Exploring Nusa Tenggara Timur
What's in your mind when you hear about Nusa Tenggara Timur?
Probably, you will think about Komodo Islands, Wae Rebo, and Kelimutu.
But this part of Indonesia has something more to offer. The hills landscape of the islands hide many mysteries and untouched beauties, that are waiting to be explored.
For this KANO project to NTT, I will be accompanied by Robert, the founder of Indonesia 7 Adventure, and his friend Ridhi.
The main goal of this project is to visit and document one elusive volcanic island, Komba Island (or locally known as Batu Tara).
Our journey started in Kupang, the capital of NTT, located in Timor Island. It is the government center of NTT and a border with East Timor.
We spent 1 day exploring some of the best bits of the town. We visited Crystal Cave, 40 minutes drive away from the town center. It is oddly located in the middle of housing area, but when we asked more to the locals, the area is actually made above some sort of stony landscape with a lot of caves underneath it. There is a pool inside the cave where we can swim inside it, and the sunlight from above, creating a magical scenery inside this dark cave.
Just a few minutes from Crystal Cave is Oenesu Waterfalls. A stack of waterfalls under the hills. We spend a few minutes there for some photos, and and head back to the Airport to catch our next flight to Ende.
Touched Down in Ende, which is located in Flores Island. Flores is has a hilly landscape from west to east, so a 50 km long journey could take up to 3 hours. We visited Soekarno Museum, which is the house he were prisoned in for during his exile before the independence, and it is the house where the idea of Pancasila was born.
We then continuing our journey to Moni, a little village under the foot of Mt Kelimutu.
That night was cold and we had clear sky above us. So the stars were showing up, and we took our chance to get some astrophotography. It was insane!
The next morning, we woke up at 3am. A car picked us up to go to the base of Mt Kelimutu, from there we spend 30 minutes to reach the top where we can see the 3 color lakes. The morning was rather foggy and cloudy, so the sunset was covered up. However, the landscape was simply stunning.
Our next destination is Larantuka. A small fishing town on the eastern end of Flores Island. From there we suppose to get a boat to Komba Island.
However, since we arrived in Flores no one really know about the existence of the island. We were asking around but still haven't got a clue on how to get there. Until one guy in our homestay in Moni said he knows someone who might be able to take us there. So we give it a shot and called this guy called Jimmy. We made an appointment in Larantuka and we go there.
Once we arrived in Larantuka, we could not find Jimmy, and we were forced to go to the port and asking people about getting us to Komba Island. Our first impression about it was shocking. the first sailor that we met asking for Rp.50.000.000 to take us there for 1 night. We quickly moved away and ask the other sailor who gave us Rp.30.000.000, and he took us to his captain's house to negotiate, but the asking price was simply too much. We finally checked in into a hotel near town, and Jimmy called us. He came to our hotel and started offering us some options. One option sounded reasonable and we took it and agreed to go there the next morning. Seems like everything was set. However, the next morning Jimmy did not show up. We agreed to be picked up at 5am, but there was no news until 9am, when he told us that the boat was not available. He took us to another sailor and renegotiate everything. Finally, we got a boat but we needed to wait until 1pm to set sail. The journey will take 6 hours, so once we get there, it would be dark already.
We were happy to finally set sail to the island, but our story did not end there. Our boats have been getting many technical problems, which eventually slowed us even more. One of the motors is not working, and there were leaks on the boat. Once we were close to the island, the motors are completely dead and we needed to scream for help. Fortunately there are some fishermen who were able to help us.
So Komba Island, is basically an active volcano in the middle of Flores Sea. From what he heard and seen on the internet, there has been a constant lava flow and it is erupting almost every single day, that we can see the lava going into the sea every night. We thought, well it will be awesome. But since no one quite know about this island, we could not get to the right point in the right time. it was late and exhausting. We called it a day and stay on the boat for the rest of the night. We made it to the shore in the morning, but we didn't really know where we were at the island. We just walked our way along the coast, when suddenly we saw a heavy smoke coming from above us. We went further and closer to the smoke, and we saw this huge slope, which we later understand as the lava channel straight from the crater. We couldn't really see what is happening from the ground. So once we got back to our boat (which has been fixed), we ask the crew to take us to the front of the lava channel. What we saw is almost unreal. We can see the island is being shaped by this strong force of nature, smoke coming out of the crater so heavily, rocks falling down and the sound of the earth clearly heard from our boat. It was nothing like we've seen before. The lava wasn't flowing down that day, but that scenery alone was so incredible, we were all speechless. We also just realized how dangerously close we were to the lava channel when we were on the shore. If the island decided to spit its lava, we will be right in its passage. Never before I felt so vulnerable and amazed in the same time in my life.
Once we were back in Larantuka, we treat our self with a good hotel and foods before leaving back to Jakarta the next day. This trip has been somewhat crazy with all these problems and could've been an absolute disaster. Yet, my 2 friends here are just the most positive people I've met and despite all this troubles, we managed to had a blast and just laughed through all those situation. This trip has made me realize, that travel is not just about the destination, and the people, but also about understanding ourselves and learning to enjoy this life with all the problems that we have in it.
It has been the craziest moment for me this year, and I can't wait for more experience with more great people.
See you on another trip!