Lake Kelimutu is one of the best things to do on Flores Indonesia. Flores is therefore not only the starting point for excursions to the Komodo National Park, but also offers some more things to do like the hike to mount Kelimutu. Near Moni are the crater lakes of the Kelimutu volcano. This volcano is not extinct yet, but the last eruption occurred in 1968. The three lakes, which are located in its craters, glow in red, blue or black depending on the time of day and season in the Kelimutu National Park.
The reason for this is dissolved minerals from the earth’s interior that get into the lakes. The gray volcano with its brightly shining lakes forms a stark contrast to the otherwise evergreen landscape of Flores. This is definitely one of the best things to do in Flores.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
How to get to Kelimutu National Park?
From Labuan Bajo, we took a plane to Ende on the south coast of Flores in less than an hour. When you arrived at the airport Ende you are immediately surrounded by several drivers who want to take you on the one hand for 300.000 IDR (approx. 18 €) directly to Moni or for 50.000 IDR (approx. 3 €) to the approx. 5 km distant bus station. Unfortunately, bargaining hardly brings anything with the drivers. After several minutes, we were able to bargain a driver down to at least 40.000 IDR to get to the bus station.
Once there, we took the bus to go to Moni. Per person the trip should cost 20.000 IDR (approx. 1,50 €). That sounded like a good price. After we had stowed our much too heavy luggage in the bus, we had to get off again, because the bus should not go to Moni.
We have read that this is a notorious trick of the cab mafia to drive the gullible tourists into the overpriced cabs. But in our case it seemed to be true.
After we waited about 1 hour, talked to several bus drivers and got in and out of the bus twice, we took a small minibus to Moni for now 30,000 IDR per person. From the main road it was then another 5 minutes by scooter(we just asked someone in front of a guesthouse if he could drive us) to our homestay*.
Even if the journey by bus took a little longer, it was the best solution for us to get something of normal life. From the bus station in Ende to Moni it was a 1,5 hour drive, which flew by with the breathtaking green view from the bus window.
Homestay Recommendation near Kelimutu Lake
We stayed at Geckos Homestay and felt totally comfortable there. Not only are the owners totally nice and the small huts totally cozy, but there are also lots of cute dogs. We can only recommend this homestay to every dog lover.
How to get to Lake Kelimutu?
From Moni there are 4 ways to get to Kelimutu Volcano:
- You can be driven up with a car (Private Car)
- You can be driven up with a scooter
- Rent a scooter and drive yourself up to the crater
- Do you want to save money? Then walk from Moni to the crater (and down again)
For just under IDR 250.000 we had a driver organized by our guesthouse to take us up to the parking lot. This took about 45 minutes and was of course very comfortable. If we hadn’t walked down, the driver would have been waiting at the top to take us back down as well.
Get a ride by scooter
Pay IDR 150.000 per person and you’ll be taken to the top by scooter. If there are two of you, then it is not worth it financially.
Drive up yourself with the scooter
We think that the best and cheapest way to get to the Kelimutu Crater is to go up by scooter. The road to the summit was completely resurfaced in 2018 and is therefore very good to drive. Also, you can still use the scooter in the afternoon for other activities.
If you like hiking very much and also want to save the entrance fee, you can also hike up to Kelimutu and back down again. Since the hiking trail meets the road far behind the entrance gate to Kelimutu National Park, you save the entrance fee of IDR 150.000 per person. The trail from Moni is about 11km long and takes 3-5h depending on your condition.
When to visit Kelimutu National Park?
The vast majority of people want to be at Kelimutu Lake early for sunrise. If you leave Moni around 4 am and walk in the pitch dark the last part up to the crater you have a good chance to see a spectacular sunrise. Since the effort to get up so early was too much for us and we didn’t want to share the experience with many other tourists, we decided to go up relaxed after breakfast.
At this time we met no other western tourists and only a few Indonesian ones. We had the craters almost for us and that is sometimes worth more than a beautiful sunrise, which you share with a hundred others.
So if you don’t really want to see the sunrise – which can be cloudy all too often – take your time and go there in the morning (or even in the afternoon).
Our Experiences at the Kelimutu Lake
After we were dropped off at the parking lot around 10 am, we walked the well signposted trail uphill a bit for about 20 minutes until we arrived at the Kelimutu lake. The contrast between the gray, rugged rocks and the turquoise blue water in the lakes really blew us away the first time we looked down. One walks unsuspectingly towards the first viewpoint and then has the free view almost vertically down.
The two blue lakes are right next to each other and can be viewed from different vantage points. We also walked past the barriers and were able to discover other viewpoints of the lakes. The two blue lakes are separated only by a narrow ridge. The third, smaller lake is a bit off the beaten path and visually not that spectacular.
The whole time we saw only a few other tourists and some groups of young people wanted to take selfies with us. On the main path between the two big lakes there are also some stands where you can buy souvenirs and snacks. After about 2 hours of taking pictures we started the way back.
Thereby we made a small detour through arboretum. This is a kind of mini-jungle with different species of plants and trees, which are also provided with small signs, so that you know what you have in front of you. Very interesting and a welcome change from the main trail.
After we arrived back at the parking lot, our descent to Moni began.
How to get back to Moni?
We had decided to drive up to Kelimutu with a private car and hike down. Not necessarily to save money, but because we had heard how beautiful the hike from Kelimutu volcano down to Moni should be. You would pass hot springs and a waterfall and walk through dense forests with lots of monkeys. None of this we can confirm!
The first time the hike was still quite nice. It runs steeply down and has thereby often a free view in the valley and partly even on the distant ocean. But after about 1-2 hours the picture changes and at the latest when you pass the “Traditional Village” Pemo(which is actually not traditional at all, but a normal village) the route is only getting exhausting (constant up and down) and also the beauty of the surrounding landscape keeps within limits.
How long does the hike to lake Kelimutu take???
After more than 3 hours of hiking we looked at the map and realized that we had not even completed half of the distance from the edge of the Kelimutu lake to Moni! Considering the time and also our condition we decided to ask someone if he could take us by scooter down to Moni. No sooner said than done and for 80.000 IDR per person (about 5 €) 2 guys on their scooters brought us down to the village in about 40 minutes.
Hot Springs and the Waterfall in Moni
Apart from that you don’t really pass the “attractions” like the Hot Springs or the waterfall on the way down. The waterfall is located directly in Moni (near the Rainbow Cafe) and the Hot Springs would mean a detour on the hike to Moni and even cost an entrance fee.
Therefore, our clear recommendation, if you do not necessarily want to save money and you really enjoy hiking, then do not walk down. I also can not imagine that some manage the descent in 2-3 hours, as we have read in various blogs. But maybe we are just not that good on foot.
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Other Activities in Moni
Apart from the very unspectacular Murundao Waterfall in Moni and the naturally beautiful and lush green landscape, there is one more attraction we don’t want to deprive you of: The Tiwu Kea Canyon.
A guy we met in our guesthouse told us about this canyon. He talked about a cave and a waterfall not far from Moni. But he did not know exactly where they were. This activated our adventurous spirit and so we researched on Google Maps.
There we quickly found the point where we had to go. After about 30 minutes of driving we parked our scooter on a small field next to the road and started the hike down to the Tiwu Kea river. You can find the exact location here on Google Maps.
Tiwu Kea Canyon
Down there, neither a canyon nor a waterfall awaited us (at least we didn’t see any of them), but instead a really idyllic river that narrowed into a respectable canyon. To get to the canyon, you have to walk through the river and sometimes even swim, as the water reaches up to your belly at times.
While you swim through the water, the rocks pile up above you to form a huge canyon and sometimes even a real roof over the river. In some places lianas hang down from the rocks and you can swing from one side to the other. A great experience.
Beaches close to Moni
If you still need some beach feeling during your stay on Flores, just drive to Mbuliwaralau Beach, which is not far away, or directly to the famous Koka Beach, which is another 1h away from the Tiwu Kea River. Since we have not been to either of these beaches, we cannot give any further tips.
By the way, an important information is that there is an ATM in Moni – contrary to other reports. This ATM is located not far from the Rainbow Café in the middle of Moni.
What did you experience at Kelimutu Volcano or do you have any other tips for the area? Just tell us and write us a comment!
More information and tips about the island of Flores in Indonesia can be found here: