Next to spotting Komodo dragons and scuba diving at Komodo National Park, my bucket list for Flores, Indonesia included visiting the tricolored crater lakes of Kelimutu National Park on eastern portion of the island.
I was lucky to have stayed at the best place near the scenic volcano: Kelimutu Crater Lakes Eco Lodge, a solar-powered eco-resort located at the gateway village of Moni. After roughing it out on our overland journey from Labuan Bajo to Kelimutu, it was such a relief to have arrived at the lush and sprawling resort, which was situated along a gurgling stream flanked by lush rice terraces and misty mountains. It’s the perfect place to relax and recharge while communing with nature after an arduous trans-island journey, or after making the essential trek up and around the picturesque summit of Mt. Kelimutu.
I stayed at one of the hillside thatch-roofed bungalow rooms overlooking the green valley. My room was spacious and rustic with touches of indigenous textiles, which the region is known for (If you wish to take home some, authentic fair-trade woven products are sold at the reception). The room had no air-conditioning but nights were nice and cool since because of the highland climate. The mosquito net draped over the twin beds assured me of comfortable nights ahead.
There may be no swimming pool, but Mother Nature offers a natural alternative in the form of a clean and shallow stream running through resort. It’s a great place to cool off on a hot day, or spend some quiet time sitting on a boulder with your feet in the flowing water while drinking in the serenity of the countryside. Besides taking a dip at the small river, one can also take a swim at Murondao Waterfall, a short walk from Rainbow Cafe at the village center of Moni.
Accommodation at the resort starts at USD 85 (PHP 4,123) for a standard twin or double room, while bungalow-type rooms are at USD 95 (PHP 4,608), inclusive of breakfast for two, taxes and service charge. Check for the best room rates here.
Since the resort is located outside the village center where most guesthouses and eateries are located, the most accessible place to dine would be the resort’s own restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. While prices were more expensive than the eateries in Moni, the meals I had were generously portioned. Dishes ranged from IDR 25,000 (PHP 93) to IDR 58,000 (PHP 216). Among the best Indonesian dishes I had were nasi goreng (fried rice), cap cai (chicken and vegetable stir-fry), tempe goreng (fried soybean cake) and satay (chicken, fish, beef barbecue). If you want more dining options, the village center is only a 15 minute walk from the resort, or you can take a quick hop by ojek motorbike.
How to Get There
The nearest airport to Kelimutu National Park is located in Ende, which is connected by flights to Bali via Labuan Bajo. Vans and buses traveling from Ende to Maumere pass by the resort in roughly two hours. Private transfers to and from the airport can also be arrange by the resort through advanced notice. Maumere’s airport is an alternative gateway with direct flights to Bali.