Labuanbajo left us somewhat underwhelmed after the excitement filled days spent on our boat trip, somewhat similar to a post festival hangover blues. It was time for us to move on, not only because our shoebox room was the worst value in the whole of Indonesia but because the famed tri-coloured crater lakes at the summit of Gunung Kelimutu awaited us just a short distance down through the Flores island. Luckily for us this journey was made much shorter by flying to Ende and then catching a driver from there for a very reasonable rate, saving us a 24 hour drive along the twisting rutted trans Flores highway. It is on this road that Moni, the picturesque base town for visits to Kelimutu, lies.
We stayed in the recommended traveller haunt Bintang Lodge perched in a beautiful situation just off the road with perfect views of the important volcano. Unfortunately our room was dreadful, the only real stinker of our stay in Indonesia in fact. Tiny box room with sinky bed, doorless bathroom, the feeling of literally living in the owners bedroom (walls made of little more than cardboard) and to top it all off we found our socks riddled with holes confirming our suspicions that it wasn't just the landlady who we were sharing our room with. We have loved staying in home stays throughout Indonesia but neither was this advertised as one nor was any respect paid to us staying there, chatting on the porch chairs outside our room at 5am was too much. Thank god it was cheap. And thank Mother Nature for the beauty of Mount Kelimutu and it's incredible crater lakes.
After chartering a bemo (little public minibus with sideways bus seats) to get us up to the lake site and a few hundred metres was the awe inspiring lakes filled with water so richly coloured it looks as if someone threw paint in and stirred.
In fact the colours are formed by the dissolving of natural minerals in to the crater lakes, and the sun also accounts for the 'chameleonic colour scheme' they posses. The lakes themselves also formed by the eruption of Kelimutu a long time ago, they also hold spiritual significance for locals who believe that different spirits of adults, children and bad people descended to each of the different lakes upon death, sinners obviously to the dark black/green lake.
We descended the summit half by bemo and half on foot, although you can walk the whole way in the midday heat we preferred the shorter scenic route, through local villages, beautiful rice paddies and a spectacular waterfall where I couldn't help but take the jump in to the volcanic spring water with the local kids. The waterfall we also discovered was of great importance to locals who washed both themselves and clothes in the running water.
We later took a walk through the village only to be greeted by yet more beautiful scenery and friendly children at every turn who demanded we take a photo of/with them 'portrait mistahhhh'. It was sweet and has has been a theme through almost all of Indonesia, the friendliness of people was overwhelming.
Unbelievable crater lakes, beautiful mountainous scenery, friendly and vibrant local community, our time visiting Kelimutu was certainly worth the trip, just a shame about the room. (a scathing trip advisor has duly been left so you can sleep in peace).