Last year it was China, but this year I joined my parents for a 3 week road trip in Indonesia. The main idea was to cross laterally Flores, from west to east, but the task too difficult and without any major interest would be set aside. Our trip will consist of 3 parts: East of Flores, Lombok, and finally Bali. As soon as we have arrived in Indonesia, we left for Labuanbajo, port city in the east side of Flores.
We make a nice arrival in Flores. The place is very wild but Labuanbajo turns out to be an ugly town. We find here only one ATM, and some money-changers (apparently the dream work of locals). The town turns out to be very expensive compared to the rest … leaving some tourists we met really disillusioned.
Not easy to find a hotel in Labuanbajo. The city is annually surprised by the growing influx of tourists, and there is a big lack of infrastructure. Moving means for us is usually the bémo (bus / taxi from Indonesia) still led by a group of young people who ride with loud music.There is still a pretty cool decoration inside (many Disney characters in particular, but nothing Japanese), and usually the owner is very proud of his bémo.
Labuanbajo is located within a large loop road, a portion in front of the sea, and the other a little higher. Look how the houses of Labuanbajo appear from above.
We find on the street a few restaurants and bars (2 or 3) and small travel agencies offering tours to the islands of Flores. We finally find 2 hotels each with a room available so we can finally rest. We also meet an Indonesian on “vacation” in his hometown (he works in Bali, a cleaner). He proposes to visit us the next days, and obviously, I’m being cautious!
Our first destination will be the cascade of Cunca Rami. On the road, we find a village where we stop. Here I am with the village chief!
The homes, outside, are actually very aesthetic and blend beautifully with the surrounding flora.
The villagers joined us for the hike to the waterfall. All the children don’t appear to be in good health, but there is a lot of joy in the air!
There is less than an hour’s walk from the road to get to the waterfall. It actually hides in the background, and it is difficult to observe it entirely. In any case there are lavish pools here! We have a nice swim in the cool shade of the rocks up under the waterfall. The water is cool but it’s so hot that everyone is in the water.
The waterfall has a design developed by stairs. An escalation is needed to get to the top. The descent will be much more difficult, fortunately I have the help of Indonesian (my parents have not followed me).
We return and we stop again in the village. They were expecting us at the destination, with coffee and sugar cane, all that is produced locally.
I pull out my 70-200mm (lens photo). It does not impress anyone, which reassures me a little. I think I am finally relatively safe in Indonesia to take pictures. A very nice first day anyway
With the help of our Indonesian, we rent a boat just for us (with 2 sailors) for 2 days. First destination: Rinca Island and its famous lizards (Komodo Dragons)(Dragons de Komodos). I scan the island from the boat, but there is not a soul … apparently! The lizards are found only on Komodo Island Komodo Island and Rinca Island (and they are easier to find on the latter).
The dragons are actually quite gathered around the camp at the entrance of the island, for the simple fact that they find food. However, they may survive for a year with only 12 meals! They feed mainly on human corpses unearthed from cemeteries nearby, or on any kind of corpse (buffalo, goats, baby Komodo …).
Rinca Island is very beautiful, with palm heads perched very high up. The hike is very nice here, but it is so hot! Babies Komodo are supposed to live in trees, to protect themselves from their hungry dads. I wonder if they can also climb the trees…
A monitor lizard, this time found in nature. It is not easy to see one on every ride, but we will come across 3, including a very young one (I ran after him for quite a while to make a good picture but it was a defeat, he was far too fast for me). Note that the lizards have a rather particular reproductive system: in addition to the ‘standard’ process, if a female finds herself isolated, she can give birth to males by parthenogenesis which subsequently will fertilize her until obtaining female offspring. Incredible! The group must have some family stories!
There are many small islands in the east of Flores. Here, an island perfect for snorkeling or… contemplation.
We were advised to make a small circuit in the forest because of the heat, but being a bit more adventurous, we tried left by the heights of Rinca. No disappointment here.
We’ve arrived at Kanawa Island, our destination for the night! There are 14 bungalows and a restaurant where there is an hour wait (that’s if they do not forget you). The bottom of the sea is covered with gigantic urchins. Mmm, a craving for a big bowl of ikura, uni-don take me!
Evening short hike to the summit of Kanawa Island to admire the sunset.
Surprise, there are some friends of Bambi … and they have horns that scratch! Massage session with Bambi therefore, with the sunset. Then shower with salt water.
The island is deserted apart from the few tourists who come here to relax. There is a beach on the other side of the island too, where I go in the morning at the first hour. There is no one, and besides nothing. There is no real way to go, so you must either swim around the island, either walk on rocks (which cost me about a week of suffering because of a foot and legs injury). Only the challenge attracted me to do it, and it remains this colorful photo
Saraya Island, an island quite touristy, with bungalows and a restaurant also.
Here is Bidadari Island, great for snorkeling. Particularly beautiful passage between two walls of colorful corals, all under a cloud of fish. The most beautiful corals in Indonesia that we will see, it’s here. Quite difficult to find in other parts as “significant”, I hope they will resist a little longer …
Here is our boat, on the left, just for us! Unfortunately Bidadari is obviously known for its snorkeling and it is far from being alone. The boats cling to each other, according to the ties that bind our sailors.
Back to Labuanbajo for one last night. Here, a bémo from the outside.
We return to Bali by plane, to take directly a fast boat (which leaves 2 hours late, so quite equivalent to the old cheap ferry, except that we arrive with a sore back) that takes us to Lombok. New adventures, there is no time to waste!