It does feel good to go hiking up a mountain and sitting by a caldera on top of it. After a hard walk, you get to breathe in the fresh air while offering your eyes something nice to see. In Kelimutu, this kind of enjoyment will go triple up higher as the there are three lakes on it. And the most interesting is each lake has different colors. Such an unusual view to see!
Lake Kelimutu is on the top of Mount Kelimutu which is a part of Mount Kelimutu National Park located in Flores. To get to Flores, you can catch a plane from Bali or Kupang to Maumere. From Maumere, you need to continue going to Moni, small town which is the closest to Mount Kelimutu. Moni is said to be the gate of Mount Kelimutu.
There are several options to reach Moni from Maumere. First is by taking a public bus to Ende. Tell the driver to drop you off at Moni. You can also use the ojek, the motorcycle taxi which is commonly found in airport or village. Or, the easiest option is to rent a car and drive to the Mount Kelimutu parking lot. Rent a car with personal driver is not hard to find at the airport. The trip from Maumere to Moni usually takes up three hours.
It is impossible to go to Kelimutu without staying the night there. The long trip and the tiresome hike will require some sleep for you to regain your energy back. And about that, there are several options of accommodation during offered to you:
- Local Huts in Moni
Backpackers usually love simplicity and local culture. To this, Moni has provided several simple huts constructed with local engineering and material. Staying at these huts will give you unique experience and more advanced atmosphere of nature adventure.
- Kelimutu Crater Ecolodge
Ecolodge is only 20 minutes from Mount Kelimutu National Park. This ecolodge is a unique accommodation where you can enjoy hot shower and comfortable bed room with the view of Mount Kelimutu National Park. The room rate for this resort-like ecolodge starts from $52.5. Kelimutu Crater Ecolodge is the most perfect option for honeymoon.
- Budget Hotels in Moni
If living in a local hut is too uncomfortable for you and the ecolodge is too expensive, then you would really enjoy staying in a budget hotel. In Moni, there are several bungalows and guesthouse with the ranging from $11.25 to 22.5.
- Hotels in Ende
If you are out of hotels in Moni, you can go to Ende, the nearby town which is still close to Mount Kelimutu. The small town also has several comfortable hotels to stay in.
- Hotels in Maumere
If you do not wish to stay in the village, you can book your hotels in Maumere where the city has better facilities and amenities.
As mentioned above, there are three crater lakes in Mount Kelimutu. These lakes are unique because the water on it may change colors from time to time. There is no specific pattern or schedule about when the water will change colors even with many researches had done by the scientists. They believe this phenomenon is caused by subaqueous fumaroles but they cannot be sure about the details.
The colors of the three lakes are usually always different, even though those are located very close to each other. In fact, the two lakes are standing side by side, sharing the same crater wall between it. But the water never shows the same colors. The color ranges are unusual as well. It may change around light green, dark green, blue, turquoise, chocolate brown, grey, red, or even black.
There is no formal name for each lake. Those are named locally. Local people believe that these lakes are the place for departed souls to rest. Each kind of soul has its own lake to rest. One lake is for old people’s soul, one other is for the young people and maiden, while the last lake is a resting place for evil sipirits.
The top west lake is called Tiwu Ata Mbupu which means “The Lake of Old People”. This lake is located slightly further with the other two lakes. The color is usually blue or black. The one in the middle is called Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai which means “The Lake of Young People and Maiden”. This lake usually has light colors such as turquoise or light blue. The last one in the top east is Tiwu Ata Polo which means “The Lake of Evil Spirit”. This lake has the most extreme color changing. Mostly it is light green, red, or dark brown. Tiwu Ata Polo is side by side with Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai. These two lakes are only separated with a thin crater wall.
Because the lakes are located on the mountain top inside a national park, then trekking is a must-do activity in Kelimutu. Inside the national park, you have the chance to see 19 endemic and endangered species such as Floresian punai, Wallacea owl, Floresian kancilan, Floresian eagle, Timorese tesia, several endemic mice, deer, and porcupines. You also have the chance to see luwak, a species of civet which is famous for producing the best coffee in the world, Coffee Luwak.
As for the flora, the national park is dominated with pines. There are also casuarinas, red wood, and edelweiss. Mount Kelimutu National Park has beautiful nature because the volcano makes the soil fertile. Thus, many kinds of plants are able to live well on it. But local people believe that it was the departed souls who cause the fertility of the soil in order to keep local people to live in harmony. That is why they take Mount Kelimutu as a sacred place.
To go exploring the forest area of Mount Kelimutu National Park, you must be guided by a professional who understand the national park perfectly. There are many areas inside the forest which are dangerous to explore hence restricted.
At the foot of Mount Kelimutu, there are many fields managed by local people of Moni. The fields offer beautiful scenery to see. Besides enjoying the view, you can also go around the village to see the life of Moni people. They are usually friendly to tourists.
- The best time to see the lakes is at the very morning, when the sun starts to rise. Tourists usually start hiking at 03.30 in the morning so they have enough time to enjoy the sunrise at the lakes.
- The peak season to visit Kelimutu is around July to August because the weather is perfect around that time.
- Always book your hotel early if you plan to travel during high season.
- Do not forget to explore the local culinary in Flores as there are plenty delicious foods and beverages to taste.
Hiking Mount Kelimutu to see these wonderful lakes is not difficult. The location is not too high and the track is not difficult either. In fact, pathways with cemented steps and railings have been prepared to make it easier for tourists to reach the lake. Therefore, even kids can go there. It is perfect for family picnic.