Tri-colored Lakes of Kelimutu, Flores

The lakes of Kelimutu are a natural wonder located on the island of Flores in Indonesia. Nestled within the Kelimutu National Park, these volcanic lakes are renowned for their vibrant and ever-changing colors. There are three lakes, Tiwu Ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People), Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens), and Tiwu Ata Polo (Bewitched or Enchanted Lake), each with its distinct color, ranging from turquoise to green, black, and even red. They are only separated by a crater wall.

These lakes are even more intriguing because their colors periodically change due to chemical reactions within the volcanic craters. The lakes of Kelimutu are a natural marvel and hold cultural significance for the local communities, adding to their allure. Visiting there offers a unique and awe-inspiring experience, combining breathtaking natural beauty with fascinating geological phenomena.

Where are the Lakes of Kelimutu

The lakes of Kelimutu are located in the Kelimutu National Park, which is situated in the central part of the island of Flores in Indonesia. The national park is located explicitly near the small town of Moni, in the Ende Regency of East Nusa Tenggara province.

The lakes are nestled atop the Kelimutu volcano, which stands at an elevation of approximately 1,639 meters (5,377 feet) above sea level. The remote location of the lakes adds to their mystique and natural beauty, surrounded by lush forests and stunning panoramic views of the Flores landscape.

Lakes of kelimutu, indonesia.
Lakes of Kelimutu, Indonesia. Photo by Pierre-Yves Burgi on Unsplash

Why visit the Lakes of Kelimutu

The tri-colored lakes of Kelimutu are unique for a naturally occurring phenomenon. Due to the ever-changing colors and the varying colors amongst themselves, it is beautifully haunting. The local people here consider it a resting place for the departed souls. They believed that Mae was a god of the afterlife and those who died would sit by the base of the lake 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 color 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 makes it much more mysterious and mystifying.

Best time to visit the lakes of Kelimutu

The best time to visit the Kelimutu Lakes is during the dry season of Indonesia’s tropical weather, from May to September. The best of the best time is July or August, making it also the peak time when you should make advance bookings of places to stay and such.

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

Hiking to the Lakes of Kelimutu

Hiking to the lakes of Kelimutu is an adventurous and rewarding experience that allows visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area fully. The hiking trail to the lakes offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, including dense forests, rolling hills, and scenic viewpoints.

The hike to the lakes of Kelimutu starts at the national park entrance near Moni. It is a moderate hike with some steep sections and uneven terrain. Wear comfortable shoes and bring water and snacks. The trail passes through lush vegetation and offers glimpses of wildlife. As you approach the lakes, the anticipation builds, and the view becomes more captivating.

Each lake has unique color creating a breathtaking sight within the volcanic craters. Scientifically, the colors 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 walls’ colors and the lake’s bottom.

The first and second lakes are located next to each other, while the third one is located 1.5km west of the two. The boundary between the lake is a narrow stone wall of a very steep crater with a 50-150 m height.

There are multiple viewpoints from which to observe the lakes. The main viewing area provides a panoramic vista of all three lakes, while other views offer closer and different perspectives of each lake.

What to do at the Lakes of Kelimutu

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.

The Kelimutu National Park offers more than just the lakes. Exploring the park allows you to discover diverse flora and fauna, including unique bird species. There are also traditional villages nearby, where you can experience the local culture and way of life.

Where to stay near the Lakes of Kelimutu

If you are more adventurous, you can stay in Moni, which has some choices of guesthouses with minimal facilities. One of the choices here in Ende at Mount Kelimutu is Daniel Lodge *, and another just at the edge is Antoneri Lodge *. For more comfortable options, you can stay in Maumere, which is 4 hours away. There is also another choice to stay in Ende *, which is an in-between range between these two.

What and where to eat

Moni’s nearest town has only a 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, especially if you decide to do your own trekking. You can find drink sellers at the crater.

How to get to the Lakes of Kelimutu

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

The nearest location to Kelimutu is Moni. You can come here from several options – Maumere or Moni, both of which you can fly into. From Maumere, you can take about 4 hours to ride to Moni. From Ende, the flight will arrive at Kupang airport, where you must ride 40 minutes to Ende and then another 2 hours to Moni.

From Moni, it is just another 45 minutes drive to reach the lip of Lake Kelimutu. Many travelers would take this option. But you can also choose to walk, which will take 2.5 hours one way.

By Ferry boat
Depending on your cruise package, you can take a ferry from Bali or Lombok to Flores, which would take around 3-4 days. That would mainly include stops at places like Komodo National Park, other villages, and also here at the lakes of Kelimutu.

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 a foot of some light trekking and challenging hiking.

Where to go nearby

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

Visit Maumere, Flores, for its natural charm.

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.

Hiring a local guide who can provide valuable insights, share stories, and navigate the trails safely is recommended. They can also enhance your understanding of the lakes’ cultural significance and geological features.


Travel Tips:
1. Book the best accommodations – Booking.com* or Agoda.com *
2. Find the cheapest flight options that suit you – Skyscanner * or 12Go.asia *
3. Rent a car in advance and make your trip more convenient – Rentalcars *
4. Make the most of the time that you have! Exciting excursions, professional guides, and more – Klook *
5. Book your train tickets online easily – Tiket.com * or bus tickets at Easybook.com *
6. Order ahead Indonesian Rupiah with the best exchange rate – Wise Travel Card *

Related Posts