Komodo National Park was established in 1980 and was declared a World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1986. The park was initially established to conserve the unique Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), first discovered by the scientific world in 1911 by J.K.H. Van Steyn. Since then conservation goals have expanded to protecting its entire biodiversity, both marine and terrestrial.
The park includes the three larger islands Komodo, Padar and Rinca, and 26 smaller ones, with a total area of 1,733 km² (603 km² of it land). The national park was founded in 1980 to protect the Komodo dragon, the world's largest lizard. Later it was dedicated to protecting other species, including marine species. In 1991 the national park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and later as Man and Biosphere Reserve
PULAU RINCA is originated from an erupted mountain which happened some thousand years back. This is one of islands in Komodo National Park territories. All traveler come to this island to see the Giant lizard 'Komodo Dragon'.
A boat trip from Labuan Bajo take about two hours, the tour operators at Labuan Bajo arrange this trip according to how many peoples on board, it is in the range of 3 to 4 peoples using small boat up to 10 to 15 peoples using large boats.
The entrance gate at Pulau Rinca would be LOH BUAYA, then register to the office of Komodo National Parks administrator, pay an entrance fee and then tracking the island in one or two hours which escorting by a ranger.
Keep silent during the trip, take some pictures of dry savannah, much pictures of Komodo Dragon, beautiful scenery of blue ocean, mountain range and pristine beaches with mangrove woods
Pulau KOMODO is one of most big island in Komodo National Parks, the home of giant lizard 'Komodo Dragon' , an endemic species with small population and now Komodo island is one of special island to conserve this nearly in extinction Varanus komodoensis.
It takes about 4 hours to reach the island by boating from Labuan Bajo Pier at West Manggarai.
An entarnce gate to Komodo island is LOH LIANG, the boats anchor at Loh Liang Bay then a small boat pick the attendants to Loh Liang Pier. Pay an official rate fee at the board of Narional Park.
Exploring a small parts of the island is guided by a experienced rangers, one group of traveler is guide by one ranger.
The tracks is one hour for short distance and two hours for long distance.
Take so many pictures as much as you can, the mountain ranges with dry savannah and white sandy beaches is really beauty, the Komodo Dragon and other wild animals is also fascinating
ENDE is a district under the Nusa Tenggara Timur Province administration, with the capital town ENDE city located at the southern of Flores Shorelines....ENDE long long ago wass recognized as former Flores capital city....a small town where Indonesia First President Soekarno was exiled by the Dutch Goverment in 1933 when Indonesia under the Dutch Colony.
Ende was also an entrance gate to Kelimutu National Parks with its three craters color lake
Todo village is part of Satarmese Barat sub-district, West Manggarai district. I visited Todo village on my way to Wae Rebo village. From Ruteng, it was around 50 kilometer or 1.5 hour driving in the direction of Golo Lusang.
Before entering the Todo village, the visitor should fill in the guest book and leave donation in the tourism office. Titus Jegadut was the staff of tourism department in charge during my visit in September 2012. He explained brief history of the village, as well as local conduct when entering the village.
I was asked to wear traditional Ikat (weaving) that was provided at his office for small donation. If I wanted to buy the Ikat, I could pay Rp 250,000 and the entrance would be free. The tour began from the Banyan tree that is located opposite of the village. We passed the old cannon that was from the Dutch colonial era.
Titus told me that Todo was the kingdom in Manggarai before. But, during the Dutch colonial era, the leader of Todo was chosen by the Dutch (in 1930). This was also caused controversy in the Flores community in the past.
Before, there were nine traditional houses in Todo village (drum house or Mbaru Gendang). Today, there is only one left with poor condition. There was plan from the government to restore the houses and the area, but none knows when it would be happening.
Another interesting story of Todo village is a legend about a beautiful girl living in the past that was fought over between two powerful men. To make the story short, later the girl was sacrificed to the spirit by killing her in the altar. so that both parties didn't get the girl. Part of her skin (stomach) is made to cover the traditional drum name Gendang Tutung. The drum is still stored in the village, but to see this, the visitor has to pay quite large amount of money for ritual ceremony.
Todo village today is a quiet little village. I found there were more women and children in the village, and only few men. Titus said this was because of mostly men working abroad in Malaysia or Singapore as labor.
One of my favorite areas in Labuan Bajo is the hill in Binongko area. The place is particularly beautiful for watching sunset. Binongko beach is also nice, although the beach is not yet popular as Pede beach that is relatively near the town. To reach Binongko area is either following the road from Golo Hilltop or from the road near the Komodo airport where the government buildings are there.
Climb the small hill in this area. I think the area is probably private land belongs to somebody here. The trek is grassy and steep. From this spot you have open view to Labuan Bajo harbour and islands near Labuan Bajo. I love the golden sun at 5-6 pm in this area.
It's nice to go to Cunca Wulang cascade in the morning to enjoy refreshing walk and cool water for swimming. Cunca Wulang is located around 30 kilometer from Labuan Bajo via Trans Flores highway to Ruteng. In Cekonobo (near Mbeliling area), turn left and follow the road. You will find visitor center where you need to fill in the guest book and leave small donation. From here, you can start to walk, or drive until the starting point of the forest.
During my visit in September 2012, there was road construction from the visitor center to the starting point of the forest. From here, it takes less than 1 kilometer to reach the waterfall. The trek is mild and nice, although the mosquitos were attacking me along the way.
Swimming in the area is very nice, although under water the visibility is very limited. The formation of boulder is very nice and you can also enjoy dipping in the small streams.
Golo means hill in Manggarai languange. Golo Curu means "Welcome Hill". I love this area!. This location is relatively still in Ruteng town in the north. The beautiful scenery of Ruteng with background of mountains, rice fields and settlements can be found here. You can walk from the main road to the top of the hill where church and Maria cave are located. There is cemetery here where I think is one of the best spot for taking picture. The best time to shoot is in the morning 6 to 8 am.
It is easy to reach Golo Curu. From center of Ruteng, you can head to Reo direction. Once you see the bridge, turn left and follow the small road. You can go here with car and motorcycle. Although this area is very nice spot for morning walk or jogging.
The Lingko or rice field is Interesting land division using traditional system of the Manggarai culture. The triangular shape is look like a pie slice from above. If you want to see the spider web rice field, be prepare to climb the hill in Cara Village, 16 kilometer from Ruteng. The viewing point is actually a private land belongs to Blasius Nogot. From the hill, you can see at least there are eight spider webs. According to Blasius, this symbolizes number of the village. His family also owns the rice field inside the system known as Lodok.
The opening of new Lodok will include series of traditional ritual, including sacrifice water buffalo and pigs. The community leader (Tuo Teno) has the authority to divide the land into triangular shape. The measurement starts from the inner center of the land to the outside. Every family in the village has a right to own and work inside the Lodok system, depending on the size of the family. More information on this, you can visit http://www.florestourism.com/where-to-go/cancar-%E2%80%93-spider-web-rice-fields.
With frequent visitors entering his property, now Blasius family provides guest book. Small donation is appreciated. Don’t forget to bring bottle water when you climb the hill. It was a short climb, but enjoying the scenery on the top of the hill with breezy wind is really nice.
Liang Bua in the Manggarai language means a “cold cave” (Liang means cave and Bua means cold). The cave is situated in Rampassa hamlet, 14 kilometer northwest from Ruteng.
Entering the cave, I could relate to the human living before me. If I lived 10,000 years ago and had no technology to build the house, the Liang Bua cave is an idyllic settlement for me and my tribe. According to the brochure, the cave is 50 meter long, 40 meter wide and 15 meter high. The cave is spacious, airy and dry. It is close to the river as source of the clean water and the location of the cave is relatively hidden in the hill.
In 1940, the cave was used by the Catholic mission as an elementary school for local people. But Father Theodore Verhoeven, a Dutch colonial missionary based in Ngada, during his first visit to the cave, immediately recognized the potential of the cave to be the human settlement in the past. The official excavation in the cave was conducted in 1965. Father Verhoeven and team found numbers of stone artifacts, pottery, as well as several human burials.
Since then, the research has been conducted in the cave. The on-going scientific work in the cave has involved multi-disciplines specialists such as archeology, palaeoanthropology, paleontology, geology and many others. This is also collaborative research works between the government of Indonesia and the foreign governments.
In 2004, the scientists made discovery by found a relatively complete skeleton of the human that is known as Homo Floresiensis. The height of the skeleton is only 1 meter height, although the research suggested that the skeleton was a human adult. (The similarity is perhaps reminding people to the hobbit in the movie). The skeleton had extremely small brains (400cc), much smaller than the brain volume of modern human, with the weight between 20 to 30 kilogram and predicted to live between 10,000 to 95,000 years ago.
With the discovery of Homo Floresiensis, more questions to the life of Flores in the past have emerged. The discovery of the remaining pieces buried underneath Flores land is hopefully reveal answers to the life in the ancient Flores.
The scientists continue to work in the Liang Bua cave and other parts in the Flores Island. Although they are busy, but I am very thankful that they spare time to answer questions from the visitors to the cave. (Thanks to Pak Jatmiko, Pak Sis, Pak Rokus Due Awe—he is Father Verhoeven’s student and Matthew Tocheri)
When I visited, there was no entrance ticket, but when I left, the man asked me to fill in the guest book and asked for small donation.
Labuan Bajo is located in the western part of Flores. This little town is getting busier in later years. Since Komodo has been entered into New 7 Wonders of Nature competition, the national tourism department reported that visitors to Flores has been increased. Labuan Bajo is the main hub for visitors before setting off to sail to the Komodo National Park.
Visitors come to Flores usually starts or end their trip in Labuan Bajo. Usually visitors come from Denpasar, Bali. It takes only 40 minutes flying. Some people prefer sail either from Benoa, Bali or Lombok. Visitors can also use ferry from Sumbawa Island by crossing Selat Sape (Sape sea).
No wonder now Labuan Bajo sees rapid development than other places in Flores. In Pantai Pedeh for example, new hotels and resorts have been built, many new restaurants open, new karaoke and bars, hotels and bungalows are now also operated by foreigners. For me, I saw more tourists here than any other place in Flores. Although most people I met went to Labuan Bajo for diving and sail to Komodo. The new multicultural visitors in Labuan Bajo has given little burst of cosmopolitan taste to the sleepy town of Labuan Bajo.
Jalan Soekarno Hatta, a main road in Labuan Bajo, is dotted with travel agents offering trip to Komodo island or exploring little islands surround Labuan Bajo, as well as tour package for Flores overland.
My favorite spots in Labuan Bajo is hills in the new road that has not yet completed (from Golo Hills Top straight). This is nice spot to enjoy sunset. I also like Pantai Pedeh area for jogging in the morning. In the evening, I like traditional warungs selling barbecue fish near the market. It's nice to wait for the sunset and watching fishermen return from the sea.
Although the temperature can be very hot in Labuan Bajo, I still love this place.
Pulau Rinca is the second biggest island of the islands in the Komodo National Park. This is also the closest island from Labuan Bajo to see Komodo in their natural habitat. It takes around two hour boat trip from Labuan Bajo. You can join organized day trip to Pulau Rinca offered by many travel agents in Labuan Bajo.
Trip to Komodo Island takes longer time, therefore tour packages usually offer two days-three night trip that includes living overboard, diving or snorkeling, visiting Pulau Rinca then Pulau Komodo. But if you have limited time, a day trip to Pulau Rinca plus snorkeling in the nearby small islands is also possible.
In my trip I rented a boat from a friend of mine and went to Pulau Rinca. We left at 7 am and arrived at Loh Buaya, Pulau Rinca at 9 am. At the entrance gate, there were group of rangers greeted me and accompanied me to the visitor center. At the visitor center, I need to pay entrance fee, guide/ranger service and camera. I paid Rp 77,500 for entrance fee, guide and camera (Fee September 2012). They have list of cost for various purposes of the visitors, for example if you are researcher or film maker wishes to make documentary film about Komodo, the cost is usually higher. There is also different entrance ticket fee for Indonesian and foreigners.
According to the Komodo National Park information, Komodo population in Pulau Rinca is around 1,000. It is a little less than in Pulau Komodo (1,200 Komodo). There are two villages in Pulau Rinca, Kampung Rinca (population 900) and Kampung Kerora (population 500). My ranger, Ridwan is originally from Kampung Rinca. He used to see Komodo strolled freely in his village.
The first Komodo encounter was at the entrance to the forest. There were eight Komodo laying under the wooden-house. Ridwan told us it was because the cooking aroma from the kitchen. It is forbidden to feed Komodo. The exception was only for a Komodo lost to a battle and broken its right foot. The injured Komodo could no longer hunt for the food and now is regularly fed by the rangers.
There are three treks offered in Pulau Rinca. Short, medium and long. I took a long track with distance of 5 kilometer (Garmin measure). You are likely to meet Komodo in the beginning of the trek. But I found scenery in long trek was interesting. We passed by forest, skeleton of animals, hills and enjoying the bay view.
As I took my time to enjoy the scenery and looking around, I was lucky to find Komodo digging nest. We stopped by there for nearly two hours, observing every move, admiring the magnificent creature. There was another Komodo came to the nest and fight was inevitable. The problem with Komodo’s fighting, they can run in all direction. Watch their head closely to see where it will be heading. But once, we were wrong and had to flee as they run closely toward our observation spot.
If you want to experience sleeping in the drum house, Manggarai traditional house, be a part of traditional village life, enjoying the sky with thousand of stars and feeling the time stands still…..And if you don’t mind to walk two to four hours through the forest, hills and crossing the rivers, as well as living a simple life….. if those things are not too much for you, then you may want to consider to visit Wae Rebo village. The Wae Rebo village is situated in Satarmese Barat sub-district, West Manggarai District. Four hours driving from Labuan Bajo or in my case three hours driving from Ruteng.
You need at least to spare two to three days minimum if you want to visit Wae Rebo village. Consider to calculate driving and hiking time to reach the village, as well as time to go around the village. So, I should say two days spare minimum.
In my visit in beginning September 2012, I spent night at Denge village, then setting off to Wae Rebo village the morning after. Due to growing number of visitors the last three years, Wae Rebo people started to organize themselves. Now, there is guide and porter available with standard price. (my porter costs Rp 75,000/day. I paid Rp 150,000 for back and forth trip). A night in the Mbaru Niang, a traditional house that shape like a drum costs Rp 225,000/day. This was set by the villagers as they will also serve three times meals and coffee or tea for the visitor. Expect to pay small amount of money in the traditional welcome ceremony as “offering” to the ancestors. I will share more about Wae Rebo in “Off the beaten path” and “local custom tips” section.
This is a natural and simple version of spa that most of us use to know. I found having dipped in Mengeruda hot spring is refreshing. The pool is surrounded by the trees. It is nice to have a dip in the evening, though I was quite amazed by 10pm the pool was still crowded.
Very close to the spring, there is small waterfall with warm water. It is comfortable to sit and feel water pressure work on your body. The air is fresh and water is very clean. My recommended time to be in this place is either really early in the morning or in the evening where you can enjoy quiet times. My favorite is by 7 am in the morning where the place is felt like a private spa .
The spring is located in Mengeruda village. From Bajawa town, you need to drive around 25 kilometer or less than one hour. You will pass by a small strip airport of Bajawa. Don’t be hesitate to ask around. Usually people know that you go to this place either for hot spring.
Bena village is one of the most popular traditional villages in Bajawa. To reach Bena village is relatively easy, either by public transportation and even easier when you use rental car. The village is situated around 16 km from the town city center.
Entering Bena Village for the first time, I took my time to admiring the neat of the village. The formation of big stones (megalithic), the neat row of 45 houses built in the sideline with the mighty Inarie mountain at the back, it gave me a dash of surreal feeling.
You will notice the square, sort of plaza bordered by the stones in the middle of the village. Two traditional wooden huts stand there in the middle. The huts symbolize male and female. The square is used for the village ceremony.
Take time to explore the village, visiting traditional house and talk to the people. I found that their custom in building traditional house is really fascinating. It involves series of ceremony, material collections from years before, organizing work of villagers then another commemoration ceremony when the house is completed (Ka Sao ceremony). In the house you can also find skeleton of water buffalo and pigs that function as decoration and part of the tradition ritual.
You can also buy traditional Ikat woven. When visiting the village, you can see mostly women work on their woven. I love to listen to the story of how the Ikat is produced. This is real hard work of the handy craft! The women use natural dye ingredients such as indigo leaves for dark blue color or curcumae for yellow. It takes a month to produce thread from the cotton plant and a week to dye the thread. The motive and pattern of the textile require calculation and thorough planning before you actually start to weave. Interesting!
The price of the textile starts from Rp 60,000 to Rp 800,000 or more. It depends on the complicated of the fabric pattern and its work, or whether the sarong is used for daily or ceremony. The sarong price for ceremony is usually higher.
When visiting Bena, visitors will be asked to fill-in guest book and pay donation.
Further direction to reach Bena: