Photo pose in front of the Kelimutu craters. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
Photo pose in front of the Kelimutu craters. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)

Kelimutu, the volcano to the spirits

  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 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 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-roadas my driver says. A "snake-road" that unrolls fabulous landscapes of rice fields and volcanic reliefs at every bend. Sometimes vertiginous, always splendid...

The road to Flores. Indonesia, July 2011.
The road to Flores. Indonesia, July 2011.
Rice fields, Flores. Indonesia, July 2011.
Rice fields, Flores. Indonesia, July 2011.
Rice fields, Flores. Indonesia, July 2011.

I wouldn't have made this trip in bemo, those local mini-buses 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: shocks in good condition and air conditioning. It's no luxury on this asphalt snake in perpetual work. Besides, I can ask Misir to stop whenever 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. 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!

My driver Misir chatted with a little boy. Flores, Indonesia, July 2011.
My driver Misir chatted with a little boy. Flores, Indonesia, July 2011.

While we climb towards Kelimutu, turn after turn, I watch the clouds still hanging on 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 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

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...

Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia. July 2011.
Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia. July 2011.

Misir accompanies me to the first lake. He was right, it's easy: a path with steps, going up a gentle slope. Then flat ground, by a shady path, which leads, on the right, to the first point of view on the Kelimutu craters.


Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia. July 2011.
Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia. July 2011.

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 excursions. They greet me nicely: "Hello!" I answer "Pagi!" And even, I add: "Saya orang perancis"because everyone wants to know where I come from ... guaranteed success.

Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia. July 2011.

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 aptly named Inspiration Point. An eminence, at the top of a staircase, which allows to glance at the three craters.

Tourists at Kelimutu. Flores, Indonesia. July 2011.
Inspiration Point. Tourists at Kelimutu. Flores, Indonesia. July 2011.

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! Whoo!

Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia. July 2011.

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 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. 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.

Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia. July 2011.
Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia. July 2011.
Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia. July 2011.

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.

Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia. July 2011.

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 ...

Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia. July 2011.

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.

To learn more about this strange volcano, some explanations at the end of these two links:
→ Wikipedia: Kelimutu Volcano
→ Activolcans: Kelimutu


  Indonesia: Flores + Komodo + Bali - July 2011

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  1. You are right to succumb to the tourist photo from time to time. Moreover this one reinforces the extreme beauty of the landscape. And, it helps to make us dream!

  2. @The other girl: I knew this excursion would arouse your admiration... 😆

    @Pac ': The tourist says merki... 😀 And if it makes you dream, then...

  3. I like !!!

    It's been a while since I want to go hang out my shoes in this corner, you'll have done before me!

    Thank you for this report 🙂

  4. Cool! 🙂

    Going there at 5am when the sun rises is also an experience, accompanied by a ginger-coffee seller and his wolf, you feel like you're on another planet, the cold is biting, there's a sea of clouds, fog, dark craters... 😕 suddenly a ray of sunshine clears the clouds and you see the acid green of the nearest lake appear. 8)

    Then the songs of the birds (the Kelimutu is a reserve highly esteemed by ornithologists), once the sun is higher, you go from shadow to light, you feel as if you have crossed the Styx and returned from the underworld. 🙄

    1. Indeed, it's about what I lived, but we had to wait an hour in the cold before seeing something. If I had read before this post, I would not get up at 4am, because for the photos it is indeed better a little later (the lakes are not in the light at sunrise, especially black) .

    2. I realize with horror that I left plenty of shells in my comment: what horror!
      Of course we had to read: "We had to wait an hour in the cold before seeing ..."
      I will not do it anymore, I promise!

    3. Thank you Corinne!
      Spelling errors outrage me outrageously, it's my side "old con / text, it was better before the screens."

    4. @Robin: mouhahaha... At work, I spend my time tracking them down, the fôôôtes on screen... But when I'm not working and it's not coming from my keyboard, I let it go... (In my department, it's always the old cunt that I am that is asked to check the agreement of the past participle and other things that should be acquired since the fourth grade, which earns me the nicknames of "mistress" or "syntax nazi" 😀 )

  5. From the kelimutu lake to the lake of Genova, what a beauty! Bravo for the text and the photos. 🙂

  6. @Elyes: Yes, the view is really stunning !!!

    @Thib: You should like it, Flores. For real walkers (not like me), there are great treks to do, between villages, rice fields and volcanoes ... I still have plenty to tell!

    @ Ludovic / Wet & Sea: Other atmosphere ... I really like the idea of arriving with the loupiotte, too.

    @Manta: Ah, that, yes! Unforgettable, this little excursion ...

    @Ysbilia: Terima kasih baniak!

    @Laurence: Thank you ! Nice to have managed to transport you in some photos ...

  7. I must be the only one to ask the question ... but I ask it anyway: swimming forbidden ^^?
    Can we get closer to the lake with the clouds, the one who is cursed? There are legends around ...?

  8. It's very beautiful! Really Indonesia, it's really a diamond, it would take years to see all the riches!
    To say that I only know North Sumatra!

  9. Thank you for the article, it looks really beautiful all that!
    Arf, it gives me ideas for a future trip ... How long does it take to join Maumere Labuan Bajo?

  10. @Martinoo: You're welcome... 🙂

    @Piotr: Well, nothing's off-limits. But if you like chemical baths... 😆 I didn't understand if it was the black lake or the other blue lake that was supposed to welcome the spirits of the elderly. And I'm sure there are legends, but I don't know what they are. You can probably get to all the lakes because guys have taken samples from them in the past. It must be a nice little acrobatic trek...

    @Fabrice: Yes, Indonesia, with its string of islands, offers inexhaustible discoveries ... 8)

    @ Pierre-Jean: You can get from Maumere to Labuan Bajo in at least 2-3 days by road, but then you don't enjoy anything. It's better to allow a minimum of 4 days as I did, or even a whole week to do more walks and visits of villages along the way, and also take a day to Riung, on the north coast (which I didn't do). My steps : Moni, Bajawa, Ruteng. 🙄

  11. So the 4:30 a.m. mass was in Ruteng, wasn't it? 😆

    you're gonna have to tell me as fast as you can at Jeff Mullins' house, like I'm there in two weeks. (I'm leaving tomorrow for the other beach in Weh) 🙂

  12. @ Ludovic / Wet & Sea: The Ruteng convent, my favorite place to sleep, in Flores! A haven of peace. Nothing heard: no bells for mass, motorbikes, dogs, roosters, mosque calls ...
    In Tulamben, I was able to meet Jeff quickly, a very nice guy. I was at the Liberty Dive Resort, it was top (hot powerfull shower, nickel room, dive-guide Indonesian just for me, efficient staff, helpful, adorable). The food of the restaurant is OK, but not masses of choice, and rather a little expensive for what it is. As much try the other restaurants of the wheat.
    At the LDR, they finish the extension work, you may be topping one of their new piaules ... Apart from that, it is better to be a diver, anyway, when you stay in Tulamben. It's not as good as the coast of Amed-Jemeluk-Bunutan-Lipah (where I returned anyway to take a ride on a scooter).
    Enjoy the aaaaaaother beach ... 8)

  13. I'm not going to be original but: the view is incredible! Thank you for these pictures, even if we are a little bit jealous not to be also the ones posing in front like on the last one 😉

  14. @Coralie: Before this trip, I dreamed for a long time on photos of Kelimutu, taken by other travelers, telling me: me too, one day, I'll go ... Dream accomplished!

  15. I LOOK FORWARD!!!!!
    Would you recommend a diving club especially in Labuanbajo? Is the current so strong that it is said?

  16. @Vincent: There are lots and lots of operators for diving in Labuan Bajo. Just wander down the main street to have plenty of choice.
    Then everything depends on your level, and if you dive for the day, or if you want to make a mini-cruise of 3 days, or a longer than 6 days or more ... And, of course, your budget.

    For my part, I plunged with the boat the Pascha, very good (it will be the subject of future posts). They have a second boat, the Jingo Jingo. UPDATE : the website Komodo Aventure and Pascha no longer exist ...

    I can also recommend Bertrand's boat, which I met on the spot. Tidak Apa Apa. The site: (This is the boat on which was Matthew, who intervened a little higher.)

    Finally, yes, the currents are very strong and rather treacherous. With Nusa Penida / Nusa Lembongan, off Bali, these are the most sporty dives I've ever done in my life as a diver ... Try to dive out of the full moon or black moon periods there. there will be a little less juice. But a serious operator will in principle adapt the dives and choose the sites according to the level of the participants.

  17. Hello,
    I am currently planning a trip to Indonesia for May-June 2012. I am going to visit Bali, Lombok and Flores from west to east with my boyfriend. I stumbled on your site and I want to say that your photos are very beautiful, they make me dream!

    Flores looks like an incredible island. Regarding the transport on flora, I'm looking for a guide-driver and yours seemed to be a very good. I would like to know if you can give me the coordinates of the driver guide you had to cross Flores? How much did you pay per day for the driver?

    Thank you so much! Your information will be very useful for planning my trip.

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon,

  18. @Maryse: Welcome to my Little Bubbles Elsewhere, happy to make you dream ...

    My driver Misir actually works with the Ankermi Happy Dive resort in Maumere where I was:
    There is no way to contact him, except by phone or through the resort. A very nice guy, very careful on the road, but his level of English was still quite basic.

    For a real "guide" and not just a driver, I can recommend the excellent Dino Lopez, whom I met on the road in Flores while carrying a family of Singaporeans (and who served me well at Moni for a story about overbooking). A very very good guy, very professional, who has his own car and knows Flores very well. He has an excellent level of English, he has lived abroad and therefore understands the expectations and needs of tourists. He has his website:
    The page to contact him is here:
    I do not know what rates Dino practice (it must be able to be stalled by e-mail with him), but with my driver Misir, it amounted to 3.200.000Rp for the trip of 4 days from east to west (it was necessary to add the price of one day, for its return trip: 640.000Rp x 4 + 640.000Rp = 3.200.000Rp, or about 50 € the day). You will probably find cheaper, but not necessarily with the same services (air conditioned car in good condition, a la carte itinerary, English speaking guide, etc.).

    Anyway, if you book a hotel there, they will surely help you find someone.
    Good preparations!

  19. Thank you for this information! I will probably try to contact Dino Lopez. I think having a driver guide in Flores is important, given the conditions on public transport. Thanks again for your help!

  20. Wow! Superb! They are retouched photos (I do not think but we never know). It makes you want to take off on the field! I have not yet had the opportunity to visit Indonesia, but photos like that, it makes you want!

  21. @Maryse: You're welcome ! And, yes, having your own driver-guide is an indisputable "plus" in Flores. Good preparations!

    @Lucie: No, I do not touch or very few my photos. I am content with simple adjustments: cropping, reinforcement of contrasts, possible clarification of parts that are too dark, etc. In short, nothing that "cheats" with reality. The colors of the lakes on the pictures are very real !!! That's what's crazy !!!

  22. Hello, Corinne, I leave on the Pascha in September and upon my return, I intend to cross Flores in the opposite direction and I take the name of the TO website on your guide. I can not wait to be there.

    terima kasih

    1. Sorry, I read the post just after writing my message and thanks to your info, I contacted Dino, and normally everything is ok, thank you, and know that its rates are a bit higher than those you have had but it is logical since it is really driver and especially guide.
      PS: I'm a diver and I did Egypt (of course), Sipadan, Similan, Maldives ... and so I understand your top 3 dives and I admit that my next trip is likely to be Raja Ampat with of course a huge piggy bank break
      Good bubbles

    2. @ Hervé: no problem, glad you managed to organize your trip. Dino is top, I think you should not regret your choice ... You'll tell me.

      As for Raja Ampat (I've been back since, in July 2012, I'll tell it soon in new posts), I swear it's really worth to break the piggy bank ...

      Have a nice trip !!! 8)

  23. Magic these pictures, the rise to the air relatively simple can we do it without a guide? I read that on some Indonesian volcanoes taking a guide was mandatory.

    1. @Loïc: On some volcanoes where it's quite an expedition to get there, it's better to have a guide, surely. But the Kelimutu is an easy and touristic walk that you can do in flip-flops, the locals come there on weekends with their families to walk around, nothing like a real trek... 😀