Climbing a volcano & walking 30kms

Trip Start Oct 03, 2012
Trip End Nov 28, 2013

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What I did

Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kelimutu day was upon us and we started off a little later in the morning from Moni after switching our accommodation from Bintang Lodge to Awanty Home Stay. (We ended-up staying in the owners sisters place next door and was woken-up before 6am by mad roosters, screaming kids, and the room was basic at best...)

Moni sits just beneath the main trek up to Kelimutu so most people come here or get dropped off.

Beautiful trek. We ascended from Moni past it's waterfall and hot water springs up on a windy road through small hamlets and villages dotted on either side. The trek takes you up into the rice paddies set into the small valleys that cut into Kelimutu's lush and green profile. Amongst the rice paddies the local villagers tended to neat rows of chilli plants, garlic, corn and cabbages as well as rice. Banana trees were dotted along the road standing proud with full bunches of green bananas, and cows munching-away stuck their heads randomly out of bushes or roamed along the road attached by their nostrils to ropes tied around trees. The small villages were full of noise as we passed through - roosters, chickens, goats and hogs providing the backdrop to children playing outside their wooden homes and the banging and grinding of rice and coffee.

People are genuinely welcoming and happy to see you pass by. Children would run out in droves screaming 'Hello Mister', 'Where You From?', 'Where you going?' or simply screaming 'Manchester United!' or ' Chelsea!'. Yep premiership football is global. Every single one of them were laughing, waving with the men offering an Ojek ride up Kelimutu and the women red mouthed from chewing betel nut.

As we ascended the undulating road up through the rice paddies and neat patches of chilli's, cabbages and corn the Kelimutu panorama unravelled beneath us and the clouds got closer and then dropped below us as we approached the summit and entrance to Kelimutu National Park.

Life is slow here and there is a charge for everything including your camera to take pictures upon entry. It took our man a long time to realise that he had to open the safe to get our change and realise that his half finished fag wasn't the most important thing in the world. We got there eventually after signing the admissions book (150 people visited yesterday - they all signed the book!).

Getting through the gates was one thing and there was still a long hike to get to the actual craters. We eventually reached the craters by late afternoon.

The place was deserted all the tourists had left from the sunrise earlier leaving us with the run of the place. The views of the 3 different coloured craters were simply stunning in the late afternoon light and it was easy to understand how the place holds a religious and mystical quality for the locals.

Our descent from the craters of Kelimutu was in the dark. It was beautiful. The moonlight was so bright that there was no need for a torch and the Milkyway stretched across the sky like a silvery mist - we lost count of the falling stars that we saw.

Contrary to our belief that there would be plenty of opportunity to get an Ojek back down to Moni, we were left with the deserted reality of empty roads. We forgot that village life in reality means bed early when it gets dark and up early when the sun rises - there was no way other than walking back!

Still the rice paddies illuminated by the moon and cows shifting out of the shadows making us jump made the journey down unforgettable.

We reached Moni around 6:30 in the evening after walking more than 30 km's and had achieved what most tourist can't be bothered to do - a hike both up and down Kelimutu.

Our favourite Chenty cafe & restaurant was closed so we had to make do at Bintang for some grub.  They made it clear they were doing us a favour by serving food so late (18:30...) and provided a plate of fries that fitted neatly into a saucer (16 fries only made from 1 small potato) and packet noodles mixed with tomato ketchup. The price was Moni price need I say anymore...

Great day on Kelimutu!
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