FLORES

FLORES

Flores (east of Komodo, about 1,000 kilometers east of Bali) is a wonderful island with volcanos, coral reefs, rough roads, spectacular countryside and friendly people who are noticeably blacker—more closely related to the people from Papua New Guinea—than the people on islands to the west. The rugged topography of the island has divided its population into numerous ethnic groups, most of whom are Christian. "Flores" is Portuguese for “flower,” a name derived from the island’s colorful coral reefs.

Over 450 kilometers long, Flores is one of the three largest islands in Nusa Tengarra along with Sumba and Timor. A mountain range runs from east to west across the island, roughly dividing it into north Flores and south Flores. There are 14 active volcanos. Only Java and Sumatra have more. The wet season on most of the island is from December to April, with the dry season occurring from May to November. Rainfall rarely exceeds 200 centimeters. The west part of the island tends to be the wettest part and the north coast tends to be drier than the south coast.

Flores is home to the greatest concentration of Catholics in Indonesia. There are about 1.4 million of them. Catholicism arrived on Flores in earnest in 1914, when priests from the German-based Society of the Divine Word systematically moved from the coasts to the mountains and had great success converting almost everyone to Catholicism. An earlier effort by Jesuits largely failed. Pope Paul VI visited in 1967. Pope John Paul II came in 1989 and conducted mass in Maumere stadium. Local priests and nuns are very involved in running the island’s affairs.

Flores is one of the poorest islands in Indonesia. It doesn’t have any natural resources. The prosperity of many farmers depends on prices of its main cash crops, cacao and cashews. Sukarno was exiled here and wrote movingly about the common values of Catholics and Muslims. On Flores some people still perform headhunting dances. High quality ikats are available. The main ethnic groups are the Manggarai (in the Ruteng area), the Ngada (Bajawa), the Ende and Lio (Ende), the Sikkanese (Maumere) and the Lamaholot (Larantuka).

Situated in the province of East Nusa Tenggara, Flores is divided into 8 districts; West Manggarai, Manggarai, East Manggarai, Nagekeo, Ngada, Ende, Sika and East Flores. Further east are the adjacent islands of Alor and Lembata. The chain of volcanoes stretches the length of this long and narrow island, creates complicated V-shaped valleys and knife-edged ridges — terrain that was near impenetrable until recently and has separated the island into many distinct ethnic groups.

Flores has drawn worldwide attention with the discovery of At the easternmost tip of the island, Larantuka is famous for its Easter-week rituals that still continue the old Portuguese traditions brought here some 500 years ago. While at adjacent Lembata, islanders hunt whales manually, harpooning precariously from small boats.

Tourism website: florestourism.com

NUSA TENGGARA

Nusa Tenggara is a string of islands that extend to the east of Bali and continues in a southeast curve towards Australia. The main islands are (from west to east) Lombok, Sumbawa, Komodo, Flores, Sumba, and Timor. Also known as the Lesser Sundas or Lesser Sunda Islands, Nusa Tengarra is the driest part of Indonesia. Parts of the islands have been denuded by slash and burn agriculture and brush fires. As one travels eastwards the climate get drier and drier and some land areas are covered by open savannah. The 300-meter-deep channel that runs between Bali and Lombok extends northwards and divides Kalimantan and Sulawesi and marks the Wallace Line, with different species of animals living on each side.

The largest islands in Nusa Tengarra are Sumba, Flores and Timor. Bali and Nus Tenggara account for 4.6 percent of Indonesia’s land and 5.3 percent of its population. The region is poorer than other parts of Indonesia. Corn and taro are grown in the dryer areas rather than rice. Many ethic groups live in the region, particularly on Flores and Alor. Many of the people are Christians.

Travel in the region is much easier than it used be. There are numerous flights to many cities; the ferries are frequent and regular; and the roads and bus links are good. You can visit Nusa Tenggara by air. From Darwin, Australia, you can go to Kupang twice a week, joinly operated by Air North and Merpati Nusantara Airlines. Silk Air operates from Singapore and Merpati offers flights from Kuala Lumpur to Mataram. You can also visit Bali first, from this island it's easier to reach Nusa Tenggara. What about traveling by sea? Awu, Dobonsolo, Dorolonda, Kelimutu, Sirimau, Tatamailau, Pangrango and Tilongkabila ferries serve Nusa Tenggara. Slow ferries also connect the small islands.

Sea food is abundant and western style food can be found in many places. West Nusa Tenggara dishes, Lombok (Sasak) especially, can be spicy so you need to ask around if you can't stand it. Freshwater fish is also a favorite, try gurami asam manis (sweet and sour gouramy fish) while you're around. Ayam taliwang (roasted chicken with special sauce made of shallot, garlic, fish paste etc.) is a must, eaten with steamed rice and plecing kangkung (boiled greens, bean sprouts, peanuts coated with chili sauce) and sambal beberuk. They are very spicy though, especially sambal beberuk, made with lots of chili, tomatoes and eggplants. Tourism Office: Jl. Singosari 2, Mataram 83127, Tel. (62-370) 631730, 633886, 6358474, 6387828-9, fax: (62-370) 637233, 635274, Website: http://entebe.com, E mail: disbudpar@wasantara.net.id

Wallace Line and the History and People of Nusa Tenggara

Flores in Nusa Tengarra is the home of Homo floresiernsis, the Hobbit-like hominids that lived between 95,000 and 12,000 years ago. Otherwise, the history of Nusa Tenggara has not been has not been carefully studied. During 17th century, Dutch began to colonize this region. Many people these days stil live like their ancestors, fishing or farming. This area began to gain popularity when Komodo Island and surroundings became famous.Today this area is known mainly for the tourist spots of and Komodo island.

On Lombok island, the Sasak kingdom dominated this area until Balinese and Makasarrese attacked it. In the middle of 18th century, Balinese kingdom reigned over the island. Dutch occupied Lombok in the 19th century. After Indonesian independence, Lombok was dominated by Sasak elite, most are Muslim, and Balinese, most of whom are Hindus.

Sasak people and Balinese dominate Lombok, but Javanese also can be found in West Nusa Tenggara. Arab, Bugis and Chinese also live in this area. Most of Sasak people are Muslim and they value modesty, meaning visitors should respect their belief. You should cover yourself appropriately, meaning going nude or topless is deemed inappropriate. Public display of affection should be limited and consumption of alcohol must be done moderately.

The Wallace Line, named after 19th century naturalist, Alfred Russell Wallace, marks a point of transition between the flora and fauna of Western and Eastern Indonesia and acts as the western boundary of West Nusa Tenggara, which includes the island of Lombok and Sumbawa. The northern part of the island is mountainous and lush with tall trees and shrubs. The south, on the other hand is arid and covered by savannas. Large Asian mammals are absent and replaced instead by marsupials, lizards, cockatoos and parrots. The difference becomes more pronounced as one moves further east, where dry seasons are more prolonged and corn and sago are staple food, instead of rice.

East Nusa Tenggara

East Nusa Tenggara is a province that embraces over 550 islands, but it's dominated by three main islands, Flores, Sumba and Timor. The arid landscape of eastern and southeastern Nusa Tenggara is the result of hot, dry winds blasting in from Australian continent. In many coastal areas little rain falls during most of the year.

The islands between Sumbawa and Timor are crowded with volcanoes and mountains. Mt Sirung in East Nusa Tenggara erupted in May 2004. Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate their homes. Plantations at the base of the mountain were said to have dried up. They are divided into several regions with distinct languages and traditions. Predominantly Catholic and heavily influenced by the Portuguese, there are many examples of strong European cultural heritage, like the Easter procession held in Larantuka and royal regalia of the former king in Maumere.

Formerly known as Sandalwood Island, Sumba is now famous for its horses and it superb style of ikat cloth. West Sumba is famous for its enormous megalithic tombs and traditional thatched and peaked huts raised on stilts. Timor is the principal island in the province in terms of population and it is here that the provincial capital of Kupang is located.

It was the Portuguese that first made this place into importance. Before their arrival in 1512, this place was an out of the way place and foreign people seldom made a visit. Portuguese also gave the names to Timor and Solor, and brought Christianity missionaries along with them.

In 17th century, Dutch tried to take over but little was done to this area. After all these centuries, the wildlife remains nearly unchanged and for those who prefer rugged, exotic terrain, or an adventure, this might be the place for you.

Entry: Kupang as the provincial capital serves as the gate from Darwin (Australi) twice a week. Regular shuttle flights from Bali, Makassar and Surabaya provide excellent transportation links. There are PELNI ships calling at Nusa Tenggra Timur that regularly sail from Jakarta, Surabaya, Denpasar, Makassar, Biak etc.

People and Culture: Pasola Jousting Ceremony in Sumba Island East Nusa Tenggara. “Pasola” is west Sumba’s most exciting ritual. Scores of colorfully arrayed horsemen riding bare back, battle with lances. During these mock wars, riders charge one another flinging blunt spears. The ceremony is held during February in the Lamboya and Kodi Villages and March in Gaura and Wanokaka. It begins several day after the full moon and coincides with the yearly arrival of strange multihued sea worms (called nyale) of the region’s shore.

Food: Sea food is naturally one of the specialties here. Freshwater fish is considered a delicacy and you might want to try gurami asam manis (sour and sweet fish known in the Latin name as Osporonemus gouramy). Sasak cuisine is considered quite spicy so you might want to ask before ordering dishes, if you prefer bland food. Sauteed vegetables are also popular here. Try pelecing kangkung, this sauteed green, leafy vegetable is tasty to be eaten hot with steamed rice. Tourism Office: Jl. Raya El Tari 2 No. 2 Kupang 85118 Tel. (62-380) 833104, 833650 Fax. (0380) 821540, goseentt.com

Sights and Activities in Flores

Long hidden in the shadows of its more famous neighbor Bali, Flores is finally emerging as a unique destination of its own. So, after visiting the lair of the Komodo dragons, take time to marvel at some of the wonders of Flores. Here you can swim in pristine lakes and waterfalls, dive at one of the 50 spectacular dive sites, go kayaking among craggy coasts and mangrove shores, explore mysterious caves and be warmly welcomed by the island’s people in their rituals, dances and daily life. Divers see huge manta rays, dolphins and dugongs, while whales can be seen passing Flores’s east coast during their migration period. There are many sparkling white beaches, and even one with pink sand.

Travelers often spend about a week on Flores, starting in Labuan Bajo and traveling by road to Ruteng, and then on to Bajawa, Ende, Detusoko, Kelimutu, ending up in Maumere, from where they flight out. Those that stay a few days and generally confined to places with reach of Labuan Bajo, which is nice enough. It is the place from which trips to Komodo are arranged. Not far from Labuan Bajo are the limestone formations known as Batu Cermin, or Mirror Caves. There is also the Snake Palace, or Istana Ular, that has an amazing collection of pythons and bats. Make sure that you have a local guide with you and obey the customs here, since people believe in a mystical relationship between the snakes and the local people. Here you can also see petrified large trees. Do not miss the legendary Caci or “Whip fight Dance”, that combines ritual, legend, mysticism and music in one single colorful spectacle.

Ruteng is a small, cool town in the mountains. One can find a unique formation of spider web rice fields at Lembor and Cancar, At Bajawa is the traditional village of Bena, where, according to megalithic tradition handed down through generations, people pay respect to their ancestors who are believed to dwell in the conical thatched roof huts called “Ngadhu” and “Bhaga”, symbolizing the spirits of their male and female ancestors. Note the huge boulders of stones and stone seats planted in front of their houses, not unlike the ones seen in the villages on the island of Nias in North Sumatra.

Onekore by the the town of Ende, is famous for its beautiful ikat weaving. From here stay overnight at a missionary guesthouse at Detusoko. For adventure, take the drive up Mt. Kelimutu, where visitors must still walk another 1.5 kilometers. then climb 127 steps to the edge of the crater, from where one has a panoramic view of the three lakes, currently green, blue and black. When Dutch geologists discovered the craters in 1914, the colors were red, blue and white. At Maumere enjoy the pristine beach and snorkel to your heart’s content before taking your flight out. Maumere offers great diving. There are 40 wonderful dive spots in the marine gardens in the Bay of Maumere.

Volcanos on Flores

Flores is part of a volcanic belt which stretches from Sumatra through Java and Bali to the Banda Sea. More than 17 volcanoes lie on 400-kilometer-long snake-shaped Flores. The highest, still-active volcanoes are Mount Egon (1703 meters) in Sikka District and Mount Inerie (2245 meters in the Ngada District.

However, the most famous volcano is Kelimutu with its three colored crater lakes, shimmering in green, turquoise, and black-red. Although many of the volcanoes in Flores are not classified as active, they display a number of post-volcanic formations worth seeing, such as calderas, basalt columns, and volcanic lakes. See Kelimutu

The volcanos on Flores include Ebulobo, Egon, Ilikedeka, Ilimuda, Inielika, Inierie, Iya, Kelimutu, Leroboleng, Lewotobi, Ndete Napu, Poco Leok, Ranakah, Sukaria, and Wai Sano. Egon Volcano (east of Maumere) erupted in February 2004. More than 5,000 people were forced to evacuate.. A lot of smoke and sulfur smell emanated from the crater. The 1703-meter-high volcano erupted against a few months later in August. Mt. Lewotobi Volcano on Flores erupted in September 2003. People living on the slopes were forced to evacuate. Hot ash was spewed over a large area. Debris destroyed some crops.

Deadly Flores Earthquake and Tsunami of 1992

In December 1992, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake and the waves generated by it killed at least 2,500 people and destroyed thousands of buildings on the island of Flores about 1,000 kilometers east of Bali. It was the largest and also the deadliest earthquake in 1992. [Source: Wikipedia]

The quake struck at around 5:30am local times and was followed by several serious aftershocks. Of the 2,500 people killed or missing, 1,490 were at Maumere and 700 were on Babi. More than 500 people were injured and 90,000 were left homeless. Nineteen people were killed and 130 houses were destroyed on Kalaotoa. Damage was assessed at exceeding US$100 million. Approximately 90 percent of the buildings were destroyed at Maumere, the hardest hit town, by the earthquake and ensuing tsunami while 50 to 80 percent of the structures on Flores were damaged or destroyed. Electricity in the general area and the port of Maumere was shut down. Maumere's hospital was completely destroyed, and patients were treated in tents. Damage also occurred on Sumba and Alor.

The tsunami on Flores ran inland as far as 300 meters with wave heights of 25 meters reported. The Indonesian government sent rescue and relief missions to earthquake-stricken areas and declared the earthquake a national disaster. The Indonesian air force provided assistance, mostly transporting medicine and clothing. Malaria and influenza rose significantly after the disaster. Babi Island survivors were evacuated since all the houses on the island were demolished. International relief efforts were hindered by the onset of the rainy season.

Accommodation and Getting to Flores

As a newly emerging destination, the island of Flores has limited accommodation facilities, there are now a number of starred accommodation at Labuan Bajo and Maumere, and also small hotels and guesthouses. In Labuan Bajo there is the four star Bintang Flores hotel. A number of smaller hotels are the Puri Sari Beach Hotel, the Bayview Gardens Hotel, the Gardena Hotel, the Golo Hilltop Hotel, the Waicicu Eden Beach Hotel, and smaller accommodations, called “losmen” (for accommodation facilities see floreskomodo.com)

At Maumere the favoured hotel is the Sao Wisata resort, which offers de luxe, superior rooms and standard rooms. Sao Wisata is located some 100m from Manly beach. Or you may wish to stay at the Sea World Club which offers facilities for divers. . A number of companies from Bali also offer live-aboards on phinisi boats.

Transnusa in cooperation with Aviastar now operates twice daily flights from Denpasar (Bali) and Labuan Bajo,leaving Bali at 8.00 am and 12.00 noon. The flight takes about 1 hour. Batavia Air also has daily Denpasar-Labuan Bajo flights at 9.00am, returning from Labuan Bajo at 10.45. Transnusa also has 3 weekly flights to Maumere from Bali using Jet BA3-146 with 82 seats capacity. Additionally Transnusa flies Bali-Ende - Kupang(Timor) — Ruteng on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, and Kupang (Timor)- Labuan Bajo daily. Transnusa also serves Kupang — Larantuka.

Batavia Air has started operating Surabaya-Denpasar-Kupang-Maumere-Kupang flights using B737-200 aricraft. Flights to Maumere are 4 times weekly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. Merpati flies Kupang-Maumere and Garuda Indonesia flies only Jakarta-Kupang (on the island of Timor) from where you can connect on local airlines to Flores. You can check flight details at indonesia.travel

My brother and I flew a Merpati flight from Flores back to Bali in the early 1990s. It was quite a thrill. We boarded a 16 seat twin engine turbo-prop in Ende which after took off and flew right over the crater of a smoking volcano. We could see smoke pouring out of a dozen vents as we flew over it. The plane continued along, then dropped down all of a sudden at a very steep angle to land on a 100 meter long runway inside the crater of another volcano near Bajawa. From there we flew to Sumbawa where half the passengers were told they had to get off so a gravely ill woman on a stretcher could to be loaded on. We were fortunate enough not to get bumped and we continued on to Lombok where we were told we had to change planes. The plane that took us the rest of the way to Bali was a vintage 1940's single engine sea plane with six seats.

Labuan Bajo

Labuan Bajo (far western Flores) is a former fishing villages that has developed into diving and snorkeling spot and is now the main jumping off point for tours to see Komodo dragons on Komodo and Rinca Islands, Some visitors come to have a boat take them to an uninhabited island. The diving is said to especially good around Pulai Serayur Kecil, Palau Bidari and between Sabolo Besar and Sabolo Kecil. Outside of town there are some interesting caves and limestone canyons.

On the westernmost tip of the Island of Flores, Labuan Bajo (also spelled Labuhan Bajo) has amazingly comprehensive tourist facilities but has surprisingly little to see in the town itself. Labuan Bajo acts as a transit port to Komodo and Flores itself. There are quite a few travel agencies, stores, restaurants, money changers, and dive operators which travelers seek out to realize their travel plans and stock up o supplies. The town offers and a wide range of accommodation, from simple guesthouses to starred hotels along the beachfront that can provide you with free information and earn a nice commission if they sign you up for a tour.

Administratively, Labuan Bajo is the capital of the West Manggarai District that covers a quarter of the total area of the Island of Flores. Although the pace of the tourism industry is accelerating, 65 percent of the people in the town and immediately outside still a large share of their income from agriculture. It is recommended that you find an ATM in Labuan Bajo and stock up on cash because credit cards are of little use in many places and ATMs my be hard to find. Make sure that you bring along anti-mosquito lotions and anti-malaria medicines, since Labuan Bajo is a malaria endemic area.

In the inner town of Labuan Bajo you can find rows of souvenir shops selling key chains, local ikat fabric, T-shirts and Komodo dragon carvings. The best souvenirs you can get is the local coffee as it tastes very strong and aromatic. The food and chilies found in this area is said to be especially hot. Although the infrastructure is limited, an internet connection is available.

Padang food is everywhere in Indonesia, and Labuan Bajo is not an exception. Food is cheap and they are sold along the main road in Labuan Bajo. Several nicer restaurants and cafes are available at the hotels. Try The Corner, The Gardena, The Lounge, and The Matahari. Also try The Paradise, and Arto Moro. These places sell everything especially western food as the owners are mainly western expatriates or investors. Due to its geographical positions and the lack of convenient transportation, several menus offered are sometimes not available.

Getting Around and Getting to Lubuan Bajo

You can hire a car with a driver or travel by rental car from the Labuan Bajo airport to any place on the Flores mainland. The rate depends on your negotiation but currently it is about Rp500,000 per day. Hotels can help you find a driver and car. For your mobility within the city, bemo’s (traditional public transportation) and motor taxis are available, but they only operate until 9.00 pm.. If you want to visit the nearby islands, such as to Komodo or Rinca, rented motorboats and speed boats are available at the port.

Labuan Bajo is accessible by air, land, and sea. Flying to Labuan Bajo is possible for the Komodo Airport (LBJ) is open for operation. Transnusa Airlines are directly connecting Labuan Bajo with several cities in Indonesia, such as: Denpasar, Kupang, Ende, and Mataram. With connecting flights, Labuan Bajo is also connected with Kalabahi in Alor. It also connects with Bajawa, Sikka, Manggarai, and Larantuka via Ende, Kupang, Maumere, Ruteng, and Tambolaka. Please go to its website for more detailed flight schedules, here.

Batavia Air has started operating Surabaya-Denpasar-Kupang-Maumere-Kupang flights using B737-200 aircraft. Flights to Maumere are 4 times weekly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. While Merpati Nusantara Airlines flies Kupang-Maumere, and Garuda Indonesia flies only Jakarta-Kupang (on the Island of Timor) from where you can connect on local airlines to Flores.

It is very convenient if you join one of the liveaboards serving Komodo and Flores. Many travelers come home satisfied after a week or longer on one of these around eastern Indonesia, as they get wise enough to choose the package, perfect timing, and best spots. Make sure the time of visit and weather condition fit one another. Never speculate on one aspect that will put you hapless. Once every two weeks, Tilongkabila from PELNI is the ship cruising from Beno, Lembar, and Bima. It also crosses the Java Sea to Sulawesi’s east coast. Tatamailau from the same company plies Maumere, Timor, and West Papua.

Traveling Overland from Labuan Bajo

An overland trip across the Island of Flores is possible but costly. Infrastructures here is limited and so is transportation. Some people rent a seven-seater. If you get enough people to split the cost the price is not so high. Bemos (minibuses) are available. For some destinations the only transport is diesel-powered truck with passengers sitting in the back. The road from Labuan Bajo to Ruteng is especially rough and the uncomfortable jeep-truck-like transport used on it is especially chosen, if not designed, for Flores.

There is no bus terminal in Labuan Bajo. Generally, you need the help of people at your hotel to get a bus ticket to get out and they will get the bus to stop at your hotel to pick you up. Sometimes it takes a while to get the trip goin as the bus goes to this place and that picking up passengers and taking the time to find a place for their baggage.

To reach Ruteng (four hours), the cost would go around IDR 30,000 per person. To Bajawa (ten hours), it will cost you IDR 70,000. The bus departs as early as 6 am. Do not be late. The realy morning is often the only time the bsues leave. To reach Ende takes 15-hour trip, and will cost you IDR 105,000. Some recommend motion sickness pills; it is also a good idea to avoid seats in the way back as you head may hit the roof of the vehicle when it goes over big bumps.

Islands Trips from Labuan Bajo

Komodo National Park and Rinca Island to see Komodo dragons are the primary destinations from Labuan Bajo. Rinca and Komodo Islands are inhabited by Komodo dragons. Many boat trips to see the animals are to Rinca not Komodo because it is closer to Labuan Bajo. A ranger or guide will lead you along a path and show you the best places see the lizards. Female travelers that are having their period are not allowed in Komodo National Park and Komodo Dragon have an acute sense of smell and are attracted to the scent of blood.

Scuba Diving in the national park is said to be amongst the best in the world because of its rich biodiversity. The straits around the islands of Nusa Tenggara are corridors between the southern ocean and the northern part of the globe. Whales, manta rays, sharks, and dolphins and turtles are often seen and many kinds of fish, coral and sea creatures are seen around the reefs. Beware, though, that the ocean currents can sometimes be strong in certain spots and some skill is needed to dive in these places.

Kanawa Island is an idyllic spot with shallow turquoise seas and coral reefs. For only around IDR 200,000 per night you can stay in a nice bungalow on the island. Turtles, reef sharks, and a many types of fish can be seen in the clear waters. Seraya Island is close to Labuan Bajo. During low tide, several coral reefs are exposed and the water is clear for you to snorkel and swim. You can rent a boat and fish and dive from the boat. At dusk, flying fox bats emerge from their sleep at Kalong Island and take wing along the coast. Watching them at sunset is a real treat.

Land Destinations Near Labuan Bajo

Cunca Wulang Waterfalls (30 kilometers from Labuan Bajo) is a beautiful sight and nice place to take a dip. Located at the foothills of Mount Mbeliling about one hour’s drive from Labuan Bajo, it features clear pools, walls of stone and thick forests. In the local language “Cunca” means “waterfall” and “wulang” means “the moon”. The waterfall is near 1,239-meter-high Mt. Mbeliling stands in 26,000 hectares of forests covering its slopes, the largest forested area in Flores. In the area are three waterfalls,: Cunca Wulang, Cunca Rami and Cunca Lolos. Cunca Wulang is reached through an asphalted but winding road to the village of Wersawe, passing local plantations of candlenut (kemiri) trees, vanilla, coffee, cocoa and rice fields. From Wersawe village it is a downward trek to the river valley through thick forests. Once by the river, the powerful rush of the waterfall can be clearly heard, while on the way there one has to step from one stone to the other along the river course.

The return journey is an uphill trek through the forests, which are habitat of the rare scrubfowl (burung gosong). These birds are renowned for their lifelong faithfulness to their one and only partner. They lay their eggs in the sand, so that the eggs are hatched through the heat of the sand rather than by the warmth of the mother hen. These scrubfowls are also found on Rinca island, living in perfect harmony with the komodo dragons, where female dragons are known to use the birdsnests to lay their eggs.

A short distance by car from Wersawe village lies the path to the top of Mt Mbeliling. The trek up leads through forests, which are habitat of some of Flores endemic birds such as the Flores Kehicap, Flores parakeets (serindit), Flores ravens (gagak) and Flores owls (celepuk). These forests are ideal for bird watching. From the top of the Mt. Mbeliling one has a wonderful vista on the Sano Nggoang crater lake, the deepest and largest caldera on Flores, and in the distance the grand view on the Komodo National Park. To get there, you can hire a motorbike for around Rp. 100,000 or a car for Rp. 500,000 to Cunca Wulang. The road is asphalted but is very winding, with some parts in pretty bad condition.

Batu Cermin, or Mirror Rock, is a tunnel and a cave in dark stone hills of Labuan Bajo. Sunshine comes in through a hole in the tunnel and then bounces on the stone walls, reflecting tsmall lights to other areas inside the cave like a mirror. That’s why this site is called mirror rock. The cave is located east of Labuan Bajo harbor some four kilometers from the town’s center. The cave has forests surrounding it where you can find long-tailed monkeys and wild boar.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Indonesia Tourism website ( indonesia.travel ), Indonesia government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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