- Tri-coloured crater lakes.
- Sunrise and fog combine to create something magical.
- A midnight hike alongside volcanic craters
As we’ve already shouted about, Flores is an adventurer’s wet dream; an island group that is literally teeming with microadventurous possibility (we take it you saw these 8 top rated wild activities?).
An absolute must-do in Flores is exploring Kelimutu National Park, and more specifically the Volcanic Lakes. It’s one of those experiences that will take your breath away; something you won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
In order to get the most from this experience, you’ll need to be up before the sparrow’s fart. More specifically, you’ll need to begin the hike from the car park at about 4.30am. Bearing in mind the nearest major town is Ende (ie. your accommodation will about 2 hours away), it’s a pretty punchy start to the day!
It’s a relatively easy hike once you’re there though, taking roughly 30-45 mins along a path that follows a well marked trail. Head-torches most certainly come in handy here unless you enjoy stumbling into very hot, very large and very toxic bathtubs.
The cost to enter the park is a poultry 150,000 IDR ($16 AUS approximately).
The tri-coloured lakes are all visible from the top and remarkably depending on conditions will actually appear in differing colours. Shades of black, green, blue and even red can be seen here. The lakes are a deeply spiritual place and steeped in tradition, with locals believing it’s a resting place for departed souls, the change in colour being a result of the spirit’s mood swings.
The less imaginative would say it’s a result of chemical reactions resulting from the minerals contained in the lake perhaps triggered by volcano gas activity.
The most impressive volcanic lake at sunrise is Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (Lake of Young People’s Souls), it appeared emerald green as the sun rays burst above it.
Separated by a ragged ridgeline, it lies just next Ata Polo (Lake of Evil Spirits) which is best seen on the return walk back to the car park. The lookout lies only a couple of feet from the crater and is about a close as you can get to any of the lakes! The colour of it is a hypnotic cobalt blue colour.
The lake that gets the least attention due to it’s West facing aspect (and therefore the least morning sun upon it) is Ata Mbupu (Lake of the Ancestors’ Souls). Appearing black in the morning, it’s rim is lined by a symmetrical ring of pine trees that almost form a heart shape from the summit lookout.
Don’t forget to find the Kelimutu Cowboy once you’re up there. It’s widely known (in certain circles!) that he’s the happiest man on planet Earth with a universally infectious smile. Perhaps it’s his spirit that feeds the lake colours?
Check out the vid the brilliant Blonde Abroad shot while we were there….
- Hiking boots
- Head torch
- Warm jacket / thermals (it’s an early, chilly start and you’re pretty high up)
- Camera & tripod
- Some money to buy some snacks at the top
How to get there
The nearest major city to fly to is Ende (we recommend staying at the basic but convenient Grand Wisata Hotel). Unless you’re a very competent swimmer (and a few sandwiches short of a picnic), you’ll need to fly into Flores to get enjoy this microadventure. The dry season is May to September, with July being the best month to travel.
To fly direct from Denpassar to Ende, there is one flight each day which leave at 1305 arriving at 1425.
However, we’d strongly recommend flying into Labuan Bajo from Bali and exploring Komodo National Park, in which case, there are two flights:
- 0935 – 1025 (Garuda)
- 1435 – 1520 (Wings Air)
Beginner – Intermediate
Distance / Elevation
The summit lies at 1690m, although the car park at the start of the work is at approximately 1300m.