The capital of Flores Timur district, Larantuka, hosts the glorious Reinha Rosari Cathedral where pilgrims from all over the world gather during the Larantuka Easter procession. It is only a short ride from Maumere about 50km to reach the district border of Flores Timur and I found it absolutely a unique area and definitively one of my favourite cycling areas in Flores.
What is so special and different about cycling in around Flores Timur compare other places on Flores from the point of view of cyclist? First of all, the east is very remote and the landscape is absolutely gorgeous! Volcanoes, tropical forests, long coastline, clear stunning views overlooking beautiful bays and spectacular colours of the sea! But also there are partially challenging road conditions for cycling around this district.
The highlights are the area of Tanjung Bunga in the north and also nearby the neighbouring islands of Solor and Adonara. Because on these spots, you will have the feel of being the first cyclist ever around on every kilometre! The cycling trip is perfected with nice and friendly locals greeting you, beautiful view of untouched nature and the constant feeling of being the first discoverer in these spots. Not yet to mention the memorable ferry rides with small public boats and ferries to cross Solor and Adonara from Larantuka.
I recommend you to do 3 hours cycling trip on a round trip along the slopes of the Mount Ile Mandiri, estimated distance: 32km, starting and ending point in Larantuka. This tour is suitable for beginner level with some challenging terrain.
For advance level cyclist, take even more challenging 1 day cycling trip from Larantuka up to Tanjung Bunga for about 55km. You will also experience the challenging and off-the-beaten-path dirt tracks. You can also extend your cycling trip to Danau Asmara caldera as a 2 day trip starting from Larantuka to Solor Island and cycling there down to Ritaebang, around 40km return trip, in 4 to 5 hours (not including boat crossing +15 minutes).
The island of Adonara is also nice for a 1 day trip (40 km in 3 to 5 hours cycling trip) or if you are up for more adventurous cycling trip up to 3 days roundtrip, you can sleep with local families since no hotels or guest houses available around Adonara island.
Exploring Flores on bicycle requires prime health condition and adventurous senses. All these cycling tours I have experienced in Flores brought me into small villages and mostly remote areas to see and experience the unique culture of the tribes living around there. My next article will be a guide to do overland Trans Flores cycling trip all the way from Labuan Bajo to the eastern end of Flores Timur.
The art of slow travel is you will see more. Happy cycling!
Article and photos by Oskar Ruch.