Kelimutu lakes are one of the most beautiful sights in Indonesia and one of the reasons why I would recommend you to spend some time on Flores rather than only staying around the Komodo Islands. The national park itself is well-known by many for its 3 forever-shifting tri-colored volcanic lakes that are situated 1,639 m above sea-level on top of a mountain. Now, knowing where to go on Flores is half of the adventure. The other half is knowing how to get there and that is why I decided to write this guide. Here is everything you need to know to get to Kelimutu lakes and hike up at sunrise.
A Road to Kelimutu Map
When to Go to Kelimutu
Indonesia's dry season runs from May to September and are the best time to travel in Flores. It will also be more crowded but you are likely to have clear weather which is essential if you want to travel around the mountain region of Flores like Moni. The weather changes fast in Moni so I would recommend going up at sunrise or as early as you can.
Where to Stay in Moni
Ende - Berlian Hotel - 19.00 USD/Night (Standard Double Room)
New and clean with good facilities and excellent value for money. It is also located only a few kilometers away from the airport.
Moni - Mahoni Guesthouse - 24.00 USD/Night (Double Room with Private Shower)
Located right on the main street, near a lively restaurant and cafe. It is also the only place with a hot shower which is very hard to come by in the remote village of Moni. The night gets really cold so trust me, you will appreciate having it. Book in advance as they only have 4 rooms and it gets booked really fast.
This place is quite cheap compare to all the other countries in the world. If you are planning a trip here, you can expect to pay around 25 - 45 USD per day per person and that should include accommodation and 3 meals.
Keep in mind that this is just a suggested daily budget based on my style of traveling, which is leaning more toward the budget side of things. If you want to stick to this budget, expect to sleep in dorms, eat out only a few times, and be comfortable using the cheapest and most convenient way of transportation, which often times involves walking.
No WIFI available anywhere in Moni so if you want to stay connected, be sure to have a local sim card with you. I highly recommended the one from Telkomsel and you will have no problem getting connected in Moni. Read more about data and sim cards in Indonesia here.
If you are looking for a travel insurance to go along with your trip to Flores, Indonesia, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for a travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure. They have a simple and flexible search system that allowed me to find the right insurance for the right amount of time at an affordable price in seconds. If you need a travel insurance, give WorldNomads.com a try.
How to Get to Kelimutu
Getting to Ende
Kelimutu lakes are located in the eastern part of Flores island and there are 2 cities with airports you can fly into, Ende and Maumere. Ende is a little closer and so I would recommend you start your journey to Kelimutu from there.
Getting to Ende is not too difficult. If you are coming from elsewhere, there are regular flights coming from Bali directly to Ende and Maumere so you can fly into these cities.
If you are just finishing up your Komodo island trip in Labuan Bajo and you want the fastest way possible to travel to Kelimutu, there are several cheap flights you can take to Ende for as low as 30 USD one way via Wings Air or Garuda Airline.
If you want to travel on-land through Flores, you can take a bus from Labuan Bajo to Ende. It is a long journey so I would recommend you split the trip and stop in Ruteng and Bajawa before arriving in Ende and then head over to Maumere after Kelimutu to take a flight back. Ruteng and Bajawa are really worth stopping.
If you want to book a flight, try searching on Skyscanner or Momondo for "H. Hasan Aroeboesman Airport" or "ENE" and compare prices between airlines. Either you are coming from Bali or Labuan Bajo, you will find plenty of cheap domestic flights to Ende on Skyscanner or Momondo.
Getting to Moni
Once you are in Ende, there are several ways you can get to Moni, the closest village to the mountain.
If you are arriving on a plane, you will likely be arriving around 3 PM and right off the gate, there will see some staffs trying to group people together and when they do, they will issue a private taxi that goes directly to Moni from the airport. This is the fastest way and it can be done easily by finding some people from your flight and share the cost of the private taxi. It should cost you around 30 - 35 USD (450,000 - 500,000 IDR) per car and it should take you around 2 hours to get to Moni.
The problem with this plan is that if you do not have any guesthouses reserved like I did, you will arrive late with most guesthouses in Moni fully booked. Not many guesthouses are available to be reserved online so you will either have to book it through a travel agency or call them up directly. Rest assured though, even if the guesthouses are all booked, there are always friendly locals that will open their homes to you for a price.
The recommended way is to stay one night in Ende, a nice little town with an authentic feel to it, freshen up, have a nice Nasi Ayam at Sari Rasa (best chicken rice ever) and early in the morning, take a local bus, a bemo or a shared car to Moni.
- Shared cars are the fastest and most comfortable way to get to Moni. You will be sharing a Toyota Innova (Kijang) with a bunch of locals. It should cost you around 40,000 IDR and will take around 2.5 hours to Moni.
- Bemos are small vans that run through the island. For 20,000 IDR. you will be there in 3 hours.
- Local buses are the most authentic way to travel but not as reliable and are quite slow. It will cost you around 30,000 IDR and you will be there in 3 hours.
Getting to Kelimutu from Moni
There are a few ways you can get to Kelimutu from Moni. You can rent your own motorbike and ride up the road, rented a motorbike + driver (O-jek), or rented a jeep with a driver. It should take around 45 minutes to get from Moni to Kelimutu.
If you rent your own motorbike, you will have to drive up the mountainous road yourself and some parts are still under maintenance due to several landslides so be cautious. You can rent a motorbike from many of the guesthouses along the main road and it should cost you around 125,000-150,000 IDR for a day.
If you don't want to drive yourself, you can get a motorbike + driver (O-Jek) from any of the guesthouses and they will drive you up to the entrance and wait for you. This is the one I personally picked and it cost me 120,000 - 250,000 IDR for both ways.
If you are not traveling alone, you can also hire a jeep + driver to take you there. You will be paying around 350,000 IDR for a round trip.
You can also choose one of this transportation for one way and then walk back to save cost. It will take you around 3 hours to walk back down from Kelimutu to Moni.
Tips for Visiting Kelimutu
Go at Sunrise
Go at surise so that you are likely to have a clear sky. The clouds often rolled in in the afternoon so you are less likely to have a nice view then.
Do not visit on Sundays or Public Holidays
Do not visit on Sundays or Public Holidays because you will be charged more for the entrance fee then if you visited Kelimutu on weekdays. You will be charged 150,000 IDR on weekdays and 250,000 IDR on Sundays and public holidays.
Ask for your driver's phone number
Ask for your driver's phone number if you have hired a driver for the sunrise as you will be leaving at 4 AM and there were many tourists who their drivers didn't show up. Mine almost didn't show up so be sure to get the number to call them up when things like this happen.
Wait until the sun shines on the lakes
Wait until the sun shines on the lakes before you leave because the colors of the lakes are most vibrant when the sun is higher up in the sky. Plus, there will be considerably less people now.
Don't stay at the viewpoint only
Go walk around the area off the fence to find a quieter spot as it can be quite crowded up there especially during the sunrise. Don't let the crowds ruin your trip, and find a quiet place and watch the sunrise.
Grab your Jackets
Layer up especially if you are planning to visit Kelimutu at sunrise. It is quite chilly up there so prepare a fleece and a wind-breaker jacket when hiking up the mountain.
Have Sturdy Shoes
Prepare sturdy shoes as you will be hiking for about 15 - 30 minutes before you reach the viewpoint. Most of the trail is paved but if you want to go off the beaten path, you will need good shoes to do so.
Do not feed the monkeys
They are still nice and well-behaved here unlike in Bali. They will become more aggressive the more you feed them as they will expect food from people and they will start stealing.
And there you have it. A comprehensive guide on how to get to Kelimutu. Are you planning a trip to Indonesia? If you have any questions regarding traveling in Indonesia feel free to let me know in the comments below.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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