, to be arranged by advance booking. A trip to Melo village can be combined with Mount Mbeliling trekking or a Cunca Wulang Canyon tour.
Five-sided column at Warloka

Five-sided column at Warloka

© theo1006

  • Warloka Prehistoric Site - Warloka is a coastal village easier accessed by boat than by road. On a flat hilltop next to the village stands a flat megalith table on four five-sided stone legs. More five-sided columns lie around, as well as flat stones with strange glyphs. The villagers put one column upright in front of their health centre.
  • Lale Lombong Prehistoric Site - Lale Lombong, more than half way on the road to Ruteng, has more prehistoric stone artefacts. These lie on a hilltop overlooking the the confluence of four rivers. More interesting than the stones are the legends of the villagers, who believe that their ancestors came from Sumatra.
  • Mirror Cave - Only a couple of kilometres northeast of Labuan Bajo centre are the limestone formations of Mirror Cave, Batu Cermin in Indonesian. At the right time of the day the sunlight reflects on the crystalline sides of the deep crevices.
  • Snake Palace - Istana Ular or Snake Palace is a cave inhabited by both bats and pythons. Of course the pythons feed on the bats. The mandatory guide will tell stories of the mystical relationship the local people have with the cave and its inhabitants. Located about 65 kilometres from Labuan Bajo.

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Getting There

By Plane

Labuhanbajo’s “Komodo Airport” started service in 2013, and presently connects with domestic destinations: Jakarta, Surabaya, Denpasar, Mataram, Kupang, Bajawa, Ende, Maumere, Bima, Waingapu. Plans are under way to develop the airport into an international one, able to accommodate 1.5 million passengers yearly.

By Bus

Overland travel is possible, although it is a long haul from most places. From Mataram (Lombok), a combined ticket including all buses and ferries costs IDR 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 two hours from Bima to Sape are done in a crammed minibus. Instead of buying a combined ticket, a viable alternative is to do the trip step-by-step. This is only marginally cheaper (IDR 315K), 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 IDR 225K, 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 IDR 60. There is only one ferry daily, which departs around 8:00h (not very punctual, be sure stand ready early). The journey takes about eight 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 IDR 25K (just grab one and someone will come to collect money from you later).

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet is becoming more widely used in Indonesia, and warung Internet (warnet) - Internet cafés - are emerging everywhere. A lot of restaurants and cafés in big cities normally have wireless internet available for free. Internet connection speed in Indonesia varies between ISP and location. Prices vary considerably, and as usual you tend to get what you pay for, but you'll usually be looking at around Rp3,000 to Rp5,000 per hour with faster access than from your own mobile phone. In large cities, there are free WiFi hotspots in many shopping malls, McDonald restaurants, Starbucks cafes, 7 Eleven convenience stores, and in some restaurants and bars. Some hotels provide free hotspots in the lobby and/or in their restaurants and even in your rooms.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

You can use 112 as an emergency number through mobile phones. Other numbers include 110 (police), 113 (fire) and 118 (ambulance).
The international phone code is 62.

If you have GSM cellular phone, ask your local provider about "roaming agreement/facility" with local GSM operators in Indonesia (i.e.: PT Indosat, PT Telkomsel, PT XL Axiata). The cheapest way is buying a local SIM card, which would be much cheaper to call and especially use internet compared to your own cell phone's sim card.

The Indonesian mobile phone market is heavily competitive and prices are low: you can pick up a prepaid SIM card for less than Rp 10,000 and calls may cost as little as Rp 300 a minute to some other countries using certain carriers (subject to the usual host of restrictions). SMS (text message) service is generally very cheap, with local SMS as low as Rp129-165, and international SMS for Rp400-600. Indonesia is also the world's largest market for used phones, and basic models start from Rp 150,000, with used ones being even cheaper.

Post

Pos Indonesia provides the postal service in Indonesia. Pos Indonesia is government-owned and offers services ranging from sending letters and packages to money transfers (usually to remote areas which have no bank branch/ATM nearby) and selling postcards and stamps. Sending a postcards, letter or parcel is relatively expensive, but fairly reliable. It takes several days at least to send it within Indonesia, at least a week internationally. It is recommended to send letters from a Pos Indonesia branch, not by putting it inside orange mailbox (called Bis Surat) in the roadside, because some of the mailboxes are in very bad condition and aren't checked regularly by Pos Indonesia. Opening times of post offices usually tend to follow general business hours: Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm (sometimes shorter hours on Fridays), Saturdays from 8:00am to 1:00pm, closed on Sundays. Bigger cities, tourist areas and central post offices tend to keep longer hours, into the evenings.

Private postal services based in Indonesia include CV Titipan Kilat (CV TIKI), Jalur Nugraha Ekaputra (JNE), Caraka, and RPX. There are also foreign postal services that have branches in Indonesia, including DHL, TNT, UPS, and FedEx.

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This is version 39. Last edited at 19:37 on Mar 3, 19 by theo1006. 6 articles link to this page.

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