A lot of folks get their sunrise selfies in front of the Kelimutu crater lakes, then head out.

That’s a shame, because the area around Kellimutu is beautiful in its own right. It’s an idyllic landscape of rice terraces, traditional villages, forest, and hot springs.

Looking For Villages

I wanted to spend a day hiking to some of the villages and hot springs. But it was hard to find information.

As usual, Lonely Planet didn’t have any maps. The only map was on a sign in the parking lot, which I took a picture of with my phone. The map showed a clear red line that led past several villages and hot springs.

Into the rice fields.
Into the rice fields.

I drove up and down the park road looking for that red line without luck. I showed a ranger my map and he said to look for a kilometer marker. I drove to the spot, where there was a small unmarked trail.

I hiked for a while. It was a nice walk through the forest, down the mountain into rice terraces. I was the only person on the trail. If it were going to villages, it seemed like there wold be locals using the trail.

The trail kept getting smaller and smaller, then petered out. Some grass was trampled, and looked like the trail may have went there. But I had visions of getting lost alone in the wilderness, so headed back.


I never found the villages, but it was a nice walk. There are guys hanging around in the parking lot that say “where you go?” I think they could be hired to guide you. But I was tired from getting up at 4, so I headed back to Moni for a nap.

Looking For Hot Springs

In the afternoon I figured I’d use the map to visit some hot springs. There were several clearly marked on the road up to Kelimutu.

I drove up and down the road. It was beautiful, with rice terraces everywhere. But there was no sign of any hot springs.

I’d give up on the hot springs and look for a waterfall instead.

I parked near where the map had a bright red trail line drawn. There was no apparent trail. I waited until some villagers came by. I asked where the trail to the waterfall was. They went and got a guy that would guide me.

An idyllic place.
An idyllic place.

My guide led me along the concrete drainage ditch. There was no trail! Finding these sites is impossible on your own.

It was a hot sweaty uphill walk through the forest to the waterfall. On the way back my guide led me to some hot springs that would be impossible to find alone. They steamed higher up on the mountain. There was a bamboo pipe that piped the water down to a pool. Taking a quick bath in it was refreshing.

So when visiting Kelimutu, spend some time exploring the area. You don’t need an overpriced car and driver. Local folks are always available to guide you.

You need a guide here.
You need a guide here.
Admiring  the waterfall.
Admiring the waterfall.
Stopping for a refreshing bath.
Stopping for a refreshing bath.
I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.

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