Flores: Bajawa, Gunung Inerie and Ngada Villages
Before coming to Flores we knew that roads would be winding and the pace at which you’re driving slow. So we opted to spend three nights in the mountainous Bajawa area to enjoy cooler temperatures and relax.
Accommodation standards in Flores (maybe apart from Labuan Bajo) are not very high yet and even if you wanted to splurge, you would have a hard time doing so. One place that caught our attention was the Manulalu Bed & Breakfast (misleading name as they serve meals all day long). Run by someone with experience from Bali, it is surprisingly quirky and we really enjoyed our three nights there for a reasonable 500’000 IDR per night. Every morning we enjoyed our breakfast with a magnificent view of the valley and Gunung Inerie.
Somehow I had the urge to climb Gunung Inerie while I was there. A guide was arranged at short notice and we left the next morning at 5.30am. I hadn’t done a lot of tough hiking before but I must saw that was really exhausting. As you can tell from the shape of the mountain, we went uphill for two hours straight. Have a look at the GPS data below and you’ll see what I mean:
Covered in sweat we reached the top, only to meet a group of half a dozen local boys that were chilling out at the top at 2200 m.a.s.l. While I was wearing proper hiking boots, some of the guys weren’t even wearing shoes.
Going down was tricky as well and we ended almost sandsurfing part of the descent. We were back in the hotel shortly after 10am – apparently way earlier than we were expected.
The following days we spent exploring the area and visited two traditional villages, Bena and Luba. These two well preserved Ngada villages, the local tribe. Luckily we were there off season and were almost the only tourists. I imagine it can feel quite awkward with many tourists around. In Bena you are asked for a donation when you enter.
Next to Bena and Luba, a “regular” village is growing. The vast majority of villagers is catholic and what surprised us is that apparently it is normal to have large graves with your ancestors in your front-yard. We walked around town on a Sunday afternoon and saw many people sitting (and even dancing) on the graves. Well, I guess the deceased are visited more often than if buried in a cemetery.
On the last day we visited the market in Bajawa. While nothing to write home about, it was interesting to see the abundance of fresh produce growing on the island. The avocados were superb (three giant pieces for less than $1). A pity that we can only buy the overpriced, tiny variety from the USA in Singapore.
I would definitely recommend spending two nights in Bajawa. The climate is beautiful with chilly mornings and evenings. The scenery is stunning and the Ngada villages along with Gunung Inerie make for some great day trips.
Location of Manulalu Bed & Breakfast: