After several features on cycling in Flores, I hope that you are now become more familiar with Flores’ terrain conditions. On this month’s article, we are going to one of my favourite regions for cycling: the area of Riung and Mbay, along the central part of the north coast.
Both Riung and Mbay are special for being so remote and their off-the-beaten tracks. The tracks are mostly flat along the coastline with less technical challenges that makes it convenient for cyclists. Beware though, despite of its beautiful scenery, these are also one of the hottest regions on Flores. Thus, always prepare sunblock, hat and plenty of drinking water.
A good start to explore this extraordinary cycling area is starting with a daytrip from Bajawa – over 75km to Riung- on the north coast. Around the first 20km is a nice and relaxing medium-sized downhill road to reach Soa sub-district or Mangeruda hot spring. This is the market place next to the small airport and thermal area as well. Have a breakfast break at the small warung opposite the market before proceeding to the countryside.
Behind Soa, take direction of Riung and immediately the road gets more and more secluded and it is also the starting point of challenging road conditions. Nice scenery will greet you and at least 3 medium to heavy and long uphill sections through nice mountain forests. At around KM50 of this tour, the long and often varying downhill approach for Riung begins. Ask frequently the villagers for direction due to lack of road signs. Once arrived at the coast, turn left and you will arrive at the small and fishermen town of Riung. I recommend staying overnight after the no-less-than 6-hour cycling.
Apart from good snorkelling in Riung 17 Islands Marine Park you can do here, there are some short bike tours along the coastline you can explore. You can visit local fishermen settlement usually comprising of rural stilt-houses set with mangrove forest as the background. If you have even more time to go further to the west you will find a small resort of “4 Pohon” (Les 4 Arbres) which is around 27km from Riung to the west. Ask around for the French owner Olivier. He run himself this eco-friendly resort which offers other outdoor activities.
You’ll experience a very nice tour to Mbay in direction to the east which is in general flat. The trip will take you for 45km, around 3 hours of cycling. At first, you will be cycling through a big and impressive mangrove area, then along the coastline and very picturesque remote areas. At Watulajar (17km from Riung) take a picnic at an unnamed quiet beach. The beach is very inviting and it’s possible to go camping overnight or at Eco Eden Bungalow just a few meters away. Take note that the trip to Mbay can be pretty hot because there is nearly any shadow around once you left behind the mangrove forest area.
From Mbay, the new capital of Nagakeo District, more cycling tours can be done, for example to the harbour of Marapokot or to the former Nangadhawe sea-salt processing. Behind Mbay is the nice mountain area around Roe that can also be visited (with another Pondok SVP on top, it is possible to stay overnight), if there is still time left.
Don’t miss the next story that will bring us to the south again into the region of Ende, with more and new experiences on the field of cycling or combined cycling-hiking tours. See you soon.
Article and photos by Oskar Ruch