Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:
"And you have to walk long, to see the Kelimutu? "No, 10-15 minutes maximum. " I am wary of Indonesian minutes, often elastic.
But Matheus Misir, my guide-driver in Flores, says true. The spectacular Kelimutu volcano, with its three craters, which form giant pools for three lakes with strange colors, is an easy ride.
Perfect ! Am a diver, me, not a trekker ...
The "serpent road" of Flores
In fact, most of the journey is by car. The Kelimutu is roughly half an hour's drive from the small village of Moni, where we spent the night. A small winding road that climbs, climbs ...
Anyway, wherever you go to Flores, the road is permanently a "Snake-road"as my driver says. A "snake road" that unfolds fabulous landscapes of rice paddies and volcanic reliefs at each turn. Sometimes dizzying, always splendid ...
I would not have made this trip in bemo, these local minibuses overloaded with goods and passengers ... All along this crossing from east to west, from Maumere to Labuan Bajo, I enjoyed the comfort of my private car : dampers in good condition and air conditioning. It's not luxury, on this asphalt snake in perpetual works. And then, I can ask Misir to stop when I want to take pictures.
I also very much appreciate his driving safely. From the start, he asks me nicely if it's okay, if his behavior suits me.
Yes Yes, "Bagus", it's good. Given the unexpected obstacles on the road - poultry, cows, children, rocks, motorcycles, broken bemos, potholes - I find it nickel that he drives quietly, "Pelan-pelan".
With Misir, I'm going to practice my Bahasa Indonesia four days!
As we climb towards the Kelimutu, turn after turn, I watch the shreds of cloud still hanging on top. The sun has just risen.
The Kelimutu is beautiful, provided you do not end up in the fog. The summit rises to 1,639 meters. When the volcano is in the clouds, everything is gray, there is nothing to see! But we are lucky. Today, as we arrive, it's the big blue above our heads. Mist scarves are tearing apart.
A few bends later, we see a little lady who beckons us on the roadside, stuck in a big jacket - it's cool in the heights. She asks if we can go up to the Kelimutu Park. I'm waving yes: "Tidak apa apa", no problem. Misir is happy, he can chat in Indonesian with our hitchhiker.
She put a big ball beside her in the back seat. of the ikat, carefully folded and stacked, that she will try to sell to tourists in the parking lot of the park.
Kelimutu National Park
A few minutes later, we are there. Entrance ticket bought at the counter, car parked on the parking lot. What? 50,000 rupees more for the camera? Mince, 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 steep steps. Then flat ground, by a shaded alley, which leads, on the right, to the first point of view on the craters of Kelimutu.
I have the sun in front, not great for photos, but no matter ... I open my eyes, it's worth all the pictures of the world. A thin rampart of jagged stone separates the two lakes.
The lake on the right, on the pictures above, is called Ata Polo. It can take a red-brown color. For now, it is rather dark blue-green.
The one on the left (which I will discover better after, while gaining height) is Lake Nuamuri Ko'ofai. When I arrive, the sun does not illuminate it yet. In full light, it turns to acid green, almost fluo.
The place is popular. Locals also come here on an excursion. I am greeted gently: " Hello ! " I answer: "Pagi! " And even, I add: "Saya orang perancis"because everyone wants to know where I come from ... guaranteed success.
But yes, yes, sir, I speak the Bahasa Indonesia! Finally just a little, what, "Setikit", I'm not going to sit there talking to you for hours, telling you my life, telling you if I'm traveling alone or in a group, whether I'm married or not, and how many children I have, because that there is the green lake and the black lake waiting for me up there, see you, so goodbye and see you soon maybe ...
Pfff. No way to quietly 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 aptly named Inspiration Point. An eminence, at the top of a staircase, which allows to glance at the three craters.
There, Misir lets me go up alone. He prefers to go back to the parking lot, chat with his colleagues. I attack the climb, enthusiastic. Walking after walking, the panorama becomes even more grandiose.
And when I get to the top ... Wow! Wow!
I did well not to come too soon. Many tourists come here shortly before 6 am, for the sunrise. Except at this hour, there is mist everywhere and the lakes are still in the shadows.
It certainly has its charm too, the shreds of mist over 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 filled with sulfur lights up as the sun goes up in the sky. Its color, an intense turquoise green, seems almost supernatural.
On the other side of Inspiration Point, there is the third lake, the black lake, Ata Mbupu. Again, I'm lucky. It is often hidden under a cloud of opaque clouds. But these fray gradually under my eyes. We end up seeing the whitish cliff of the crater fringed with greenery reflected in the ink of the water. Amazing.
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 young people go, another for the elderly, and the third lake, evil or magical, would welcome evil spirits (for what I understand explanations that were given to me ).
I turn around to watch the evolution of the acidic green lake. The sun is higher in the sky. The color of the water is even more violent than before. I redo some images, watching from the corner of my eye the clouds that I see appearing on the horizon.
This is really the most beautiful. The lake that welcomes the minds of young people, if I'm not mistaken.
And, as a good tourist, I sacrifice to the photo-souvenir ritual in front of the crater, before leaving ...
Magical, this little excursion to Kelimutu ... Really. I display a smug smile on my way back to the car. "Saya senang! " I say to Misir, who smiles indulgently at my efforts to speak his language.