When I went to Flores last March, I met a lot of foreigners and they only found limited information about tourism in Flores on the Internet -therefore I think I need to write this experience in English. I also met a bunch of generous local people, and I think I need to pay them back by at least writing this note.
By the way, if you are too lazy to plan everything by yourself but reluctant to join the travel tour arranged by travel agency, you could contact this person to help you arrange your trip in Labuan Bajo (e.g. to rent the boat, arrange your trip to Waerebo, book bus ticket to Bali from Labuan Bajo, etc). Her name is Merry, and she’s a local people. I met her in Labuan Bajo and I ended up having a long conversation with her. She is very kind, sincere, trust-worthy, and knows Flores a lot. Anyway, if you want to use her service (and give her a little amount of tips afterwards), you can contact her through her mobile phone +62 812 3773 1154 (Merry) -btw she’s fluent in Italian and can speaks basic English. Let’s start to empower the local people while traveling 🙂
ps. 1 usd = idr 13,000
How to get there
1. Plane. I only trust Garuda for any flights to Eastern part of Indonesia. If you booked your flight well in advance, you can get idr 700,000 one way from Bali to Labuan Bajo (Flores). Lion Air or Wings Air offer cheaper flights, but let’s say I am a very selective person in terms of flying. If you don’t have any problem flying with other airplanes, then you can save around idr 200,000. Plane is slightly more expensive than bus, but it’s way faster. It takes approximately 2 hours from Bali to Labuan Bajo. The airport in Labuan Bajo is very near to the civilization and beach area, you can even walk from airport to the bayside area if you want. Taxi fee is around idr 50,000 – 75,000 from the airport to hotel in Labuan Bajo. I decided to rent a car + driver on the first day (Driver: Kristo, phone number: +62 853 37825818)
2. Bus. I used bus and Ferry to get back to Bali. If you have time, this is a good option to explore Indonesia. I need to pay idr 600,000 for the bus ticket (including Ferry) from Labuan Bajo – Bali, but this was an overpriced ticket. I used Dunia Mas travel to arrange all the bus and Ferry tickets, and I think it was around idr100,000 – idr200,000 more expensive than if you are willing to buy all the tickets on your own. Benefits of choosing this option are (1) you’ll see a lot of beautiful things along the way, and you can also go to Sumbawa and Lombok -you can make one or two days stop, but you need to discuss this with the travel agency when you are about to purchase the ticket; (2) if you like the ocean, then you’ll enjoy your time on the Ferry boat hehe and; (3) slightly cheaper. Please bear in mind if this is a 2 days and 2 nights journey.
Where to Stay
There’s plenty accommodation options in Labuan Bajo. I did my research before, and I found these two names as the alternatives if you are a budget traveler: (1) Gili Hiltop and (2) Bajo View.
I decided to stay in Bajo View because it’s cheaper. Only idr 75,000 per person, per night. Despite of the uber cheap price, I found the hostel is in strategic location and very very very clean: clean western-style toilet, shower, nice terrace, lobby and nice view. You will probably wondering now, then why is it so cheap? It’s cheap because they only provide tents, so we need to sleep inside the tent (with fan). If you are adventurous, this might not be a problem.
Link to Bajo View: http://www.bajoview.com/
There’s another cheaper option than using the official and well-known travel agents to sail on board: use the local fisherman’s boat. This might not come in handy if you can’t speak Bahasa, but I’ll tell you how.
1. If you are traveling in a group of 4 people, you can contact this person +62 812 46494117 (Erik). Erik has a cool boat with 2 bedrooms (each room consists of 2 bunk beds) with AC. We rent his boat (including snorkeling tools, food 3 times per day, snacks, coffee, and of course his and other 2 workers’ services) for idr 1,800,000 per day. Since I was traveling in a group of 3 people, we divided the cost by 3, so each person paid idr 600,000 per day. Considering his boat condition (it’s double decker) and compare to others; this was a very reasonable and good price. Imagine if you are traveling in a group of 4 people, then you only need to pay idr 450,000 per day! Btw, Erik could really cook a delish food.
If you are traveling in a group of 2 people, you can contact this person +62 822 36197761 (Faiz). He has a smaller boat compare to Erik. My sister used his boat once, and she paid an idr 500,000 rental fee per day.
Sailing on boat
Nasi goreng or fried rice, cooked by our very own sailor-man
B. Entrance Ticket
I was traveling with my foreigner friends, and they needed to pay more than I paid to enter Komodo and Rinca national park. It was a lot more expensive, I cannot remember the difference, but I think it’s more than 300%. For Rinca, they paid almost idr 300,000 and for Komodo, they paid more than idr 300,000. I honestly don’t know how much is the real entrance fee as stated in the regulation. As for Indonesian like me, we only need to pay around idr 50,000 if I am not mistaken.
How was Komodo and Rinca national park? Well, Although Komodo national park is more famous, I personally think Rinca national park was better. And also, I personally think one park is actually enough, I am not a big fan of Komodo (the animal) after all.
C. Where to Go
Beside Komodo and Rinca, I found the most interesting part of sailing was the sailing experience itself. The ocean, the sunset and sunrise, the excitement when you saw whales or even Manta fish, the fresh air, the breeze, the sky, every thing was so wondeful… oh and island-hopping. This is one of the benefits if you rent your own boat, you can even arrange the trip and make a sudden request to the sailor to make a quick stop some where.
In three days, I made stop in 6-7 islands and beaches: Rinca, Kambing, Padar, Pink beach, Komodo, Sebayur, Kanawa and Labuan Bajo at last. Padar is my number one -my favorite, make sure you visit this island and hike to the top. The view was beyond words, it was such an astonishing view. Padar is an uninhabitat island, and when we were there, we were the only ones in that island: no other boats, no other human being than us.
Yours truly on the top of Padar island
The clear water in Pink Beach
I forgot where is this
This is a normal view when you are sailing in Flores… this is sick!
Sunrise in Sebayur island
Wae Rebo: A Different World
If you have the time, and are interested in culture, it’s strongly recommended to pay a visit to Wae Rebo. The problem is, Wae Rebo is so far away from Labuan Bajo. You need at least two days from this trip.
A. How to Get There?
With Merry’s help, we bought a small bus’ ticket to Ruteng, and we paid idr 100,000 (slightly more or less) for one-way ticket. The journey took 4-5 hours with magnificent view along the way, but the road was very dangerous hehe. I couldn’t even sleep during the journey. After arriving in Ruteng, you can either rent a motorcycle (ojek) or car, or use public transportation (truck).
I picked the first option slash motor-taxi (idr 250,000. The motor-taxi driver will pick you in Ruteng, and will drive you back to the meeting point from Denge or Dintor). The motor-taxi can only drive you until Denge or Dintor, these are the last stop or village before Wae Rebo.
B. Where to Stay in Denge?
We started the journey from Labuan Bajo at 9am in the morning, arrived in Ruteng at 1pm, met our motor-taxi driver at around 1.30pm, and finally arrived at Denge at 4pm-ish. We stayed in Mr. Martin’s lodge for a night, and this was an amazing lodge (exceed my expectation). We paid idr 300,000 (or idr250,000? I am not quite sure) for a night, including dinner, 2 breakfast. It’s better to contact Mr. Martin a couple of days in advance, here’s his number +62 852 39344046.
It was nice talking to Mr. Martin, he has a deep knowledge about Wae Rebo: the culture, history and people. He speaks English. Mr. Martin was very helpful, he helped us to find our guide (fyi, you need a local guide for accompanying you to hike Wae Rebo, and to communicate with Wae Rebo’s people. Guide fee: idr 100,000).
Look at Mr. Martin’s lodge, it’s literally in the middle of the paddy field
Our dining and living room
C. Hike to Wae Rebo
I am not going to lie, the hike was tough. The total distance is 18km, and it took us 4.5 hours to get in and 3 ours to get back out. We started our trip to Wae Rebo early in the morning (7am) because we wanted to avoid the heat.
It’d help you a lot if you are (1) wearing proper shoes; (2) only bring a few things with you and; (3) bring a tumbler -you can refill your water later because you’ll find a small waterfall in the Post 1. One small backpack is enough. Oh, and if you can, you may want to bring some books for the Wae Rebo’s kiddos.
You can either get back out at the same day, or stay in Wae Rebo for a night or two. You’ll stay in a guest house (they allocate one traditional house as guest house), and for this, you’ll need to pay idr 300,000 including food. Try their banana and coffee, because it was so delish.
Don’t forget to get out of the house at night, and lying down on the grass. The view was breathtakingly awesome: a sky full of star.
Taken from the library (I think the library was the more perfect place to capture these houses)
Banana and coffee
We got back out the next morning (also early in the morning, perhaps around 7am). It was not enough actually, if you have time, then you can stay for two nights or even longer. But because one of our friends had a morning flight the day afterwards, so we decided to leave Wae Rebo early in the morning. Oh before I forget, if you have time, you can go to a cafe named Paradise Bar in Labuan Bajo and enjoy the setting sun from here.
And you give yourself away
ps. they have allowed me to publish their personal contact.