Tourist Spots in Ende Flores
Ende is the district where you will find the world-famous Kelimutu Crater Lake. However, with its unique blend of adventure with natural and cultural attractions, Ende offers much more. Tiwu Sora’s beautiful yet challenging treks await the brave hearted; while art and culture lovers can indulge their senses in Ndona which is most celebrated for its Lionese ikat weaving. Visitors will also get to admire the heritage site of Wolotopo, famous for its ancient traditional houses. Other places worth visiting are Wolosoko cocoa plantation, Wolowaru’s organic cashew processing, Lake Tiwu Bowu and Mbuliwaralau Beach – for some leisure time.
If you want to experience Lio culture and nature in a remote area, where you will be among the first visitors to leave your footprints, an exploration to Lake Tiwu Sora and an overnight stay in Deturia Village will make an unforgettable journey.
For the local Lio people, Tiwu Sora (tiwu means ‘lake’ in Lio language) is a sacred place with its own legend. The small lake is home to a species of giant eel. The people from the surrounding villages believe that the souls of the deceased go to the mystic lake and inhabit the eels. So as not disturb the resting souls, each visitor has to go through a special ritual before entering the area of the lake. A village elder, who has the ritual knowledge to communicate with the ancestral spirits, will arrange the necessary supernatural preparations.
Mount Kelimutu, with its tri-colored crater lakes, is probably the most amazing natural phenomenon in Flores. Beyond that, the ‘steaming mountain’ is also the island’s most famous tempat angker, or mystical, haunted place.
Scientific explanations aside, there are many myths about the origin of Kelimutu. This is one of the reasons why Mount Kelimutu was, and still is a sacred place for the local people. Over the years, the three crater lakes have often changed color. At present, one of the lakes is black-brown, one is green, and one is currently changing from green to a reddish color. A reason may be the varying mineral contents of the water. Another explanation suggests that the changing colors are caused by the neglected ancestral souls.
The first lake is named Tiwu Ata Mbupu (lake of the ancestors' souls ); the second is named Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (lake of young people’s souls); and the third is called Tiwu Ata Polo (lake of evil spirits). The first and second lakes are situated close together; while the third lake is about 1.5km to the west. Kelimutu is a beautiful place at any time of the day. However, the best time to enjoy this magical place is in the early morning when the clouds haven’t yet covered the view. Many visitors prefer to see the sunrise.
The most popular and convenient starting point to visit Kelimutu is Moni, a village close to the Transflores ‘highway’. Whereas until not too long ago visitors had to hike all the way up to Kelimutu, there is now a paved road to a parking lot where you can enjoy a 30-minute walk through a lush forest full of birdsong, before entering the lake area.
Moni, too, is worth a stay. You can do many nice treks in the fertile surroundings of rice fields, forests, and hills. Relax in the hot springs nearby, look at some fine Lio ikat in the market, or enjoy a performance of local dance and music. Another starting point to Kelimutu, and a good alternative to Moni, is Detusoko village, which is about 33km from Kelimutu.
The combination of traditional houses and an organic cocoa plantation make Wolosoko a pleasant spot to pause for a moment during your journey through Moni’s amazing natural surroundings. A group of local cocoa farmers, who work together in an association called ‘Cocoa Village Clinic, cultivate and develop high-quality cocoa crops with the support of LED NTT, a Swiss-Indonesian collaboration project.
If you want to learn more about cocoa, the local farmers – headed by Gregory Bokha – will be more than happy to show you the different steps in cocoa farming, from planting to the final product. Indeed, you should enjoy a glass of delicious hot chocolate in the refreshing, cool air of the chocolate plantation
Besides chocolate and well-maintained Lionese ceremonial houses, Wolosoko offers other highlights to visitors: you may want to learn more about a long-standing local handicraft by joining Mama Susana’s pottery workshop. She is one of the last women who still master the art of pottery in Wolosoko.
Tiwu is the Lionese word for ‘lake’. Tiwu Bowu Lake is one of the rare sites where you can enjoy a peaceful day canoeing on the relaxing, luminous water while indulging your senses in the beautiful scenery of traditional ‘keramba’ farming, an interesting net system of fish farming. The forest around the lake is a great place to explore and observe birds in beautiful natural surroundings. If you bring your binoculars, you may even get to see some of the rare endemic species. Located close to Flores’ north coast, Tiwu Bowu also offers equally charming views of rice paddy fields and a contrasting charcoal-colored seashore.
Since the area is not frequented by tourists, there are no canoe rentals operating. However, renting a traditional wooden boat from the locals is an attractive option, that you shouldn't miss. There is no accommodation, shops, or restaurants near the lake. Therefore bring your own water and food supply for the day. In Ende, the closest bigger city from Tiwu Bowu, you can find accommodation, shops and restaurants.
If you are fond of Lionese ikat weaving, you must visit the women of Bou Sama Sama, an ikat weaving cooperative in Ndona. Bou Sama Sama was founded in 2004. At present, 17 weavers headed by Ibu Maria Angelina – a school-teacher and weaver – participate in this working group to produce a well-known, natural-dye ikat. The distinct reddish dye is extracted from the morinda tree in an elaborate process. The beautiful traditional cloth from Ndona is popular among ikat aficionados and is sold to collectors all over the world.
In contrast to other ikat weaving villages in the Ende district, where tourists often get beleaguered by ikat sellers, the pleasant members of Bou Sama Sama offer you a relaxed atmosphere in which to choose your favorite piece of cloth. You can either drop by spontaneously or make an arrangement with Ibu Maria Angelina.
Wolotopo, a rather large and lively village built into a quite steep hillside, is well worth a visit to encounter the Lionese people within their past and present way of living. The people there still strongly adhere to their adat and keep their traditional ceremonial houses in good shape. These houses are not only a relic of history but are also still inhabited by several families. Taking a stroll around the village, you will get an idea of the local daily activities – above all ikat weaving, which is practiced by almost every household – and the interplay of adat and Christian beliefs, expressed in the mix of traditional and Catholic graves.
Wolotopo’s keda kanga – a small wooden building used to store ancestral bones – is situated in an elevated position at top of the village. It features some prominent Lionese symbols: carved on its central pillar you can see a horse and a boat; and on the keda kanga’s four corners hangs the blue wooden seko, a depiction of fruit that symbolizes abundance and satisfaction. Peek inside the keda kanga to catch sight of the bhaku, a carved wooden box containing ancestral remains.
The sao ria, the ‘big house’, functions as an office for adat issues. It is still inhabited by the ria bewa – the village’s decision maker and legal authority – and his family. The sao ata laki stands elevated from the ground on rock pillars. It is inhabited by six families that include two who are mosalaki. Full of symbolism, the sao ata laki is a reflection of the female body. Its function as a communal house and a place for gatherings is expressed in the drum and gong reliefs at the entrance door; these instruments function to call people to gather. Right next to the sao ata laki, the sao su’e is the place for holding major communal rituals and ceremonies. Inside this house, there is an elephant tusk surrounded by round rocks. It is a place that people visit after having bad dreams. They bring along a stone, put it down next to the tusk, and pray that the bad dreams will not materialize.
If you visit Wolotopo, please do not forget to register in the guestbook at the local village office and to leave a small donation – or ingredients for betel nut chew – at the elephant tusk after you enter the sao su’e. You can easily combine your trip to Wolotopo with a trip to Ndona Village, which is only about 6km from Wolotopo. Ndona Village is famous for its unique Lionese ikat.
What sets Wolowaru apart from other spots is its function as a center of organic cashew nut processing. This small scale enterprise, which is supported by an international development project, has become an important additional source of income for many local farmers.
The cashew nuts which are processed in Wolowaru originate from Ilepadung in the Flores Timur district. Guests are welcome to visit the cashew-processing facilities and follow the complex process – from splitting the nut, peeling and cleaning the skin, sorting, roasting, and – last but not least – tasting. If you acquire a taste for the precious nuts, you may drop by at the Warung Jawa Timur, a food stall where you can buy a range of organic cashew products that also make good souvenirs for your friends back home. Please give advanced notice to Bapak Cahyo Lukito on + 62 8121701008 or firstname.lastname@example.org, for a guided tour through this interesting local source of income.
You may combine your visit to Wolowaru with an excursion to other villages. Nggela, which is famed for its traditional houses and fine ikat weaving, is a good option. The woven cloth from Nggela is well-known for its distinct motifs, colors, and high quality. Therefore, the Nggela ikat is sought-after by local and international collectors. If you are looking for a unique Florinese souvenir, Nggela offers you a wide range of beautiful woven products.
Mbuliwaralau Beach stretches along the south coast of the Ende district, close to the fishing village with the same name. The beautiful panorama of pandanus, coconut trees, and big pebbles gives this beach a special charm. If you take the route from Wolowaru to Mubliwaralau, you will pass beautiful rice fields, and also a small and charming monkey forest. The area around the beach is inhabited by fishermen who are Buginese by descent. Sometimes, the friendly local people offer their delicious young fresh coconuts to visitors. If watching the spectacle of the waves hitting the shore is not enough, you may enjoy having a swim at the beach. Be careful though, because the waves can get pretty rough and currents can be strong.
As Mbuliwaralau is still quite untouched, you won't find accommodation, shops, or restaurants there. But Wolowaru, which is close, offers some warung and small shops.
Wologai is one of the few villages in the Ende district with well-maintained houses built in the traditional Lionese architectural style. Throughout the year, there are several ceremonies held in these beautiful buildings. During a big harvest ceremony that usually takes place in August, Wologai people from abroad reunite in their home village and turn it into a very lively spot. Since they are constructed from bamboo and palm fiber, the houses are highly flammable; so even more, as the kitchen is located inside. The village already burnt down several times and had to be reconstructed.
The main ceremonial house is the storage place for several sacred objects and ritual paraphernalia, including a myth-spun drum. The story goes that this instrument is made out of human skin. This drum is only used during an important annual ceremony. On this occasion, musicians do not play it with their hand or a drumstick, but only with a special kind of dried grass. Unfortunately, recently the drum got stolen. So, the local adat elders are still holding purification ceremonies to find the drum, and also the thief.
Guests are not usually permitted to enter the ceremonial house during a spontaneous visit. However, visitors have the opportunity to look inside the non-ceremonial traditional houses which are inhabited by the villagers.
Besides the traditional houses, Wologai is also worth a visit due to its handicrafts – above all the carving which is mostly produced by a charming old man. In addition, the processing of local palm liquor – moke – is also an interesting part of the Wologai people’s livelihood.
If you want to get more out of your day in the Lio area after having visited the Kelimutu crater lakes, you can add a pleasant hike from Kelimutu, passing through the villages of Pemo and Woloara.
Pemo, a small village situated on the slopes of Kelimutu, is the first stop during your hike from Kelimutu to Woloara. It only takes about a 1 1/2 hours walk downhill to reach Pemo from the Kelimutu National Park parking area.
Walking down the main street, take a shortcut through the national park’s arboretum, where you can learn more about the local vegetation of Kelimutu. When you are back on the main road, take a right turn at the signpost that reads ‘km 11’. The small footpath leads you through refreshing scenery with a gorgeous view to Kelibara, the ‘white mountain’ – as its peak is often covered by clouds.
After about one hour, you will get to marvel at Pemo’s displays of Lio culture. Have a look at its two ceremonial houses and the village’s ritual center, consisting of the tubu, an erected stone, in the midst of musu mase, a group of smaller stones surrounding the tubu. The sao ria, the ‘big house’ which is thatched with a mix of wooden bricks and alang-alang grass, and still inhabited by one of the mosalaki and his family.
Pemo also hosts a neat keda kanga, a wall-free traditional house standing on stone pillars, which was constructed without using one single nail. This storage place for the ritual drums and gongs, as well as the bhaku – the encased ancestral bones – is looked after by the village’s highest adat leader, the ria bewa. As in many places in the Lio area, the Pemo villagers produce their own distinct ikat. Continue your hike to Woloara Village for another 5km on an easy-to-walk-on road and enjoy the wealth of agricultural land, including neat vegetable gardens.
Woloara Village offers you another view of a sao ria standing on impressive stone pillars, and a keda kanga which is decorated with pretty carvings of popular Lionese motifs such as snakes, horses, people, and plants. In Woloara, you may add a short loop walk on foot to a natural, fresh water spring, which is spiritually meaningful to the local people. Here, many rituals are held during the major Lionese traditional ceremonies. With the new-gained energy from your spring excursion, enjoy the last part of the hike (about one hour) which will finally take you to the Murundao waterfall right before arriving back at the main road to Moni.