[The coast of Flores. And the answer to why bus travel takes so long.]
I’m wrapping up my Flores posts to highlight how to travel Flores in the space of a week. Originally I had intended to spend 2 weeks there, but my trip was cut short when I realised I needed extra time to apply for an East Timor visa in Kupang, West Timor.
Even at two weeks I thought I was going to be rushing it. My friend Stuart recommends 18 days in Flores. Having finished travelling there I would say that too, but for many of us 2+ weeks would be a luxury.
[Speaking of, every visitor to Flores should download the free Flores travel guide.]
If you don’t have 2+ weeks you can still see a lot in a week, and in the process see two of the great travel highlights of Indonesia (Komodo and Kelimutu).
For illustration purposes I’ve set Bali as the starting point seeing most visitors to Indonesia do so via Bali. This of course can be done from either direction.
Day 1: Bali to Labuan Bajo
Fly into Labuan Bajo and get a tour boat planned for a 2 day/1 night trip. Here is the boat tour I booked.
Day 2: Labuan Bajo to Komodo National Park
Depart Labuan Bajo for Komodo National Park. View Komodo Dragons, go island hopping and snorkelling coral reefs. Sleep on the boat.
Day 3: Komodo National Park to Labuan Bajo
Another full day exploring Komodo National Park, returning to Labuan Bajo in the afternoon, just in time for another sunset show.
Day 4: Labuan Bajo to Bajawa
Long travel day consisting of ten hours in a bus. Look for the blue Gunung Mas buses when booking a ticket. They are a reasonably spacious minibus and more comfortable than the older Bemo style buses.
Day 5: Bajawa Day Trip
Spend the day touring the area around Bajawa, including visiting some of the traditional villages and visiting a hot spring.
While most towns have since been concreted over there still remains some villages in Flores that have kept their traditional buildings. One of the villages I visited was Bena.
Day 6: Bajawa To Moni
An eight hour bus day to get to Moni. I got the local Bemo bus which made me realise how much better the Gunung Mas bus was, so try and book that one.
Day 7: Moni > Kelimutu National Park > Ende > Home
Get up at ridiculous o’clock and grumble about getting up so early, then realise it was totally worth it when you see the sun rise over crater lakes and mountains.
You will be back in the village of Moni by 9am, so time to pack up and get a bus or private car to Ende (about 2 hours away) and from there fly back to Bali or onward destination in Indonesia.
If the thought of two long bus days has put you off, you could instead fly from Labuan Bajo to Ende and skip the Bajawa section. I would then spend more time in Labuan Bajo, either by opting for a 3 day boat trip or doing some day trips from LB to other beaches.
If you just want to get to one place stay put you could easily spend a week exploring the area around Labuan Bajo.