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Flores, Indonesia

TransFlores Road Trip

A road trip along the TransFlores highway is the perfect opportunity to sample the variety of landscapes and traditions that Indonesia has to offer, far away from the beaten path. Rattling along the winding mountain roads in Flores Island, you will encounter hardy stone gatherers, feast on grilled fish in beachside Muslim warungs, bathe on hidden-away beaches, steam in secluded hot springs and see the gleaming tri-colored lakes of Kelimutu. With its vibrant landscapes, stunning cliffs, exotic ocean-life and rich traditions, Flores will not remain unknown for long.

The road trip starts from Labuan Bajo, which can be reached by flight from a few other airports in Indonesia (such as Bali). You can choose to be picked up from your hotel in Labuan Bajo or the Labuan Bajo airport.

It is possible to do the road trip independently without a guide, but in this lesser-known part of Indonesia, we really appreciated having a guide with us to provide us with more context on the cultures and history of the places we saw.

If you plan to do the trip independently on a motorcyle, please note that the mountain roads are winding and narrow - so the route may be better suited for an experienced motorcyclist.

None of the activities in any of the options are too strenuous. There are a few optional hikes along the way - if you plan to do them, you should have a relatively good level of fitness and be able to hike for a few hours on a trail with a moderate incline.

The dry season is from April to November, which is the ideal time to travel in Flores so as to not miss any outdoor activities. If you aren't able to travel during the dry season, try to do the trip in March or December - even though it may rain during your trip, it is unlikely that it would rain non-stop, so you would still be able to partake in some outdoor activities.

Between 4 to 7 days, depending on which option you pick!

The quality of accommodation is the same between the two providers so the main difference is the price and the length of the trips offered. The shorter trips give a sample of everyday life in Flores whereas the longer trips feature more local villages. If you would like to be totally immersed in a different way of life, you may want to spend a longer time meandering around Flores and enjoying a part of Indonesia less known to the outside world.

As one of the main attractions of this road trip is to see the traditional villages of the many tribes of Flores, here is a little more color to the villages you will be seeing (depending on which option you pick):

Wae Rebo village: is an old Manggarai tribe village with iconic, coned-shaped thatch-roofed buildings perched upon a hill. A trek to get there takes a few hours and it is not accessible by car.

Bena Village: is the traditional village of Bajawa People, located in the slope of Mount Inerie. The village consists of two parallel rows of traditional, high thatch-roofed houses. Highly visible in the center of the village are ngadhu and bhaga - pairs of shrines, one for each clan of the village, that represent the clan’s ancestors.

Ruteng Pu'u: is another Manggarai village, a bit easier to access than Wae Rebo. The style of houses is similar, but not as tall as Wae Rebo.

Wologai village: is a traditional village of the Ende people. The houses here are square with flat top pyramid type roofs. Many wood-carved handicrafts can be found here.

Wolowaru: is a small village in the Badjawa, known for cashew processing.

Saga Village: is the traditional village of Lio tribe in Ende.

Insect repellent
Trekking shoes (simple trainers will do)
Clothes and toiletries

The itineraries provided by each individual company may vary, but they are always flexible. If you are interested to stop at any particular location along the way from Labuan Bajo to Maumere, you should notify your driver or guide.

We have found that the following places were worth a visit and may not be explicitly listed on the itinerary, which usually focus on the cultural villages:

  • seeing Spider Web Rice fields (near Ruteng, and usually one of the most common stops);

  • snorkelling near 17 Islands (near Riung, for this one you may need to skip another stop along the way, as it is a bit out of the way);

  • hiking up the Wawo Muda Lakes near Badjawa for a scenic view of tri-colored lakes (albeit more bland than those at Mt. Kelimutu);

  • Mt. Inerie;

  • taking a dip in Mangeruda Hot springs (near Badjawa); and

  • swimming in secluded Koka Beach (in between Ende and Maumere).

Also, once you've finished your trip, you can independently climb Mount Egon.