I have always wanted to explore the island of Flores so after our trip on the boat around the Komodo Islands, it felt like it was the perfect time to tick this one off the list! Instead of jetting straight back to Bali, we decided to hire a driver and drive all the way from Labuan Bajo to Kelimutu, stopping at Wae Rebo Village and Bena Village along the way! This was a total of 4 whole days, about 24 hours of driving in the car, 3 early morning rises and a whole lot of off the beaten track culture.
Before we headed off on our long adventure we decided to treat ourselves to our last non-Indonesian meal. We figured that driving to the other side of the island, with only local villages and local warungs, we would be eating a lot of nasi goreng/ mie goreng. So we found a mexican place called “Bajo Taco” which was just down the road from where we were staying in Labuan Bajo that offered great views and was reasonably priced! Em ordered the jackfruit tacos & I had a veggie burrito- they were both delicious!
The drive from Labuan Bajo to our first stop- Wae Rebo Village, which is where we would spend the night, was estimated to take about 4-5 hours. We headed off in the car at 8am with the aim to arrive at the Village by sunset. Wae Rebo is completely surrounded by thick jungle, situated on top of a mountain, at around 1,100 meters above sea level. The only way to access the village is to trek, by foot, for 1.5 hours (each way) after a quick scooter ride from Denge Village- which is the closest village from the main road.
I have wanted to visit this place for quite a while, ever since I first saw it in an airline magazine, it definitely lived up to all expectations- this place is remarkable! Wae Rebo’s main characteristics are their unique houses, which they call Mbaru Niang, but I like to refer to them as “teepee like structures”. Today, Wae Rebo is only this village that continues to maintain the typical teepee like houses, without which these unique houses would have been completely fazed out. It was honestly such a cool experience staying here! Such an unusual, yet insanely beautiful place!
The first hut was built in either 1817 or 1917, all depending on whether I should believe the wizard of a weather man who claimed to control the weather- according to him, he was holding off the rain for us, so that we could enjoy our time without getting wet. On the other hand the factual books that were written by the tourism board - I think I’ll go with the weather guy on this one!
The people of Wae Rebo Village were incredibly inviting and seemed to love having visitors, they were all super friendly and actually enjoyed all the photo processes going on! We spent the afternoon playing ball with the kids outside and then enjoyed a traditional dinner as a family all under the same roof where we would sleep. The village only has electricity from 6pm to 10pm, which added to the unique experience.
I absolutely love visiting places like this!! So many unique experiences and memories are had when you decide to venture a little deeper and beyond the more common path traveled. After a sunrise shoot & breakfast, we trekked back down for another 1.5 hours to meet our driver and continue our journey through Flores Island. I’ll cover the second part of our road trip in the next post!