Diary from my holiday in Flores, Indonesia.
Day 1: Dili – Bali
Today I flew from Dili to Bali, arriving at around 1:30. After I checked into my accommodation for the night in Kuta, I went for a walk along the beach and to the mall/ markets. After having a look around the area I went back to the beach to watch the sunset. After the sunset I had dinner at a Mexican restaurant. On the way back to my motel I passed a massage place that had a fish spa outside. $5 for 20 min of fish-eating the dead skin on your feet, how could I resist. After my fish spa I bought some snacks for the next day and went back to the motel for the night. My room only had a fan, no air con, was pretty scungy and the pillows were all lumpy. for only $10 for the night though can I really complain?
Day 2: Bali – Labuan Bajo
After one of the worst sleeps in a long time (Hot, noisy and uncomfortable), I woke at 4:30 am and read in bed for a while before I had to get up. This morning I was flying to Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia. My flight was at 8 am and lasted just over an hour. The reason I chose to come here for a holiday is because it is very close to Komodo Island where you can find Komodo dragons! After I landed I walked to my accommodation as it was only 600m down the road. Once checked in etc. I then walked into town, which was further away than I thought. After a very sweaty 20 min walk I was on the main street. Labuan Bajo is a really cute seaside town with a frontier-feel. Here on the main street there are mainly restaurants, AliExpress-type stores and tourist agencies. My mission on this walk was to book a trip to go see the Komodo dragons the next day. There were so many people offering Komodo tours it made it hard to pick! I walked all the way down the main street and back trying to decide who to go with. From what I could gather they all offered pretty much the same package so it wouldn’t really make a difference which one I chose. After the long walk it was time for lunch, I found a cute Italian place with a harbour view and got some pasta.
After lunch I booked the first trip that said yes, a relief to have it booked! One of the locals then asked me if I wanted him to show me around a few of the sights nearby. As I didn’t have any plans that afternoon I was happy to be given a tour. We went to some caves, a few scenic lookouts, nice swimming spot and then to watch the most incredible sunset I’ve ever seen! I then had dinner and went back to my hotel for the night.
Day 3: Komodo Dragon Trip
Today I woke up at 4:20 AM to then walk down to the wharf meeting at 5:15 AM. The boat left at 6:00 and there were 8 others on it. The first stop was 2 hrs away and in this time I got to watch the sunrise and just chill, taking in all the beautiful scenery. Padar Island was stop number 1, this is an island with 3 beaches that all have different coloured sand. the sand is pink, black and white. there is a walk up one end of the island where you get to a point that you can see all three beaches at once.
We spent about an hour on this island and then it was off to Komodo Island to see the dragons. Once at Komodo Island we got a guided walk around some of the trails while on the look out for the dragons. In total I saw 3 Komodo dragons which were all on the smaller side, ~1m long. Though I kind of expected to see more, it was still amazing. I did not realise that it was mating season which means you are less likely to see them. Also they are out in their natural habitat and you can’t control them!
The next stop on this trip was to the pink sand beach that we had earlier seen from above. This was definitely the worst of the 4 stops for me. Here, it was supposed to be amazing snorkeling but compared to Fiji and Timor-Leste it just wasn’t great! Other aspects that let it down for me were; the water was cold (Not quite Dunedin cold but not far off!), my snorkel was not letting me breath and my GoPro wasn’t working! The stop at pink beach was pretty short (which was good) so next was the Manta Rays! Everyone hopped back into the boat and we had a boat ride of about 30 minutes to a place called Manta Point. As soon as the boat stopped here we spotted a Manta Ray. They often swim at the surface breaking the water and allowing you to see them. After we had seen a few swim by I jumped in the water trying to get as close as I could without disturbing it (luckily I got my GoPro working before jumping in so video to come!). This stop was quite possibly my favourite. Although I had seen them before in Fiji, the ones in Fiji swam against the current, which essentially meant to keep up with them you had to swim against the current aswell. Here in Flores, there was little to no current present and we saw many more Rays. The general snorkelling here was also better, in my opinion compared to the pink beach. After spending some time with these majestic creatures it was time to go back to land. One 90 minute boat ride later, joined with some time idling in the water as they fixed the boat.. and we were back at the port. I then watched the sunset, had dinner and then went back to my hotel where I crashed pretty early after an awesome but very tiring day.
Day 4: Labaun Bajo – Ende
Today was mainly filled with travel. After checking out of my hotel I went into town to find something for lunch and maybe some souvenirs. I found a nice mediterranean place to eat but no luck with the souvineers. I went to the airport early afternoon and sat and waited for ages as the flight had been delayed about an hour. finally the speakers were saying something but they were not clear at all and I couldn’t understand which flight they were calling for. For the first time, and I’m sure not last, my name got called over the speakers to hurry up and get my arse into the plane. whoops! After a short flight over Flores I arrived at Ende, a place on the south coast of Flores. I had arranged for a driver to pick me up from the airport as the place I was staying was called Moni and around 1.5 hrs away. I also shared the ride with a German girl, which halved the fare, always good! By the time I was at my accommodation it was dark. This placed I had booked through AirBnB and it was much like the place in Bali, but also very cheap! After dinner and hanging out with one of the guys from the Komodo trip the previous day I had yet another early night as I had a VERY early start in the morning.
Day 5: Mt Kelimutu & Ende – Kupang
This morning I woke up at 3:40 to be picked up at 4:00 am. Today’s mission was to see the crater lakes of Mount Kelimutu. After driving up a mountain for an hour and a half we were at the top (almost). My driver parked his car and it was then up to me to find these lakes in the dark with not really knowing what I was looking for. Luckily I met 3 others, a Scottish/ Swiss couple and their local guide. As it was very apparent these guys knew what they were doing I was very quick to join them in the walk to the lakes. After many stairs in the pitch black we made it to the top. Here there were many local ladies that had come up very early (like even earlier than 5:30?!) who were setting up tea, coffee and biscuits to sell to the freezing tourists. The top of this mountain was very cold! I had been warned, but alas did not come prepared. As it was still dark all we could do now was wait for the sun to rise which was incredible.
Once there was more light we could start to see the lakes. Although it was very cloudy and the colours were not as vibrant as they would be on a clear day it was amazing. There are 3 crater lakes which are all different colours and even change colour sometimes. The lakes are light blue, dark blue and black.
After enjoying the views for a couple of hours I decided to walk back down the mountain with the people I had met earlier. This walk took about 2 and a half hours and was about 14 km. At the bottom we found a waterfall and small hot springs which was lovely to sit in after hours of walking in the misty mountains. After enjoying a natural bath I said goodbye to my newly found friends and checked out of my accommodation. The same driver then picked me up and we made our way back to Ende. As there is not much to do in Ende I got some lunch and then made my way to the airport. From Ende I flew to Kupang, which is in West Timor. Here I stayed at a hostel for the night, again going to bed early after my long day.
Day 6: Kupang – Dili
Today was another travel day. I got picked up at 5:00 am as I was getting the bus all the way to Dili. there is not much to write about this day as I was sat in the bus for literally 11 hours. aside from a few toilet and food stops the only stop we had, was crossing the border. this was my first ever land border crossing. Basically it is just like leaving one country, sleeping the entire flight and then entering another country. after everyone had crossed the border we switched busses and made our way across the significantly worse Timor-Leste roads. This day was very long but a cool experience to have driving from West to East Timor. It also was much cheaper than flying as I would have had to come in from Bali.
Overall this was an amazing trip! Very tiring and busy but I accomplished all that I had wished I would. I ticked off a fair few things off my bucket list and made some amazing memories. It took me a while to catch up on all the sleep lost but I wouldn’t change this for the world!