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Kelimutu National Park, Crater Lake & Activities

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Sunrise At The Top of Kelimutu
Sunrise At Kelimutu National Park. Img: Flickr/Michael Day

East Nusa Tenggara (Nusa Tenggara Timur) is not only popular for its Komodo dragons in Komodo Island. Deep in the Island of Flores, lies Kelimutu National Park. Located in three districts (Detsuko, Wolowaru, and Ndona) in Ende Regency. The park is famous for its three colored lakes.

Yes, they are not just ordinary lakes with typical blue-ish water. These lakes exist as a result of volcanic eruptions series on Mount Kelimutu. The last eruption in 1886 caused the lakes’ water to start changing color. Scientists assume that the volcanic activities in the base of the lake.

Enhance with the bias of sunlight and some chemical gasses reactions are the causes of this phenomenon. So far there is no scientific answer yet. And the answer to it might still have to wait for the ongoing research.

Tri-Colored Lake Phenomenon in Kelimutu National Park
Famous for its tri-colored lake, Kelimutu is one of the top destinations in East Nusa Tenggara. Img: Flickr/Michael Bay

Kelimutu National Park Activities

Kelimutu National Park itself is considered the smallest. Of all parks in Bali-Nusa Tenggara Region at only 5.365 ha. But of course, it is not the least in its importance.

Besides Kelimutu Lake, the park is also a home. For at least 19 species of endangered birds and 4 endemic mammals. The park also serves as conservation for a wide range of flora. Mainly from genus Vaccinium dan Rhododendron.

Trekking To Mount Kelimutu before sunrise

To get to Kelimutu Lake, visitors will have to hike early. Prepare at 4 in the morning, as the journey will takes 30-45 minutes from Moni. Make sure to be at the entrance gate at 04:30 and begin to hike. The trek to get to the top of Kelimutu considered as an easy hike.

The first part of the hike, trees hug this side of the mountain, not much to see for hikers since it’s still dark. The air is cold, and the eyes are still sleepy. Luckily the path is clear enough with gentle inclines. The hike overall is not quite challenging for the first 20 minutes.

The second part is where hikers will start to feel the mountainous terrain. The forest gradually disappears, volcanic rocks and open sky replace the trees, and the track gets only a bit tougher. Though it only takes 30 to an hour to get to the top of Kelimutu.

Kelimutu Trekking
Kelimutu Lake, wake early and see the sunrise at the top tri-colored lake. Img: Flickr/Bryn Pinzgauer

Once reaching the viewpoint, clouds and mists welcome, and even colder air greet the skin. But be patient and wait for the sunrise. As what waiting ahead will guarantee all the hiking and waking up early totally worth it.

Kelimutu Tri-Colored Lakes

As the sun starts rising and the mists start to disappear, nature will gradually begin to unravel the lakes on the deep craters below. The first lake is Tiwu Ata Nuwa Muri Koofai or The Lake of The Young People. Local believes that this is where the spirits of young people go when they die, hence its name.

This lake has 127 m depth and reportedly had a sky blue color which then turned into white. The second lake is Tiwu Ata Mbupu. This lake is known to have the color changed from originally dark brown to milky chocolate. For the locals, Mbupu is a resting place for old people’s spirit.

Trekking Path
An Hour Hike and half an hour down to get to Kelimutu Lake. Img: Flickr/Bryn Pinzgauer

The last lake, Tiwu Ata Polo, originally had a red color which then turned into a sky blue. This is might be the hell, at least for the locals. The people believe its where the bad people going in the afterlife. There’s no certain pattern of when and into what color the lake will change.

The alteration part can occur within hours, months or even years. It might be a nice surprise for visitors. Discovering the colors will feel like opening a hidden gift – no one know what they get. Spend some time to be amazed by the magnificent view.

Rows of green hills and mountains behind with a nice backdrop will complement the hiking experience. Some people swear, going to these lakes is among one thing people must do. At least once in a lifetime experience. Kelimutu lakes were listed among the 7 wonders, so they are probably right!

Tiwu Ata Mbupu, Kelimutu Lake
Tiwu Ata Mbupu, one of Kelimutu Lake believed as where the old spirit goes. Img: Flickr/Rosino

Meet Kelimutu Park’s Local Performer

As the sun is up, lucky tourists will spot some Garugiwa birds chirping cheerfully on the pine trees below. Garugiwa, or bare-throated whistler is an endemic species inhabiting in this national park.

The bird definitely has quite a talent: it can produce 16 kinds of sound. The composition of these sounds showcases a performance so beautiful bewitching anyone to just stop and listen.

National Park Arboretum

The arboretum, Kelimutu’s mini jungle, can be an alternative exit route from the mountain peak. Climbing back down, anyone with a keen interest in Botany should go to this route.

The conservation preserves some endemic trees. Among them a begonia tree called Uta onga (Begonia kelimutunesis) and a tree called Turuwara (Rhondodenron renschianum). There are also other 79 types of plant to learn, spend at least two hours to explore them all.

See The Local Costume And Traditions

Residents surrounding the national park is a tribal society. Traditional houses made from wood still dominating the village. The traditional lifestyle mainly centered around farming and raising livestock. Unfortunately, some parts of the village still lack electricity and plumbing.

Visiting the village can be a humbling yet incredible experience. As simple as it may seem, these people live harmoniously with the surrounding nature- and they’re a bunch of friendly and happy folks!

Learn some ikat weaving craft during the visit here. Ikat is a traditional technique to produce a textile by dyeing the yarns before weaving them. The women of the village will happily teach anyone who’s curious to learn. And don’t forget to bring one home this beautiful piece of textile.

Kelimutu National Park Opening Hours

The national park opens from 5 AM to 6 PM. Yet actually, everyone can go at any time of the day. This is why tourists hike in midnight for sunrise hunting.

Kelimutu National Park Opening Hours
Every day05:00 – 18:00 WITA

See: The Oldest Shrine and Gate To Heaven Penataran Agung Lempuyang Temple.

Kelimutu National Park Entrance Fee

The best month to visit is between July and September. It’s the peak of the dry season and mostly the sky will also clear. As for the ticket, it is Rp 150,000 for foreign visitors.

Kelimutu National Park Entrance Fee
Foreign WeekdayRp 150.000
WeekendRp 225.000


Villages below the mountain offer lodges for visitors to stay. They are certainly not five-star hotels. But they provide basic facilities and experience of living like local regular hotels can never offer.

Enjoy some local delicacies on warung, or small restaurants, which are also plenty nearby. There are even some ladies selling food near the lake viewpoint, so visitors hungry after hiking will find their existence a blessing.

How To Get To Kelimutu National Park

Travelers from any cities of Indonesia will arrive firstly in the city of Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara. From here, go to Moni village at the foot of Mount Kelimutu. There are two options, either rent a vehicle or ride a motorcycle taxi (ojek). There is also local public transportation to Moni village but the schedule is unreliable.

From the village to the entrance gate of the national park, is a 30 minutes walk. Taxi bike is also available to save energy for the hiking part. Car and jeep rentals are also ready for rent. These cars are able to go past the entrance and far into the national park. So tourists will only need to hike a short path to reach to the peak.

Kelimutu National Park Address & Location

The National Park is located in detusoko village, Ende Regency, East Nusa Tenggara.


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