Indonesia: Flores + Komodo + Bali - July 2011
Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
"And how long do you have to walk, to see the Kelimutu?" "No, 10-15 minutes maximum." I am wary of Indonesian minutes, often elastics. But Matheus Misir, my driver-guide in Flores, is right. The spectacular volcano Kelimutu, with its three craters, which form giant basins for three lakes with strange colors, is an easy walk.
Perfect! I am a diver, not a trekker...
The "snake road" of Flores
In fact, most of the journey is done by car. Kelimutu is roughly half an hour drive from the small village of Moni, where we spent the night. A small winding road which climbs, which climbs...
In any case, wherever you go in Flores, the road is permanently a "snake-roadas my driver says. A "snake-road" that unrolls fabulous landscapes of rice fields and volcanic reliefs at every bend. Sometimes vertiginous, always splendid...
I would not have made this trip in bemo, these local mini-buses overloaded with goods and passengers... All along this crossing from east to west, from Maumere to Labuan Bajo, I appreciated the comfort of my private car: shock absorbers in good condition and air conditioning. This is not a luxury, on this serpent of asphalt in perpetual work. And then, I can ask Misir to stop whenever I want, to take pictures.
I also really appreciate his careful driving. Right from the start, he asks me nicely if I'm okay with his driving.
Yes Yes, "bagus"It's good. Considering the unexpected obstacles on the road - poultry, cows, children, rocks, motorcycles, broken down bemos, potholes - I think it's great that he's driving quietly, "pelan-pelan".
With Misir, I'm going to practice my Bahasa Indonesia for four days!
While we climb towards the Kelimutu, turn after turn, I watch the shreds of clouds still clinging to the summit. The sun has just risen.
Kelimutu is beautiful, provided that you don't find yourself in the fog. The summit culminates at 1 639 meters. When the volcano is in the clouds, everything is gray, there is nothing to see! But we are lucky. Today, at the time when we arrive, it is the big blue above our heads. The scarves of fog tear themselves little by little.
A few turns later, we see a small lady who waves to us on the side of the road, wrapped in a big jacket - it is that it is fresh, in the heights. She asks if we can take her up to the Kelimutu park. I nod and say yes: "Tidak apa apa", no problem. Misir is happy, he can chat in Indonesian with our hitchhiker.
She placed a large bundle next to her in the backseat. From ikatShe will try to sell them to tourists in the parking lot of the park.
Kelimutu National Park
Some Indonesian minutes later, we are there. Ticket bought at the counter, car parked on the parking lot. What? 50 000 rupiah more for the camera? Damn, I would have done better to hide my 7D...
Misir accompanies me to the first lake. He was right, it's easy: a path with steps, going up gently. Then flat ground, by a shaded path, which leads, on the right, to the first viewpoint on the craters of Kelimutu.
I have the sun in front of me, not great for the pictures, but it doesn't matter... I open my eyes wide, it's worth all the pictures in the world. A thin wall of jagged stone separates the two lakes.
The lake on the right, in the pictures above, is called Ata Polo. It can take a red-brown color. For the moment, it is rather dark blue-green.
The one on the left (that I will discover better after, by taking height), it is the lake Nuamuri Ko' ofai. When I arrive, the sun does not light it yet. In full light, it turns to acid green, almost fluorescent.
The place is popular. The locals also come here on excursions. They greet me kindly: "Hello!" I answer "Pagi!" And even, I add: "Saya orang perancis"because everyone wants to know where I come from... Success guaranteed.
But yes, yes, sir, I speak the Bahasa Indonesia ! Well, just a little, "setikit", and I'm sorry, but I'm not going to stay here and talk to you, tell you about my life, tell you if I travel alone or in a group, if I'm married or not, or how many children I have, because there's the green lake and the black lake waiting for me, you see, so goodbye and see you soon maybe...
No way to admire the view in silence, in this country...
The lakes of the spirits
Afterwards, to really enjoy the show, you have to climb to the well named Inspiration Point. An eminence, at the top of a staircase, which allows to embrace with the glance the three craters.
There, Misir let me go up alone. He prefers to go back to the parking lot, to chat with his colleagues. I attack the ascent, enthusiastic. Step after step, the panorama becomes even more grandiose.
And when I get to the top... Wow! Wow!
I did well not to come too early. A lot of tourists come here just before 6 am, for the sunrise. Except that at this hour, there is mist everywhere and the lakes are still in shadow.
It surely has its charm too, the shreds of mist above the craters, but I tell myself that it is not a bad choice to arrive a little later in the morning... The surface of the green lake full of sulfur lights up as the sun rises in the sky. Its color, of an intense turquoise green, seems almost supernatural.
On the other side of Inspiration Point, there is the third lake, the black lake, Ata Mbupu. Here again, I am lucky. It is often hidden under a mass of opaque clouds. But these are gradually unraveling under my eyes. We end up seeing the whitish cliff of the crater fringed with greenery reflected in the ink of the water. Astonishing.
The place is sacred for the people of the region. The three lakes are populated by spirits. There is a lake where the spirits of the young people go, another one for the old people, and the third lake, malefic or magic, would welcome the bad spirits (for what I understood from the explanations that were given to me).
I turn around, to watch the evolution of the acid green lake. The sun is higher in the sky. The color of the water is even more violent than before. I take a few more pictures, watching out of the corner of my eye for the clouds that I see looming on the horizon.
This is really the most beautiful one. The lake that welcomes the spirits of young people, if I am not mistaken.
And, as a good tourist, I sacrifice to the photo-souvenir ritual in front of the crater, before leaving ...
Magic, this little trip to Kelimutu... Really. I have a blissful smile as I get back in the car. "Saya senang!" I say to Misir, who smiles indulgently at my efforts to speak his language.
To learn more about this strange volcano, some explanations at the end of these two links:
→ Wikipedia: Kelimutu Volcano
→ Activolcans: Kelimutu