Tri-colored Lakes at Mount Kelimutu, Flores
Mount Kelimutu is a volcano in Flores, one of the many volcanoes in Indonesia. The highest peak here is Mount Kelibara, 1731m tall.
One of the most famous attractions here for travelers is the tri-colored Kelimutu lake at the summit of the craters at 1690m. It consists of three lakes together of varying colors 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), green or red, respectively. They are only separated by a crater wall.
Where is it
Mount Kelimutu is located in Kelimutu National Park in Flores, Indonesia. It is near a small town called Moni, which is about 50km east of Ende of Central Flores Island and 4 hour ride from Maumere, the city of Flores.
The tri-colored lakes of Mount Kelimutu are special 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.
When is the best time to go
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.
What to see
The Tri-colored Lakes of Kelimutu, of course.
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 height of 50-150 m. 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.
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.
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.
Where to stay
If you are more adventurous, you can choose to stay in Moni, which has some choices of guesthouses with minimal facilities. One of the choices here in Moni at Mount Kelimutu is Daniel Lodge *, and another just at the edge is Antoneri Lodge *. 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 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 there
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
You can take a ferry boat from Bali or Lombok 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.
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 tough 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.
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.
|1. Book the best accommodations – Booking.com* or Agoda.com *|
|2. Find the cheapest flight options that suit you – Omio.com * 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 *|
Hi Rachel, your blog came up on a search of how to get to Kelimutu. I’m headed there in a few months in April with a few friends. Right now the the plan is to fly in to Ende (mid-afternoon arrival) to do the sunrise hike the next morning to the lakes (we’re on a time budget, so no time to spend an extra day). Would we have to stay in Moni to do this, or can we just hang around in Ende until midnight and then get up to the trailhead directly? It’d be cool not to have to spend money on accommodation if possible, but we definitely want to do the sunrise at Kelimutu. What do you think? Are there cars for hire that my friends and I could hire that late, or should we get up to Moni as soon as we get in from the airport and spend the night there? Thanks in advance for the travel advice. -Matt
Great post! Very informative and helpful. I’m planning on heading to Flores next month and can’t wait to do this hike during sunrise!