MOUNT INERIE BAJAWA

Mount Inerie with its beautiful, harmonic pyramid shape, is an eye-catching peak in the Florinese ‘mountain skyline’.  With an altitude of 2245m above sea level, Mount Inerie is also one of the highest volcanoes in Flores.

If you would like to climb to the top, you do well to start your trip at night or in the very early morning. You will be rewarded with a magical moment when the sun slowly rises up behind the hills. From the top of Mount Inerie, you have a stunning view that sometimes even goes as far as Sumba Island in the south. Starting from an altitude of about 900 meters, the hike will take you about 2½?4 hours. Be aware that climbing Mount Inerie demands a good physical condition, and the expertise of a local guide who knows about the safe trails and weather conditions.

Besides mountain climbing, the area around Mount Inerie itself has much to offer. Exploring the slope of the mountain in surroundings of lush green trees is refreshing for both body and soul. As in many mountainous areas in Flores that are of high biodiversity, you can also observe the endemic birds and listen to their amusing songs here. If you wish to enrich your Inerie explorations with some cultural experiences, nearby traditional villages such as Gurusina or Bena offer you opportunities to experience the fascinating Ngada culture.

BALAGRAHI VILLAGE

If you want to experience Ngada culture beyond the more popular Bena and Wogo, and if you are ready to invest a little time and physical effort, you should dare to hike to the extraordinary village of Belaraghi and spend the night in this amazing place.The sixteen beautiful traditional houses stand tidily in two parallel rows in a secluded forest clearing, exuding natural harmony. They are renovated in the traditional Ngada architectural style on a regular basis and are therefore in very good condition. Five of the sixteen houses are so-called sao pu’u, first or original houses, which are indicated by a miniature house on the roof; the other five distinct buildings are sao lobo, ‘last houses’, which feature a miniature human figure on the roof.

Five is also the number of clans living in Belaraghi at present. Besides the buildings mentioned, the Belaraghi clans are also affiliated with another house type: the sao kaka (kaka means ‘to share’). These houses are considered ‘children’, the descendants of a clan’s sao pu’u and sao lobo. Some of the sao kaka are even located in other villages. The kaka inhabitants support their families in the sao pu’u and the sao lobo financially, materially, and with labor.

At the back of the village there is a ritual site with five bhaga-like houses called loka – one for each clan. The loka face the watu lanu, a construction consisting of an elevated stone court framed by ijuk-covered poles. This site is mainly used by the Belaraghi people for the ‘bui loka’, a ceremony to initiate reba, the Ngada-wide new year festivities (link cultural events).

To the Belaraghi people, visitors from abroad are guests, not tourists. Therefore, guests are traditionally welcomed with a ceremony called ti’i ka ebu nusi, which translates as ‘give food to the ancestors’. It is about introducing the guests to the host’s ancestors, to ask for their blessings so that no obstacles may come in the way of the traveler, and to ask the evil spirits in the mountains not to cause any harm to them. The ritual takes place in the ‘sao one’, the most sacred inner part of a Ngada house. After ti’i ka ebu nusi, it is time to sit together for conversation and a shared meal. As there is no electricity yet in Belaraghi, the soft light of the oil-lamps brings a very cozy atmosphere inside the neat and clean wooden houses. At night, enjoy these rare moments of silence, with only nature’s sounds to lull you to sleep. As Belaraghi is already close to the coast, it does not get as cold as in Bajawa at night

CANCAR SPIDER WEB

In Manggarai you will certainly notice the impressive lingko fields. The most amazing view over a number of these fields is offered at Cara Village situated on a small hill 17km west of Ruteng in Cancar. With their round, spider-web structure, these pieces of land are unique eye-catchers in Manggarai.Long before wet-rice cultivation, the ancestors of the Manggaraian people grew dry rice, corn, and tubers in the lingko fields. Every village used to own several fields. During planting and harvesting time, ceremonies and ritual offerings were held at the lodok, the ritual center of the lingko. The lodok features a wooden pole and a rock. These two objects symbolize the reunion of the male and female, the heaven and earth, and the creation of mankind. If a new lingko was developed, the sacrifice of a water buffalo was required. The division of a new lingko was guided by the tu’a teno, the Lord of the Land.

This traditional leader had the authority over the land and the rituals and ceremonies related to the agricultural cycle. The distribution of the fields to different families was carried out at the lodok. Every family of a community had the right to work a certain piece of land. Depending on the family’s size, the head of the family held a certain number of fingers to the pole in the lodok. The distance between the fingers was marked on this pole. From these two points, lines were drawn to the outer circle of the lingko, defining the size of a family’s land. These pie segments were called moso, which means ‘hand’ in the Manggarai language.

The moso were not conceived as the private property of a single person or household. Traditionally the lingko was farmed with a system of shifting cultivation, thus claims of constant land tenure were not yet common. After a two-year utilization period, the old fields were given up, and virgin forest – which in the past was abundant – or former fallow land, was cleared for new fields. Even though these fields still exist today, their agricultural and ritual context has changed drastically.

Nowadays the lingko fields are primarily used for wet-rice cultivation. With the dominance of this new form of farming, the significance of the traditional agricultural calendar with its rituals and ceremonies, embedded in the planting and harvesting of dry rice and corn, has also faded.

BENA VILLAGE

Bena, a community that is situated about 16km from Bajawa at the foot of Mount Inerie, is the most famous and also most visited village in the Ngada district. With its impressive stone formations and ancestral shrines, as well as traditional houses, Bena has turned into a signpost for Ngada culture.

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 – representing the clan’s ancestors. The ngadhu is an anthropomorphic umbrella-like pole embodying the male ancestor of a clan. The trunk is decorated with carvings and is topped with a warrior-like figure. The ngadhu symbolizes fierceness and virility. After a new ngadhu has been carved out of a special tree, the men of the village carry the pole in a ceremonial way into the village.

The bhaga, a female ancestral clan shrine, is a small hut with a thatched roof that resembles a miniature of a traditional house. It symbolizes the sanctuary of the house and the female body. The bhaga offers enough space for one to two persons to hold rituals for female ancestors.

Another distinct feature of Ngada culture, of which Bena offers an awesome sight, are the megalithic formations in the village center. Megaliths are a means to connect with the supernatural realm and to communicate with the ancestors, often by animal sacrifice. As with the ngadhu and bhaga shrines, there is also a stone altar to every village clan. Additionally, a massive pile of flat stones, called lenggi, represents a court where the different clans of the village settle their legal disputes. If you look closer at the houses in Bena, you often find them decorated with skulls and horns of water buffaloes and pig jaws which were sacrificed at different ceremonies.

Visitors can buy locally crafted ikat, or tie-dyed woven cloth, in Bena. The sarong, which is a large tube of woven cloth, is often worn wrapped around the waist, both by men and women. The ikat weaving motifs range from animal patterns like horses, chickens, elephants, and the sacred ngadhu and bagha symbols.

At the end of the village, elevated on a small hill, a viewpoint with a Virgin Mary shrine gives you the opportunity to have a bird eye’s view over Bena and a wider view of the beautiful surrounding landscape, including Mount Inerie and the Savu Sea. The visit to Bena can also be combined with a hike that passes the villages of Tololela and Gurusina before ending at the Malanage Hot Springs.

KELIMUTU LAKE

KELIMUTU LAKE

Mt Kelimutu National Park is the smallest among six national parks in the stretch between and the Nusa Tenggara islands. Its size obviously does not matter much when it offers one of the most spectacular wonders that nature has to offer. There are three lakes on the mountain sharing the same name, Kelimutu, meaning ‘the boiling lake’. Each has its own colors and a local name. But all are believed to be the resting place of departed souls.

Kelimutu lakes are unpredictable as to when and what color they will change into. Sometimes, the colors are blue, green, and black, and some other times they turn to white, red, and blue. The last time a traveler saw them, one was dark brown, just like a pond of chocolate. Previously, the east lake was red and the middle lake was blue.

Lake Kelimutu is part of the Kelimutu National Park, presenting a highly aesthetic value and surreal experience. The national park’s highest point is 5,679 feet at Mt Kelibara (1,731 meters), and 5,544 feet high (1,690 meters) at Mt Kelimutu. It is a national park that protects 19 endemic and endangered animals, among which, the Floresian punai (Treron floris), Wallacea owl (Otus silvicola), Floresian kancilan (Pachycephala nudigula), Floresian eagle (Spizeatus floris), and Timorese tesia (Tesia everetti)