Cycling at Flores
Flores is one of the islands of the Lesser Sunda islands in Nusa Tenggara, a part of eastern Indonesia. It's a magnificent island that has a lot to offer to tourists. For cyclists it is also an excellent island as you can fly in to either Labuanbajo, Ende or Maumere.
I flew in to Maumere and cycled my way back to Bali. (with the exception of Sumbawa which I did by night bus). Cycling at Flores is despite the tropical heat not difficult although I recommend to cycle early in the morning and later in the afternoon to avoid the midday heat, especially along the coastline.
Flores is quite an empty island with only 1.5 million people living here. For a small population as Flores has, there are surprisingly many languages spoken.
Although the main language, Bahasa Indonesia, is widely spoken, the local languages all have roots in the Austronesian family.
Therefore you may find in some villages people who do not understand Bahasa Indonesia (let alone English), especially some elder people.
The name Flores comes from the Portuguese word for "flowers". The Portuguese were the first to start trading and bringing missionaries in the 16th century.
Because of the Portuguese, the population almost entirely Roman Catholic with the exception of some villages on the coastline (like Labuanbajo) where traders from other islands came and stayed, bringing with them the Muslim religion.
The most famous tourist attraction in Flores is Kelimutu Park and Mountain. The park is located north of Ende and Mone and contains the three colored lakes.
The lakes are in the crater and the reason the water is colored has to do with the oxidation state of the lake. It is the volcanic gasses that creates the colors in the lake. The colors change but there is no pattern in this.
The many villages offer a rich culture in ikat weaving. Like Sumba the ikat weaving tradition is still done by hand. It seems that every village has its own typical style and patterns.
Diving enthusiasts will enjoy areas around Maumere where diving and snorkeling is possible. Although it is nowhere as good as Komodo, it is worth the effort to check it out. Dynamite fishing and natural disasters have damaged the coral reefs.
The Komodo Dragon, although mostly known to live at Komodo, Rinca and a few surrounding islands is also to be found at Flores. Together with the Giant Flores Rat these two animals can quite easily been found, especially if you are in a quiet area and keep quiet.
Labuanbajo is a town often visited by tourists. Here you can arrange your trip to Komodo or Rinca. Divers may find the town interesting as you can go diving with sharks. Although the town itself might not be too exciting, there are traditional villages (Luba, Bena) in the area and worth a visit for their tradition al houses.
Labuanbajo is a fishing village. Not surprisingly the market of the town is a central point for surrounding villages to come here for shopping.
Accommodation and Hotels at Flores
Accommodation and Hotels at Flores outside the bigger cities as Ende and Maumere is basic, for most of the time. Labuanbajo, as a tourist attraction for visiting the Komodo Islands have some very nice hotels but in reality you can find easily accommodation which is cheap (though basic).
In between you can ask the locals for a place to stay, which is usually not a big problem, for a small fee.
Getting there and away
There are two ways to travel to and from Flores: air and boat.
Flores has 3 airports, all serving flights to and from Bali and other islands including Java, Sulawesi and Timor. Flights are not very reliable but should go on a daily base.
Flores has sea connections with Sumbawa, Sumba, Timor, Sulawesi and some other smaller islands with on going connections further in the Indonesian archipelago.
Getting around is quite easy though seldom very comfortable. The ongoing roads are not bad but they're good for cycling although in the central highlands, you have to do your share of climbing. Some areas require a jeep. Going into the Kelimutu park can be best done with an day or two day tour from Ende or Mone.
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