Komodo Boat Trip from Lombok to Flores

As a thrifty backpacker, the adage, “You get what you pay for,” often does not apply; only suckers pay the full asking price. I always make sure to shop around and try to find a place that’ll provide me deliver the best service for the most affordable price. This was the goal I had in mind when I decided I wanted to visit Komodo Island; home to superb beaches, amazing underwater life, and of course, the elusive, Komodo Dragon.

When looking for a boat trip that would take me from Bangsar in Lombok to Labuan Bajo in Flores, with stops at Komodo, Rinca, Moyo and Laba islands, I managed to find a trip vis-a-vis Komodo Adventures and Beyond for 1,750,000 RPH (around $150USD). The price included breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, free coffee and tea, six 1.5L bottles of water, plus all of the Komodo Island fees and transport from my hotel in Senggigi.

Scary Komodo Dragons at Flores

Komodo Dragons – the least scary thing I encountered on my trip at Flores.

After asking to see photos of the boat, which looked simple yet sturdy (this was no cruise trip I know) AND which also included a Western style toilet (a luxury on this side of the world) I agreed to join the tour and handed over the money. The next morning, a van came and picked me up and brought me to the port, we waited a few hours at Lombok Café for a briefing. Everyone at the restaurant was super nice; it seemed almost too good to be true.

Captain boat Lombok Flores

Komodo adventures and beyond with only one captain!

As soon as the brief started, something felt wrong. Since it was the day after Ramadan, the man giving the briefing told us that despite there being two ships, there would only be one captain because no one else wanted to work that day. We all nervously laughed, thinking it was a joke, but nope, he was serious. After his speech, we made our way to the harbour where we were greeted by an unfamiliar looking boat.

Komodo Boat from Lombok to Flores

Our “cruise” boat from Lombok to Flores

Unlike the images I saw the day before, the boat was essentially two stories of poorly constructed wood tethering on the edge of collapse. The first floor included a small front area, a covered space in the middle with two benches, the captain’s room, plus one cabin and a squatty potty at the back. Upstairs was a covered platform about four feet tall with 20+ mats strewn across the floor; this was apparently our sleeping space. Never one to be deterred, I decided to grin and bear it and enter the boat—after all, it’s about the journey and not the vessel, right?

Komodo Boat from Lombok to Flores

Sleeping condition on the boat trip to Komodo

After 4 very long days living in close quarters on the open water, I’m happy to say I survived. The conditions on the boat did not get any better. The engine broke down on our first night, plenty of people got seasick due to the choppy waters, the food was ALWAYS a variation of mie goreng or nasi goreng, and we never did end up getting a captain which meant we had no idea what was going on most days.

Food onboard Komodo boat trip

Food onboard Komodo boat trip

Despite all of this, seeing the komodo dragons up close, snorkeling with huge manta rays, seeing dolphins, laying out on a pink sand beach, and sleeping under the stars with good people made it all worth it—plus I picked up a few new Indonesian words after becoming friendly with the crew, who while spoke no English, always had big smiles on their faces.

boat crew sailed from Lombok to Komodo Island

Happy boat crew that sailed from Lombok to Komodo island

Here are some helpful tips on how to decide what company to use and what to pack when you brave this adventure:

  • Ask friends for a tour recommendation While I cannot recommend my tour company, komodo dragon, Wanua Adventure seems to be a safe bet. Since our captain never showed up due to an engine problem on the other boat, the captain of the Wanua boat came over and decided to explain the agenda for each day since all the boats more or less have the same schedule.. very nice guy!
  • Ask about how many people will be aboard the ship. We only had 13 people on our boat, which is far less than some other boats that try and squeeze 30 people aboard. Not only is this completely unsafe, but it also means a lot of people are not fed and that there’s not a lot of room to relax.
  • Make sure the komodo park entrance fee is also included in the cost of the cruise. I’ve heard about people having to pay an additional $25 because the fee was not included in their deal.
  • Pack a separate bag filled with your essentials to bring to the sleeping deck. Luggage is stored under the boat and a pain to get to. In addition to sleeping clothes, a bathing suit, a towel and your toiletries, I suggest packing a sarong to use as a cover while you sleep, ear plugs or music to help drown out the noise of the loud engine, baby wipes since there are no showers, and a portable charger due to the high probability the electrical outlets on the boats will either be taken or not working. And if you want, take cards, a wireless speaker, a guitar if you can play, etc. for entertainment on the boat.
  • Bring motion sickness tablets. Even if you don’t end up using it, someone aboard will most likely need them and you’ll have a friend for life.

Our own private beach during Komodo boat trip

Our own private beach during Komodo boat trip

The safety of a boat trip/tour to Komodo has been criticised numerously, there are reports of accidents, so proceed with caution. Decide if this is the adventure for you and use our tips above to make an informed decision. Happy and safe travels!

Related articles:
Komodo National Park, Flores
Flores Travel Guide

3 weeks itinerary for Islands of Indonesia

Q: I’m writing you since I’m planning to go on a trip to Indonesia in July/ August.

I might have about 3 weeks to travel. Since I want to make most of my trip, I would love to visit a couple of islands of Indonesia.

Your homepage is already very helpful! But I just wanted to ask whether you could recommend e specific route in Indonesia which involves a couple of destinations and islands (e.g. Sumatra, Bali, Lombok,…)? Can you recommend any route for three weeks?

Thank you so much for your help!

– Simone

Answer:
For 3 weeks you may well cover a good number of islands in Indonesia, but do bear in mind quite a number of flying is needed as Indonesia is spread out far and wide. Try this recommendation of ours for the highlights of islands of Indonesia from Bali, Lombok and Gili Islands to Flores and Nusa Tenggara:

For first 10 days –
Fly into Bali and spend a week exploring Bali and Lombok – combining our 4 days itinerary in Bali with 3 days of Lombok and then another 3 days for Gili Islands.

Next 10 days –
Make way to Flores via boat from either Lombok or one of the Gili Islands or fly from Bali to Maumere and explore Flores, making way towards Labuhanbajo through Kelimutu and Komodo Island.

After that you may find flights out of Flores to either Bali again or Jakarta and then leave Indonesia from there.

If you want to explore Sumatra or Sulawesi I would suggest them as another separate trip as it is on other parts of Indonesia and would definitely require more time to explore. Have a great trip!

Tri-colored Lakes at Mount Kelimutu, Flores

Mount Kelimutu is a volcano in Flores, one of the many volcanoes of Indonesia. The highest peak here is the Mount Kelibara of 1731m tall.

One of the most famous attraction here for travellers is the tri-colored Kelimutu lake within the summit of the craters at 1690m. It consists of three lakes together of varying colours from each other and also at different times, making them surreal and exciting to be discovered.

One of these lakes is Tiwu ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People) which is usually blue and on the westernmost of the three lakes. The other two lakes are Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Bewitched or Enchanted Lake), where both of them are green or red respectively and are only separated by a crater wall.

Tri-colored Kelimutu Lakes at Mount Kelimutu, Flores

Tri-clored Kelimutu Lakes at Mount Kelimutu, Flores

Where is it

Mount Kelimutu is located in Kelimutu National Park on the island of Flores, Indonesia. It is near a small town called Moni, which is about 50km east of Ende of Central Flores Island and 4 hours ride from Maumere the city of Flores.

Why go

Map of Mount Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia

Map of Mount Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia

The tri-colored lakes of Mount Kelimutu are special for natural occurring phenomenon. Due to the ever-changing colours and the varying colours amongst themselves, it is beautifully haunting. The local people here consider it as a resting place for the departed souls. They believed that Mae was a god of the afterlife and those who died will sit by the lakes base on their merits in life. Therefore, it is connected to the names of the lake, when translated meant one for the souls of the people, another for the spirits of young people and lastly for the spirits of soothsayers.

These lakes change colour dramatically and unpredictably from blue or green to red or black, making it one of the natural phenomena to be beheld by many. Moreover the precariously steep road to get there make it so much more mysterious and mystifying.

When is the best time to go

The best time to visit the Kelimutu Lakes is during the dry season of Indonesia tropical weather, which is May to September. The best of best time is July or August, making it also the most peak time where you should make advance booking of place to stay and such.

To visit the lake, the best time is when during sunrise for its most dramatic atmosphere, which you have to wake as early as 3.30am to be able to make it.

Top view of Kelimutu Lakes at Mount Kelimutu, Flores

Top view of Kelimutu Lakes at Mount Kelimutu, Flores

What to see

The Tri-colored Lakes of Kelimutu, of course.
The first and second lake are located next to each other while the third one is located 1.5km west of the two. The boundaries between the lake is a narrow stone wall of a crater which is very steep and with the height of 50-150 m. Scientifically, the colours of the lakes change due to the discoloration by the sunlight, the water microorganisms and the dissolution of chemicals. It also includes the reflection from the colours of the walls and bottom of the lake itself.

What to do

Catch the sunrise at Mount Kelimutu overlooking the lakes. Start by taking a truck up the 8 km path to Kelimutu lakes and then another 45 minutes upward drive just in time to catch the sunrise.

Sunrise at Mount Kelimutu, Flores

Sunrise at Mount Kelimutu, Flores


Hike and trek around Mount Kelimutu. You can explore the crater and then walk all the way back down to Moni if you like, or ride back the way you came.

What and where to eat

At the nearest town Moni, there are only few restaurants to choose from and some local market stalls. Remember to pack enough food for energy on your journey to the tri-colored lakes as it would take time and especially if you decide to do your own trekking. You can find drink sellers at the crater.

Where to stay

If you are more adventurous, you can choose to stay in Moni which has some choices of guesthouses of minimal facilities. For more comfortable options, you can choose to stay in Maumere which is 4 hours away. There is also another choice to stay in Ende which is sort on in between range for these two.

-> Find the best hotel deals near Kelimutu with Booking.com *

How to get there

By Flights
The nearest airport is in Maumere and Ende, Flores. There are regular flights between Bali and Maumere.

Smoke over Mount Kelimutu, Flores

Smoke over Mount Kelimutu, Flores

From Maumere, you can take about 4 hours ride to Moni. From Moni, it is just another 45 minutes to reach the lip of Lake Kelimutu.

At Ende, the flight will arrive at Kupang airport, which you have to ride 40 minutes to Ende and then a further ride of another 3 hours to the village near Kelimutu lake which would talk a walk of 2.5 hours from there to get to.

By Ferry boat
You can take a ferry boat from Bali to Flores, which would take around 3-4 days depending on your cruise package that would mostly include stops at places like Komodo National Park, other villages and also here at Kelimutu lake.

The blue and the black of Kelimutu Lakes, Flores

The blue and the black of Kelimutu Lakes, Flores

How to get around

You can rent a vehicle to get around from town to villages and the Kelimutu lakes, but you can also catch the public bus if you like. The rest can be covered by foot of some light trekking as well as tough hiking.

Where to go nearby

Komodo National Park, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Indonesia, it is the home to the famous Komodo Dragon in Indonesia, one of the few left in this world.

East Crater Lake of Mount Kelimutu, Flores

East Crater Lake of Mount Kelimutu, Flores

Travel Tips

Always pack enough to go food in your backpack and water as the journey on land is long while the trekking is hard and far from where you can get them.

Also, if you have trouble with long bumpy overland journeys, don’t forget to get your medication to ease the ride. The roads here are winding, bumpy and often long.

Photo credits from top: NeilsPhotography, Burmesedays, Michael Day, Michael Day, bicrom das, java tourism and Michael Day

Related articles:
Komodo National Park
Maumere
Flores Travel Guide

Maumere, Flores

The largest town in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara of Indonesia, Maumere is probably not the most popular travel place but it is normally an accidental drop by due to it being an alternative port to fly in to explore the rest of Flores.

Maumere, Flores, Indonesia Map

Maumere, Flores, Indonesia Map

Why go

Go off the beaten path and explore the local living of Indonesia in the way of Flores, Nusa Tenggara. Hang around with the locals, visit fishing villages and markets and also explore the local hot springs, caves and beaches, all not exactly out to wow you but fun enough for the novelty of it. You will feel like the first explorer in these places.

Fishing Villages at Maumere, Flores, Indonesia

What to see

Weaving villages – see local artisans produce traditional ikat cloth which is lightweight and is good as souvenirs

What to do

Kids  at Maumere, Flores, Indonesiap

Uncover hidden hot springs and caves.

Chill and relax at remote and discrete beaches:
Ahuwair and Waiterang Beaches – more popular relaxing beaches with few bungalows to choose from. Real chill out and off the grid with limited electricity and what more internet. There are diving and snorkelling choices here.
Gading beach – for less crowd (of the already little crowd) with its black sand beach but the sea is too rough for snorkelling.

Climb Gunung Egon
This is an active volcano with a summit of 5.5km where its peak that can be seen from the Waiterang beach. Start at the small village of Blidit which is the beginning of the hiking trail. It can be climb in 3 hours. Remember to slather in a generous amount of sun blocks, if possible start really early in the morning.

Dive – scuba diving is here is remotely beautiful where you can even have a chance to see the whales and dolphins which are ubiquitous here. Best times to spot sperm whales are during November and December monsoons.

Where to stay

There are quite a number of accommodations to choose from here in relative to Flores. There are choices ranging from backpacker to mid-range hotels. The two popular places to stay here in Mauere that provides rooms in huts by the beach plus diving activities are Budi Sun Resort and Sea World Club Beach Resort *.

-> Find the best hotel deals in Maumere with Booking.com *

How to get there

Flights

Fly into the Wai Oti Airport (Bandar Udara Wai Oti), which is more commonly known as the Maumere Airport. It lies 3 km from the town and you may hop onto any ojek (motorcycle taxi) to get to the town center for about 5000Rp. There are regular flights from Kupang, Sumba, Labuanbajo and Denpasar (Bali).

Maumere Airport, Flores, Indonesia

Maumere Airport, Flores, Indonesia

Pelni Boat

You may even sail on one of the local Pelni boats into Maumere from Makassar and Kupang. Frequency is about every 2 weeks but with no fixed schedule, therefore you need enough time and ad-hoc planning to work it out when you are there. Tickets can be bought at the Pelni office in town.

Bus

If you are coming by bus, in one of the rare occasions, you can get a bus from Bajawa but with a long drive of 15 hours. You can get in/out or to/from Labuanbajo by bus, with a stop in Bajawa for 1 night. There are also buses between Moni and Ende that stops at Maumere.

People of Maumere, Flores, Indonesia

People of Maumere, Flores, Indonesia

Where to go nearby

Bali (fly to Denpasar airport) for the many things to see in Bali,
Lombok and Gili Islands – can also be access via Bali or Labuanbajo
Makassar – take a pelni boat over to continue and discover Sulawesi from there
Labuanbajo (Labuan Bajo) – for diving, snorkeling and many beautiful islands and beaches
Komodo National Park – to see the famous komodo dragon. You can get there by land or air.
The famous tri-coloured lake at Gunung Kelimutu in Flores

Photo credits from top: Burmesedays and the rest Gabriel

Related articles:
Komodo National Park
Tri-colored Lakes of Kelimutu
Flores Travel Guide
Komodo Boat Trip from Lombok to Flores