I had seen some incredible sites on my epic solo Bali to Flores and back scooter tour: mountains, gorges, black sand beaches, volcanic lakes.
As much as I like beautiful landscapes, I also enjoy seeking out the people who live there. I did this by visiting traditional Ngada villages.
I spent a lot of time in the villages, talking to the locals and photographing village life. But I had one more goal before leaving the amazing island of Flores. I wanted to spend the night in a traditional village.
The village I wanted to sleep in was Wae Rebo. It’s not a Ngada village, it is Manggaraian. It’s on top of a mountain, and its traditional houses are conical-shaped.
Getting There Is Half The Fun
Wae Rebo is far off the Trans-Flores Highway. It’s not in Google Maps. I had purchased a Flores Map in Bali, but that showed it in the middle of jungle, with no road going to it. Not very helpful.
Lonely Planet continued to be worthless. It’s just not written for independent motorbike travelers. The best source of information online is the Flores Tourism website. They have directions. Unfortunately, none of the places referred to in their directions are on any maps either!
A good source of information was the English-speaking proprietor of the Rima Hotel in Ruteng. The day before I left, another traveler drew a map. But the proprietor didn’t have copies yet. I studied the map before setting out.
The first step from Ruteng was to drive past the big church towards the mountain, up to the town of Iteng. This was easy, because there were many signs pointing the way.
It was a long drive, up mountains, with many switchbacks and blind corners. It took two hours, but was quite scenic, past numerous rice terraces. I stopped frequently for photos. A white SUV full of Indonesian tourists passed me.
“Just Follow The Coast”
Once in the little town of Iteng, I was on my own. That map would have come in handy. The directions from the Flores Tourism website referred to places not marked on maps.
The directions in the little pamphlet I had just said “follow the coast to Dintor.” I asked somebody to make sure I was going the right direction, then tried to do that.
It was not possible. I ended up at a dead end. I had to backtrack and ask directions many times. I ended up having to drive far inland through rice fields. I had to ask directions every time I came to an intersection.
People do not speak English here, so knowing “left,” “right,” and “straight” in Indonesian is useful.
Every once in a while I would see the white SUV, which encouraged me I was going the right way.
There were many turns before I came back to the coast. Finally I could follow it. The road was along a beach of stones, and mountains loomed on the horizon.
The road along the coast was deserted. There was nobody to ask directions. But then the white SUV passed me, so I knew I was going the right way.
Hiking Up The Mountain
Finally I arrived at the little town of Dintor. There was no food on the drive, which took about four hours, and I was hungry.
I stopped at the first tourist place for a basic lunch, which I supplemented with the nasi campur I bought in Ruteng. I was the only guest.
Here I made a mistake. The English-speaking proprietor said I needed a porter. He said it would cost Rp 300,000 for a non-English speaker, but the price would include the cost of staying in the village.
When I got to the village my worthless porter wanted to keep the money. The villagers wanted another Rp 300,000.
An intrepid French couple hiked up without a porter. The short drive to the start of the trail at Dengue is easy. Once on the trail you can’t get lost. Don’t waste your money on a porter.
The trail was quite strenuous. It went up, up, up the mountain, through the jungle. At the start of the hike it started to rain, making for a miserable walk.
But it was worth it. Wae Rebo village was incredible.