This time we will go cycling around traditional villages and mountain areas in the district capital of Ngada, called Bajawa. This charming medium-sized town known for its rich culture and well-preserved traditional villages is situated 1,200 metres above sea level. Surrounded by volcanoes on three sides makes the weather cool (16-24 degree of Celsius) and is often rainy. Nevertheless, if you are equipped appropriately, Bajawa and its nearby area are really nice for cycling.
One of the best options to explore the area on bike is to do a round trip tour from Bajawa to traditional villages nearby in 1 full day. I recommend you starting early morning (don’t forget to bring food and water) with a short uphill ride to Watujaji bus station. From there, turn left in direction of Ende towards the village of Mangulewa while enjoying the majestic scenery of Mount Inerie and the Wolotopo Hill surrounded by thin mist. Turn right from Mangulewa at the sign “To Bena” and follow the up and down-hill road and through the forests towards the traditional villages of Bena and Luba.
A visit to these traditional villages is truly one of the cultural highlights in the district of Ngada or even on whole Flores! Park your bike near Bena Information Center (Sao Wisata Bena), then register and donate at the entrance. Prepare to feast your eyes with the authenticity and megalithic ancestral stones this village has been well-known of. Do not miss the stunning views of forests on the south and the impressive Mount Inerie in the north.
Start the way back towards Bajawa after a rest and lunch early in the afternoon since it’s a long and steep uphill-road. At Tiworiwu (2 kilometres after Bena) turn left for the direct way towards Bajawa. Once you’ve reached the saddle point with a junction to the Inerie trekking-path, enjoy an intermediate downhill into a beautiful bamboo-forest before another steep uphill towards Watumese. You’ll find a small road junction to the left (300 metres) to another traditional village named Bela, with a rewarding sight to the steep and picturesque slope of Nariwoto Hill.
Bela is a smaller and less touristic village, so if you decide to visit it as well, this is a good opportunity to have small chat with the locals while drinking local coffee together (we encourage you to give a small donation to the family, so they can buy sugar afterwards). From Bela, it will take another 30 minutes up to the Watujaji Bus station and then steep and curvy down-hill road for 2km before reaching the city.
This 1-day round-trip cycling tour can easily be extended to a 2-days tour with an overnight stay on the veranda of one of the friendly families at Tololela Village, another village close to Bena. On this 2-day trip you can include visits to Wogo, Wogo Lama and Gurusina. For bike rent, please contact Bajawa Tourist Information Center (across Hotel
Edelweiss) or Happy-Happy Hotel. If you are planning to stay longer in Ngada district and wish exploring it on the bike, there are several round-trip cycling tours can be done from Bajawa to other attractions, such as Wawomuda Crater, down-hill trip either to Oghi Waterfall or to the Mangeruda hotspring.
What’s next? We are going to share you the potential place for cycling – with amazing and flat tour possibilities – in Riung and Mbay, on the north coast of Flores.
Text and photos by Oskar Ruch