Maumere to Moni & Riung
We had booked a flight to Maumere, which is a 2-hour flight over to the east of the island of Flores, and the plan was to work our way back west towards Labuhan Bajo and Komodo National Park, giving ourselves around 9-10 days to do so. We had nothing booked at all for this part of the adventure, apart from 1 night in the first town of Moni, which was sorted via email. There isn’t a lot of accommodation options online for the whole of the island, so we were going there to pretty much wing it and as we discovered, it doesn’t always go to plan!
The flight provided us with spectacular views over various volcanos, the Gili Islands, the north coast of Sumbawa, Komodo NP and the 17 Islands of the north of Flores, before landing at Maumere.
The plan here was to get a taxi from the airport and into town for the bus to Moni, which is around 3 hours west of the airport. As usual, we had done a bit of research on rough costs for travel and we had noted that the bus journey should be around 50-60k each, plus whatever the taxi took into town.
Deciding that it would be better shared, we got speaking to a couple in the airport whilst waiting for our bags, and after a quick conversation we agreed it might even be cheaper for the 4 of us to share a taxi all the way to Moni, and would happily pay 100k each for this. So, we all marched out the baggage claim area and into the awaiting scrum of touts who all shout at you ‘Taxi Taxi’, ‘Where you are going Mister’ and asking, ‘How much you want to pay’. After going from 600k down to 300k, we agreed to go with one guy who said he would take us in his car to the bus terminal, and his friend would take us to Moni in another car. We double checked a couple of times that this was the plan, to which he agreed.
We also both had to top up our SIM cards with more credit to buy a data package to work in Flores, as we had read it’s different ‘pakets’ on various islands, and after seeing a desk outside the airport doors, we spoke to the young girl there and explained what we needed. Deciding to buy a 12gb bundle each for 100k, she proceeded to top up our phones. Mine worked fine, but it wasn’t till we were well away from the airport before we realised that the one she put on Sadie’s phone was the wrong one! It was a much cheaper one and only gave her 2gb of data! Scammed!
We chatted to our new-found friends, Adam & Jen who were from the Manchester area and were also travelling for around 12 months, so we exchanged tips and experiences.
Tobias had asked me via email to confirm our booking the day before arrival, sadly I forgot and as space is limited here, we ended up in a room at the place which is adjoined to his hotel, next door to our new friends, yet we payed slightly more than them... and although a smaller room than we booked, it would do for a couple of nights and it was my fault for not confirming with him.
After having a couple of beers, we took a walk along the small town, which to be honest hasn’t got much going for it, apart from some amazing views of the hills and surrounding rice paddies. We were going to eat at our hotel, but they had run out of chicken (no other meat available) so we went to a place called Mopi’s and despite having a wait of about an hour, the food was delicious. We watched a bit of the live band they had on playing to a packed-out bar, then headed back as we had a possible 4am wake up call, if the weather was clear. If not, we would get a 7am wake up call.
A short while later, we got the call to get ready as the sky was clear and we would be going up Kelimutu to see the sunrise over the mountains and 3 coloured lakes. The 4 of us got into the car and went on the 30-minute journey up the hills, another winding road, to a car park where we got dropped off and had to climb another 30 minutes or so up the hill in the pitch dark. As we got nearer the viewpoint, we could see start of the sun rising over the mountains in the distance, and were looking forward to an amazing sunrise.
Sadly, not long after we got to the view point, the clouds started to come in over the lakes and blocked out our view for most of our time up there, we did manage to get a sneaky peek at the lakes, and they did clear eventually so we could get the usual photos taken of them.
Adam & Jen had decided to do the 3 hours walk back to the hotel, we opted for the car back and after a quick simple breakfast, we both went back to bed for a few hours’ sleep.
In the afternoon we spent time sorting out photos from Bali, had another little nap and ended up back at Mopi’s again for dinner, before coming back to catch the end of the England game, then bed.
This journey wasn’t too bad, our bags on the roof and we enjoyed the amazing views and as usual over here, we got dropped off at one bus terminal on the East side of town, and had to get a 10k Bemo to take us all to the other terminal on the West side of town. We then got met off that as usual by awaiting drivers/touts and after we said our goodbyes to Adam & Jen, we were put on a bus to Riung.
It was only 10am, and the language barrier proved too much to try find out when the bus left (remember we heard midday), so when we started moving around 10:15, we were a bit confused. I managed to get one local woman to confirm the bus indeed was going to Riung, we circled the town a couple of times looking for more passengers/animals/goods and then set off out of Ende around 10:45, much earlier than we expected. Luckily, we managed to run to a petrol station toilet just before we left, as this was a 4-5-hour bumpy journey to which we didn’t stop apart from once in a small town called Mbay so the driver could get some lunch. We got off to stretch our legs in this dusty little town, where some little kid about 8-year-old got on a nearby bike and proceeded to start it and fall off, we just heard it and turned around to see him get up and get a slap around the ear and run away… thankfully he seemed ok as the locals seemed more concerned about the bike!
As we approached Riung, we were asked by the driver where we were staying, but as we didn’t actually have anything booked, I just said the name of one place called Nirvana Bungalows that I had heard was decent. To our surprise, the bus took us right into the gardens of Nirvana, we paid our 70k each and asked the staff about available rooms. Thankfully they weren’t busy, and we got shown a lovely room for 400k a night (£21) including breakfast, so we took it for 2 nights which would allow us to do the 17 Island trip the following day, which was the main reason we came to Riung.
We spoke to one of the staff about the trip, and he initially quoted us 1m rupiah, which we quickly got down to 800k which was a private boat for us 2, and in line with the price I had read online.
As we also needed some laundry doing, he said they could do it for 50k, so we handed it in and then went a walk round the small village after a quick nap.
Our first stop was at Pulau Ontoloe, where we could see Flying Foxes (Fruit bats) who sleep on the trees on the island. There were literally thousands of them lining the mangroves of the island, as we got as close as we could for some photos.
We then went over to Nunsa Bampa for some snorkelling, which was decent. The water was clear and seen a few fish and some lovely coral. Then it was over to Nunsa Tiga for lunch, which was a beautiful deserted island, apart from one French family and us.
One amusing moment is when the boats anchor got stuck whilst we were trying to dock on the beach, and one of the lads had to jump in to release it. Lunch consisted of some BBQ fresh fish with rice/salad/veg and fresh fruits. It was delicious and was plentiful, so much so that we gave the leftovers to our boat crew.
After chilling out on this gorgeous island with the most amazing views of the north coast of Flores, we headed to our last destination of Nunsa Rutong for some more snorkelling. Sadly, in this region, they are known to use explosives for fishing and it’s apparent when you see the blast holes in the coral, such a shame to see this and hopefully it stops before it’s all gone forever.
At around 4pm we headed back to get showered and then tried to get the staff to sort our spaces on the only bus of the day for tomorrow to take us to Bajawa, at 6am.
Unknown to us, the staff advised us that tomorrow was local elections across Indonesia, and just 2 days prior the government had declared it a local holiday. This meant that the bus was not running tomorrow, and after a bit of a panic on what we were going to do, we were told we could arrange a private car to take us, but this would be 700k instead of the 70k the bus would have cost. We didn’t really fancy another night here as there was literally nothing else to do in Riung, so we agreed to the car and the guy said he would confirm the departure time tomorrow morning, but thought it would be around 10am.
We an amazing dinner that evening of grilled and fried squid dinner at a local Warung called Café Del Mar where we had two big plates of squid and rice and it was only about £6 including 2 beers. Then it was an early night (to be honest there wasn’t anything to do anyway), as it had been a hot and tiring day.