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Home » Tourism Destination » Kelimutu: The Three-Colored Crater Lake on Flores Island


The three-colored crater lake of Kelimutu, located on Flores Island in Indonesia, is a natural marvel that captivates visitors with its striking beauty and unique characteristics. Nestled within the Kelimutu volcano, this geological wonder features three lakes, each displaying distinct colors that can change unpredictably over time. The lakes are known as Tiwu Ata Bupu (Lake of Old People), Tiwu Ko’o Fai Nuwa Muri (Lake of Young Men and Maidens), and Tiwu Ata Polo (Enchanted Lake).

Tiwu Ata Bupu typically appears blue, Tiwu Ko’o Fai Nuwa Muri often shows green hues, and Tiwu Ata Polo is usually a deep red or black. These colors are believed to be caused by the varying chemical compositions of the waters, influenced by volcanic gases and minerals that seep into the lakes from the volcanic activity beneath.

The ever-changing colors of Kelimutu’s lakes have led to local legends and mystical beliefs. The indigenous people of Flores hold that the lakes are resting places for departed souls, with each lake corresponding to different types of spirits. Tiwu Ata Bupu is said to be the final resting place for the elderly, Tiwu Ko’o Fai Nuwa Muri for the young, and Tiwu Ata Polo for those who have committed wrongdoings.

Beyond its cultural significance, the scenic beauty of Kelimutu is a major draw for tourists. The site is best visited early in the morning when the mists rise and the lakes’ colors are most vibrant. The surrounding Kelimutu National Park also offers rich biodiversity, with various flora and fauna endemic to the region.

Kelimutu’s three-colored crater lake stands as a testament to the dynamic and mystical forces of nature, offering a spectacular and enigmatic destination for those seeking both natural beauty and cultural depth.

To visit the three-colored crater lakes of Kelimutu, you can start your journey from either Maumere or Ende, two major towns on Flores Island. Here’s how you can get to Kelimutu from each location:

How to get there?

From Maumere:

1. By Car or Motorbike:

  • Distance: Approximately 130 kilometers (80 miles).
  • Travel Time: Around 3 to 4 hours.
  • Route: Head west from Maumere on the Trans-Flores Highway towards the town of Moni, which is the closest settlement to Kelimutu. The road is generally well-paved but can be winding and steep in certain sections.

2. By Public Transportation:

  • Bus or Bemo: Take a local bus or bemo (a type of shared minivan – they call it a “Travel Car”) from Maumere to Moni. Buses are less frequent, so check the schedules in advance.
  • Travel Tips: Public transportation can be slower and less comfortable than private transport, but it offers a chance to interact with locals and experience the journey more authentically.

From Ende:

1. By Car or Motorbike:

  • Distance: Approximately 50 kilometers (31 miles).
  • Travel Time: Around 1.5 to 2 hours.
  • Route: Travel north from Ende on the Trans-Flores Highway towards Moni. The road to Moni from Ende is relatively straightforward and less winding compared to the route from Maumere.

2. By Public Transportation:

  • Bus or Bemo: Local buses and bemos frequently run from Ende to Moni. The journey is shorter compared to the route from Maumere, making it a convenient option.
  • Travel Tips: As with Maumere, public transportation can be slower, but it’s an economical way to travel.

From Moni to Kelimutu:

  • Final Leg: Moni is the main gateway to Kelimutu. From Moni, it’s about a 13-kilometer (8-mile) drive to the base of Kelimutu. You can hire a motorbike or car, or arrange a ride with local guides and drivers.
  • Hiking: Many visitors prefer to hike the final stretch to Kelimutu, especially to catch the sunrise. The hike takes about 30 to 45 minutes and offers stunning views along the way.

Tips for the Trip:

  • Timing: Plan to visit Kelimutu early in the morning to witness the sunrise and see the lakes at their most vibrant.
  • Preparation: Bring warm clothing, as it can be chilly in the early morning and at higher elevations.
  • Accommodation: There are several guesthouses and homestays in Moni where you can stay overnight before your early morning visit to Kelimutu.

What You Can Do at Kelimutu National Park

1. Hike to the Crater Lakes:

  • Enjoy the well-marked trails leading to the viewpoint of the three-colored lakes. The hike from the parking area takes about 30 to 45 minutes and offers stunning vistas.

2. Catch the Sunrise:

  • Arrive early to witness the breathtaking sunrise over the crater lakes, a highlight of visiting Kelimutu. The colors of the lakes are particularly vibrant at dawn.

3. Photography:

  • Capture the spectacular scenery of the lakes and surrounding landscapes. The changing hues of the lakes provide unique photographic opportunities.

4. Learn About Local Culture:

  • Interact with local guides and villagers to learn about the myths and cultural significance of the lakes. The local Lio people have rich traditions and stories associated with Kelimutu.

5. Explore the National Park:

  • Beyond the crater lakes, Kelimutu National Park boasts diverse flora and fauna. Take time to explore the park’s trails and observe endemic species of plants and birds.

6. Visit the Visitor Center:

  • Gain more information about the geology, ecology, and cultural significance of Kelimutu at the park’s visitor center. Educational displays enhance the overall experience.

What You Can’t Do at Kelimutu National Park

1. Standing on the crater rim:

  • Stand and take pictures on the edge of the crater rim which is steep and unstable is strictly prohibited due to safety concerns and to preserve the natural environment. The lakes are acidic and potentially hazardous.

2. Litter:

  • Visitors must not litter. Carry all trash with you and dispose of it properly to keep the park clean and pristine.

3. Disturb Wildlife:

  • Do not disturb or feed the wildlife. Maintaining a respectful distance helps protect the animals and their natural behaviors.

4. Vandalize or Remove Natural Features:

  • It is forbidden to deface rocks, trees, or any other natural features. Removing plants, rocks, or any natural artifacts from the park is also prohibited.

5. Camp Outside Designated Areas:

  • Camping is only allowed in designated areas. Unauthorized camping can damage the environment and disturb wildlife.

6. Make Excessive Noise:

  • Keep noise levels down to maintain the serenity of the park and to respect other visitors who come to enjoy the peace and natural beauty.

7. Use Drones Without Permission:

  • Drone usage is typically restricted to protect wildlife and ensure visitor safety. If you wish to use a drone, obtain the necessary permissions from park authorities.

Additional Tips:

1. Respect Local Customs:

  • Be mindful of the cultural practices and beliefs of the local communities. Show respect when interacting with local residents and participating in cultural activities.

2. Stay on Trails:

  • Stick to marked paths to avoid damaging sensitive areas and to ensure your safety.

3. Prepare for Weather:

  • The weather can be unpredictable, so bring appropriate clothing and gear, especially if you plan to hike early in the morning for the sunrise.



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