Ruteng, capital of the district of Manggarai, in the western part of Flores island, is a pleasant, busy town backed by a range of mountains. Ruteng is located some 1,100 meters above sea level that makes the air cool. Green rice fields that provide the staple food for the population on this predominantly dry island surround the town area. The coffee grown in Ruteng is the most invigorating. Along the road to the town of Ruteng (147km, 4 hours by car, 9-10 hours by bicycle), the geography and the climate change significantly. Fortunately from the point of view of cyclists, these don’t matter much since cycling around Ruteng is not as humid as other areas in Flores. An occasional afternoon rain showers Ruteng quite often. Just make sure you bring a raincoat on every trip.
From Ruteng, you can go for easy and short cycling trip in and around city area, such as cycling to Golo Curu and airport tour with charming views overlooking the town and Mountain Ranaka in the background. Other short cycling trip is to the traditional village of Ruteng Pu’u, combined with a ride through the rice fields nearby in the south-western part of Ruteng.
If you like the combination of cycling with visit to historical places, the tour to Liang Bua Cave is therefore recommended. The hilly topography will challenge you on the way back to your hotel. Cyclists with interest in natural phenomenon can try a day tour to Ulumbu, a geothermal field with still active volcano steaming up sulphur and geothermal activity. On the way to Ulumbu, you will ride through really nice natural mountain forest area and rural farmlands towards the south coast. Be prepared, that this tour takes a day and has steep downhill sections as well as demanding and long uphill parts.
The very best part is the three-day trip via Iteng on the south coast up to Wae Rebo – a village recently honoured UNESCO World Heritage Site. And if you prefer to have a guided-cycling tour, it is good to know that in Ruteng, Flores Cycling Tours is at the moment the only local tour operator offering cycling trip in Flores. They will arrange well the guide, bicycles, assistance for transport and hotel booking for you.
Ruteng is a lovely area to do different types of cycling trips. So plan enough time – at least one week – to really explore Ruteng and its surrounding beauty.
Article & photos by Oskar Ruch