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.

-> Liveabord Diving Deals at Flores *

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.

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

-> Find the best hotel deals in Maumere *

Recommended Tours *:
Flores Liveaboard Diving
Komodo Liveaboard Diving

Related articles:
Komodo National Park
Tri-colored Lakes of Kelimutu
Flores Travel Guide

Flores, Nusa Tenggara

Flores means Flower in Portuguese, and it is indeed a place exuding beauty like its name.

It is one of the Lesser Sunda islands and is still largely unexplored by travelers in terms of tourism.

If you are looking for an adventurous and explorative independent traveling, this may be your answer.

Where is it

Flores is located in an Island on Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, east of Sumbawa and west of Solor Archipelago. To the southeast is timor, to the south is Sumba and to the north is Sulawesi.

Map of Flores in Indonesia

Map of Flores

Why go

Volcano Mountain at Flores Indonesia

Volcano Mountain

Visit Flores for the almost untouched island, where you can trek to see Tri-colored lakes in Kelimutu of acid volcanic water, Komodo Dragon, swim in calm pool with waterfall backdrop, enjoy your meal and mingling with locals amidst view of lush paddy fields and smoking volcanic mountain. You can even dive or snorkel off various amazing dive sites.

When is the best time to go

Go during the dry season to enjoy the full marvel of the place which is from June – October, but if you must, rainy season is possible but be prepared for muddy roads and cloudy skies that might dampen your views.

What to see

The nearest tourist attraction is the famous crater lakes known as the Tri-clored Lakes of Mount Kelimutu. The natural colors are due to the chemical reactions of minerals in the lake with the volcanic gas.

Kelimutu Three colored Lakes Indonesia

Kelimutu Three Colored Lakes

Komodo Dragons in one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in IndonesiaKomodo National Park. The park is situated in Komodo Island, where you can also dive, snorkel, camp and kayak at the beautiful island.

What to do

Diving – there are several dive sites here in Flores, the most popular is Komodo Islands which one of the top diving sites in Indonesia. Diving Komodo islands are also known to many world class divers due to the Komodo National Park’s reserve that offers what every tropical diving paradise.

Surfing – there are many hotsposts around Flores that allows surfing from beginner level to advance. This is an up and coming surfing places in Indonesia.

Visit traditional villages, and stay with the local families while doing eco-friendly activities like bird watching, trekking and local dances. Also swim in waterfall pool.

Swim in Waterfall Pool, Flores

Swim in Waterfall Pool

Where to stay

Despite being off the beaten track, you can still find many accommodation options here in and around Flores, particularly in Maumere or Labuan Bajo.

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

What and where to eat

If you are in Ende, remember to try out the Kopi Ende, they are coffee beans roasted with ginger and then brewed as the usual coffee drink.

How to get there

By flights

Airport at Maumere, Flores, Indonesia

Maumere Airport

Fly into the main airport at Maumere, with daily flights from Bali and Kupang.

There are also daily flights to Labuanbajo from Bali and Lombok.

By Boat

You can also get in by Pelni boats to Labuanbajo or Maumere and other parts of Indonesia. There are also other boats like ASDP ferry from Labuanbajo to Sape. Or you may just take a sailing trip from tour companies between Lombok, Bali and Flores.

Labuanbajo, Flores

Labuanbajo

By land

And if you are into adventure riding and photography, you may choose to take the long tedious (note: very long and tedious) way overland, a bus from Bali to Lombok to Bima and then Sape and then end with a Ferry to Labuanbajo. This journey will take more than 24 hours.

How to get around

Take the ubiquitous Bemo (minibus or minivans) around the island, it will guarantee an experience.

Paddy Fields in Flores

Paddy Fields in Flores

Photo credits from top: Burmesedays, Gabriel, NeilsPhotography, david.james.harris, Gabriel, leafbug and Gabriel

Recommended Tours *:
Flores Liveaboard Diving
Komodo Liveaboard Diving

Related Articles:
Maumere, Flores
Tri-colored Lakes at Mount Kelimutu

More Flores Travel Guide