Kelimutu National Park, located in Flores, near Ende, is known for its three amazing color-changing volcanic lakes. The color of the lakes are just surreal, called the tricolored lakes, they are all made of different colors, and they change according to the season and the minerals inside the water. They usually are different shades of turquoise and olive green, sometimes, one of them is red. The colors are so intense that the water looks super dense, more like paint than water.
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Locals think the lakes are sacred and magical, here the souls of the dead come. Young people’s souls go to the turquoise lake, old people to the brown/reddish one and the souls of the wicked go to the darker lake.
The spectacular colors are due to the dissolving minerals, explaining why they can change colors. The rain also has an impact, it accelerates the process of dissolution. The craters around the lake look a bit like the moon, and the sunlight and clouds will create an amazing atmosphere. The best time to visit the park is at dawn, watching the misty sunset coming over the volcano, slowly revealing the beauty of the lakes, is a once in a lifetime experience.
You’ll have to leave Moni at 4 am to be there at the right time. Early morning is the most crowded time, so if you want to be alone, go in the afternoon, the sun makes the water sparkle, it’s also really nice.
The trek to the viewpoint is super easy, it’s about 20 minutes walking, the last half of the path is made of stairs. From there, you’ll be able to see the three lakes, they sell drinks and snacks up there. If you’re not Asian, be prepared to have many people asking to take pictures with you. The entrance ticket for the Kelimutu National Park is 150k during the week and 225k on weekends.
You can arrange with your hotel for a car (300k both ways) or an ojek (50k one way) to drive you in the morning. Then you can trek your way back through the fields and villages. Ask your hotel for a map or download maps.me, the path is on it. The first village you’ll cross is a weaving village, you’ll be able to see the women making ikat.
It takes about 3 hours to get back to Moni from Kelimutu National Park, the views are amazing, and toward the end you can stop at a waterfall or at the Kolorongo hot springs, depending on the path you choose. The hot springs are in the middle of the fields, it’s like a natural hot tub, definitively worth a visit. You can even go there at night (not alone) and gaze at the many stars.
Don’t miss the local market, held every Mondays, it’s a good place to buy traditional ikat and to try local food. Try the Moni cake, a potato pie topped with cheese. Flores is a mountainous island, and it can get a bit cold, especially at night. The locals wrap themselves into a long and thick sarong (imagine a blanket sew like a tube). It’s made by hand, using traditional machines and can take months to make depending on the pattern.
How to get to Kelimutu National Park:
Transportation in Flores is super simple: there’s only one road, and most of the interesting spots are along this road, so is Moni. Many buses are going both ways (Ende or Maumere) until 5 pm. The road from Ende to Moni is just spectacular, I had seen many rice fields before, but there, it’s just amazing.
Where to stay near Kelimutu National Park:
Moni is the closest town to Kelimutu National Park. There are plenty of accommodations to choose from. The cheapest that I know of would be Santiago, along the main road, you can get a dorm bed for 50k. Try the tomato sauce pasta, it’s amazing.
Don’t know where to go next? Check out Bajawa, where you can meet with Ngada people and discover their traditional way of living.
Related articles to help you plan your trip to Flores and Indonesia:
- Indonesia – Everything you need to know before going
- Gunung Bromo – Java’s most incredible volcano
- Packing hacks – Items that will actually help you save space
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