During our time in Flores, we really wanted to make a stop to Mount Kelimutu, to visit the famous three crater lakes that sit atop the volcanic mountain. The Kelimutu Crater Lakes have cultural significance – legends suggest that spirits would come to the Crater Lakes and be allocated to a lake to go in, depending on their character / age. They are also famous for the mysterious shift in colour throughout the years and seasons. The lakes can change from green to blue to red to brown due to the chemical reactions from the minerals in the lake.
It’s definitely an interesting and outer-worldly sight to visit if you have the chance.
HOW TO GET TO KELIMUTU CRATER LAKES
Our journey from Melbourne to Kelimutu started with our flight to Bali Denpasar, then to Labuan Bajo, and then to Ende. We booked each flight on a different day, as I had read online that the flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo was often delayed or cancelled. Lucky we did that, because our flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo ended up being delayed for almost 8 hours.
LABUAN BAJO > ENDE AIRPORT
The flight from Labuan Bajo to Ende takes approximately 45 minutes and we flew with Wings Air. The airplane is tiny, and the airport once you arrive at Ende is just as small. It’s as remote as I’ve ever been and it was such a fun and eye-opening experience.
ENDE AIRPORT > MONI VILLAGE
Once at Ende airport, you will need to take a car to Moni village which is approximately 1.5-2 hours drive away. To get to Moni, you can either have your accomodation arrange a private driver to come pick you up, or you can arrange a driver yourself once you arrive at the airport. At the airport exit, there are numerous taxi drivers / drivers offering to drive you to Moni so there is certainly no issue in finding a driver once you arrive.
Expect to pay around 350k-500k IDR for a ride to Moni.
For us, we had our accomodation, Kelimutu Crater Lakes Ecolodge, arrange a private driver to pick us up – because we didn’t know what the situation would be like at the airport. Our driver, Pang, was absolutely lovely. Along the way from Ende to Moni, he stopped at numerous viewpoints – a beautiful suspended bridge, rice paddies, hidden valleys and more. I had read that the drive from Ende to Moni would be beautiful, but I didn’t expect it to be just so magical.
Whilst Labuan Bajo was relatively hot and humid, Moni felt a lot more cooler and a little less humid. The visit to Kelimutu is very cool as well, so be sure to pack a jacket, jumper and/or pants if you go. Inland Flores is definitely a whole different ballgame.
KELIMUTU CRATER LAKES ECOLODGE
Once at Moni, we checked into Kelimutu Crater Lakes Ecolodge, a beautiful hidden oasis set in a valley and river. The thing that drew me to Kelimutu Crater Lakes Ecolodge in the first place was its beautiful thatched roof bungalows and its eco focus – the whole place is powered by solar energy and the Ecolodge employs only locals from the area.
Our bungalow at Kelimutu was really spacious. Our big comfy bed was equipped with mosquito nets, and the bathroom was roomy too. Out front, we had the most beautiful view of the surrounding rice paddies and a lovely porch and deck chairs to enjoy the view. Do note that at this lodge, there are no phones in room so you’ll have to do it the old way and walk to the front reception if you have any issues, also things like hairdryers you’ll have to borrow from the front reception too. The staff here are absolutely lovely, and all so cheery and full of smiles. In general, accomodation in this area is meant to be quite basic with this Ecolodge being on the more luxurious side.
MEALS AT THE ECOLODGE
Meals at the Ecolodge are taken at the restaurant. They’re local dishes done home-cooked style. Some dishes we had included chicken cooked with local spices, veggies, nasi goreng, gado gado, pumpkin veggie soup – the menu is quite extensive actually!
VISITING KELIMUTU CRATER LAKES AT SUNRISE
One of the reasons why we did a 2 night stay in the area was because we wanted to visit Kelimutu Crater Lakes at sunrise. In order to make it at sunrise, you need to leave Moni around 4-4:30am. The drive to the entrance of Kelimutu National Park from the Ecolodge was approximately 30 minutes.
KELIMUTU CRATER LAKES ENTRY FEE
At the entry, you pay your ticket fee – we visited on a Sunday which is much more expensive than the other days and paid 225K per person, and 10k for parking.
After getting your tickets, you drive another 10 minutes to the carpark. This is followed by about a 20 minutes brisk walk up to Kelimutu Crater Lakes. The walk is largely stairs however there are some portions of dirt path and stones as well. It’s best to wear some sort of closed toe shoes at least. And definitely dress warm because it’s freezing and windy up top.
THE CRATER LAKES & THE TWO VIEWPOINTS
There are two viewpoints for Kelimutu Crater Lakes. The first viewpoint you reach will have a small path veering off to the right. This viewpoint is a close up view of two of the lakes. Skip this one and first head up to the top, the more impressive viewpoint, for sunrise.
The viewpoint that you want to see for sunrise is at the end of the path. Here, it is extremely windy and cold. Our driver Pang told us that it’s often windy up here however on the day we visited, that it was extra windy. We also unfortunately went on a day with heavy cloud cover so was acutally only able to see the view for about 10 minutes before sunrise before the whole view was covered by cloud for the rest of the day.!
However, if you are lucky, you will be able to catch the sun rising from behind the crater lakes. After enjoying the view, head back down to the first viewpoint to check that out. It’s really quite magnificent to see the blue lakes shining up close.
If you have time and you’re interested, it’s best to come back again later in the day (your ticket works for the whole day,) to see the sun shining into the lakes, giving Kelimutu Crater Lakes a whole different feel. We tried to go back again after midday however unfortunately the Crater Lakes (and entire walking path) was covered in cloud and rain. Oh well, next time!
DRIVE BACK TO MONI
On the drive back to Moni, there are some absolutely stunning vistas to see. We stopped at numerous rice paddies as well as a view point on Kelimutu where you could see the village of Moni far off in the distance.
Also along the way was a beautiful hidden waterfall with a bamboo bridge which locals use to cross every day to reach their village tucked away behind – bring your mozzie spray though, there are plenty waiting around for a feed.
BACK AT KELIMUTU CRATER LAKES ECOLODGE
With all that adventuring, it’s the perfect time to get some food in your bellies! We had all our meals at our Ecolodge and it was so lovely to relax without having to leave the Ecolodge looking for somewhere to eat.
The Ecolodge is also situated near a beautiful gushing river and rice paddies and we spent some of our time wandering around the grounds nearby just relaxing for the rest of the day.
All in all, we had a wonderful time at Moni visiting Kelimutu Crater Lakes and the surrounding attractions. One day if I ever find myself in the area again, I’d love to give the Kelimutu Crater Lakes a second shot – hopefully the weather is better next time round! Also, I’d love to explore more of inland Flores – there’s actually a lot to see on this island than just Labuan Bajo and Komodo!