Kelimutu and the three color lakes

November 2016

We leave the coast and head to the middle of Flores. This route it is also offered as a 4-day trip inland activity but we didn’t have that much time so we chose to take a plane to Ende (closest airport) and later a taxi to Moni 74 kilometers away from the coast.

What should you know before going?

If Labuan Bajo looked rough and with no infrastructures compared to Bali, this is another (lower) level. As it happened before, less tourist infrastructure means more expensive accommodation situation and less quality. But you could find better hotels in Labuan Bajo. In Ende and Moni there are mostly guesthouses for the price of a good hotel (compared to Bali). But it is probable that you only stay for one night so you’re budget, won’t suffer much. There are very few restaurants and no internet (expected to have the internet in Moni in 2017)


We stayed in one of those guesthouses and went looking for some lunch. We were recommended to go to the Rainbow Cafe (a hut with a simple kitchen, it is cheap) as it is at the entrance of one of Moni’s attractions: a waterfall. We went down in a concrete walk at first that turned into a stone walk. and we just saw it. Although we were told that we could have a swim in this waterfall as it is spring water, we rejected the idea. We had dinner at Bintang and went straight to rest.



The alarm rings at 4 am, the day starts. Together we two other Spaniards (Jesús and Rafa) that we met the night before we shared a taxi to Kelimutu’s car park. Kelimutu is a volcano that has three crater lakes. If that is by itself curious, you have to take into consideration that those lakes have different colors and that they change. What? Yes, they change colors spontaneously. As they are in a volcano crater they have very potent chemical components, like sulfide, but it is the concentration of oxygen what changes the colors; so we didn’t want to miss that. After leaving the car at the carpark there are some stairs that lead you to two different viewpoints around 20 minutes from the ground.



We skipped the first viewpoint, as we were told that we could stop on our way back to see the red and blue lakes and that if we wanted to see the sunrise it was better to head straight to the highest point where we could see all three lakes. Once again, the sunrise didn’t want to greet us, and the fog was covering and discovering the lakes on and off. Nevertheless, the view was spectacular and the lakes are worth seeing.

Although the lakes are red, blue and white, we found them greenish blue, turquoise, and indigo. It would have been amazing to find them in their “original” colors but that is nature, it is also a great excuse to go back.


Popular beliefs

Although the scientific explanation about the color changing is great and understandable, the popular beliefs aren’t less exciting.

For the locals, this volcano, and these lakes are sacred. This is the place where the spirit of the death will stay, to be closer to their relatives. The lake colors and their changes are explained as it follows:


The souls of the young people go to the white lake (Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai), the souls of the elderly people to the blue lake (Tiwu Alta Mbupu) and the souls of bad/evil people (people who have done harm to others) go to the red one (Tiwu Alta Polo). They still believe that the souls are gathered in these lakes and therefore they continue with the rituals and sacrifices. In fact, as you walk up you’ll see a plaque that shows where those rituals are held.


End of the trip

And after some breakfast, we finish our trip. We go back to Ende to spend one night there (there is nothing to say about that). Our mistake in planning made us have a more relaxing day, but we could have easily flown back to Labuan Bajo or even delayed our trip to Kelimutu one day and just head back to Istanbul with fewer stops. We’ll lesson learned and at least we made sure we didn’t miss anything in Ende. We say goodbye to Indonesia eager to come back, could there be a better feeling?



Taxi airport-Moni 400.000 IDR (28€) negotiable

Accommodation at AntonEri Guesthouse 250.000 IDR (17€) per night no with breakfast

Taxi to Kelimutu 100.000 IDR (7€) per person (standard price)

Entrance to Kelimutu 150.000 IDR (10’5€) per person

Did you visit Kelimutu and it had other colors? Tell us all about it!

All about our trip to the country in our section of Indonesia.

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20 comentarios

  1. Amazing place, this lake looks really fascinating. Especially the story about the wandering of the souls to the different lakes sounds magical. Great inspiration, thank you for sharing!

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  2. Holy moly, the colours of those lakes are intense! It’s interesting to hear about the locals stories concerning these sort of places. According to Indigenous folklore, my town in Australia is said to have a giant kangaroo that goes hopping along its coastline… and it’s prone to pretty bad earthquakes, for Oz at least.

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  3. Those lakes in different colors are a sight to behold. It’s also nice to know some of the urban legends of a certain place. It makes the whole experience more magical. I haven’t been there but I would love to see it someday. For now, thanks for taking me there. 🙂

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  4. Ahhh this is just the perfect post for me. In 2016 fell in Love with Indonesia when I visited Java, Bali and Lombok. Next time I’d like to visit other Islands… I will definitely put Kelimutu and the 3 color lakes on my to do list! 🙂

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  5. Kelimutu was definitely one of my highlights in Indonesia when I visited 2 years ago – we actually hiked there all the way from Moni in the dark & got there before sunrise – the life of a budget traveller haha! I didn’t know about the local beliefs behind the coloured lakes, that’s so interesting – shows you can always keep learning about places, even after you’ve been there 🙂

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