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Flores by bike – a unique experience

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Most tourists come to Flores by plane and then take a car, a minibus or scooter. I, however, decided to explore this wonderful island in the south-east of Indonesia by bike. I arranged as much as I could before setting foot on Flores. One of the decisions that I took already beforehand was to follow the western half of the well-constructed Trans-Flores highway from mid to west. In Ende – the starting point of my trip westwards – Tedis, a super friendly and hospitable local guide helped me to find a few remaining things for preparation (e.g. cable ties) and guided me to the Flores Tourism Office. This is one of the few places to rent a bike as a tourist.

The first day of my cycle trip to Flores’ western coast was very exciting but also tough. I saw beautiful beaches, I met very friendly and kind-hearted people along the road (“Hello Mister!”), and enjoyed being surrounded by breath-taking landscapes. Nevertheless, I had to skip the last bike kilometres to Bajawa as the weather turned from hot sun to heavy rains. The reason was that the first “easy going part” (40 km) along the coastline took me longer than expected. With all the luggage (most of it I carried in my backpack) the following 20 km of constant climbing was a real challenge, especially with the temperature being as hot as 30+ degrees Celsius high and the sun burning. I should have started earlier in the morning and not take too many small breaks in the first 3 hours – even if all of them were absolutely worth it.

The second day I took a rest at Bajawa and explored the beautiful surrounding area by scooter. I visited, for example, the fascinating traditional villages of Bena and Ngio and tried to get to the hot springs, but unfortunately, I failed to find them.

After a relaxing day in and around Bajawa I was back on my bike taking the Trans-Flores Highway from Bajawa in the central highlands. I rode around the picturesque volcano Gunung Inerie straight towards Borong, a city on the southern coast.

After a short stay in Borong, I enjoyed again cycling through breath-taking nature between Borong and Ruteng. The tour was quite demanding due to the hilly route and altitude – overall around 1700 meters uphill. After another beautiful day on my bike through cosy villages and with very friendly people along the road, I was lucky to stay for a night at the wonderful homestay called Sun Rice Homestay, surrounded by lush peaks and terraced light green rice fields. 

The next day, I had a very nice and educational morning walk amidst the light green rice terraces. Thereafter, I started the last stage of my “Half-Flores-Mountainbike-Trip”, which led me from Ruteng to Labuan Bajo. Again, the tour was challenging with a total of 130 km and 2200 meters uphill. Overall, this amazing leg of my trip, once again through picturesque rice fields, villages and forests took me about eight hours. After my arrival in Labuan Bajo, I was so happy to have a great dinner and a comfortable bed – the best that could happen to me after 400 km by bike from mid to west of Flores, including 6000 meters uphill.

Overall, my (mountain) bike-trip through the western half of Flores was a fantastic and unique experience: such kind people, wonderful nature, rich culture all along the beautiful and sometimes challenging Trans-Flores Highway. I can highly recommend this trip. If your fitness allows for adventures like this – give it a try! You will definitely not regret it!

Photo and article by Oliver Plum

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