A highlight of our trip in Flores was definitely our visit to Waturaka, a community based tourism village near Kelimutu. The warmth and friendliness of the people made me instantly feel home. We were welcomed with big smiles as they showed us their place. With an overnight stay at one of the five homestays, you can become a part of the village life. The homestays are well equipped with water bottles, towels, tissues and other necessities. The available maps and guidebooks of Flores will help to organise your trip.
We enjoyed a rich, delicious local dinner with fresh vegetables from their own little garden and chatted with our host parents. As the village lies up in the mountains, nights can get quite cold. The villagers are prepared for that and offered me an Ikat, which is a traditional hand-woven sarong, in order to keep the body warm. Choosing the patterns, dying the material and finally weaving the cloth is a challenging and time-consuming process and I was impressed by the variety of patterns and colours used.
Soon it was bed time, and I had a deep, comfortable sleep until the early morning, when it was time to go to Kelimutu and enjoy a beautiful sunrise. Waturaka lies very close to Kelimutu, so after a short drive and walk, we reached the top of Kelimutu. The view is just incredible and the colour of the three lakes got even more intense with the rising sun. To the amusement of the locals, I wrapped myself in the Ikat, which was really helpful against the cold, whilst I appreciated the scenery.
As we went back to the village, our family welcomed us back warmly and provided us with another delicious meal. We spent the day exploring the surroundings, strolled through mountainous scenery and finally reached a beautiful Murukeba waterfall where we were able to cool down. Later on, the locals showed us their gardens where they grow different kinds of vegetables and fruits. One farmer of the village even won an award for best practice! After one last delicious meal prepared by the family and dancing along the traditional music, it was already time to say good bye. I am still impressed by the ease of the locals to welcome us to be a part of them and share their customs with us. Staying at Waturaka was a very unique experience and I will always keep it in my heart, hoping to be back soon!
Article and photos by Patricia Schmid