Flores, is located to the East of Bali about 500 kilometres from Australia and is part of the eastern Indonesian archipelago of Nusa Tenggara. The long narrow island is characterised by volcano backdrops, mountainous landscapes and attractive beaches. Komodo dragons can be seen on outlying islands in the west and coloured volcanic lakes in the central south. Maumere, on the central north coast is the capital city of Flores.
Flores made its name on the world stage in 2003 when archaeologists found the remains of an ancient people dubbed the “Flores Hobbit.”
What we love about Flores
- Rich tribal cultures
- Virgin wilderness
- Pristine beaches and reefs
- Heart warming, friendly, welcoming people
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Flores has a population of 1.83 million people (2010) consisting of a variety of ethnic groups who have different customs, languages and social structures. Catholicism is the primary religion, influenced by the Portuguese and later the Dutch during the colonial era and overlaid onto ancient animistic and ancestor beliefs which are still active. Islam is also evident amongst the coastal groups, a legacy of historical migrations from Makassar in Sulawesi and the kingdom of Bima on Sumbawa to the west.
Flores has a tropical monsoon climate with the monsoon season between November and March and the dry season April to October. The average temperatures range between 25-30 degrees celsius with high humidity in the wet season but dropping off in the dry season. The hottest months are February and March while the coolest months are June and July especially up in the mountains that are often shrouded in mist at this time of year making for a mystical view.
The natural environment that makes up the island is characterised by densely forested mountains and volcanos through the central section and more open drier savannah in the far eastern and western areas. This mountainous island has dramatic changes in altitude from sea level up to the tallest mountain, Gunung Ranakah at 2100m.
Flores was originally colonised by the Portuguese and its name means Isle of Flowers. Flores became Dutch territory in the mid nineteenth century and evidence of the Dutch presence on the architecture, food and the culture can still be found. Earlier, Flores was divided into a great number of areas ruled by clan leaders and inhabited by a mixed population reflecting the various waves of migration and colonisation, as well as the different local clans. Each of these regencies and clan groups has, or had, its own style of textile making.
Textiles of this region have a very important role in community rituals and as they are produced by numerous ethnic groups they can be distinguished from each other, in style and technique and by their cultural meaning. Flores textiles in their most traditional form are made of home grown, hand spun cotton, dyed with natural dyes, ornamented by ancestral motifs and woven on a back strap loom. In all parts, clothing for men has consisted of a waist cloth and a shoulder cloth, with frequently a head cloth added to this. The women wear a long two to four panel sarong. Circular textiles are used by both men and women across the island, reflecting influences from neighbouring Islamic kingdoms in times gone by.
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Flores has a diverse range of things to see and do from visiting local villages and witnessing authentic, traditional ways of life, to trekking over lush farmland and into dense jungle, to seeing stunning crater lakes and snorkelling in clear crystal waters along the coast. Below are just a handful of some amazing sights to see in Flores.
1. Komodo Island: Take a short boat ride to Komodo Island where you can spot the famous Komodo Dragon, the largest species of lizard in the world growing up to 3 metres in length.
2. Ruteng Pu’u: This traditional village is one of the best places to see a traditional compang the village centre for traditional ceremonies and rituals. A compang is a round stone platform surrounded by a circle of stones and traditional thatched houses.
3. Wae Rebo Village: This authentic Manggaraian village is home to the traditional and unique style of housing the mbaru niang – constructed using thatch in a circular cone shape. This picturesque village is perched up high in isolated mountains and is one of the major cultural tourism attractions in Flores.
4. Cancar Spider Rice Fields: The Cancar Spider Rice Fields otherwise known as the linko fields are a spectacular sight when seen from above, carving up the farmland below in an intricate, spider web like pattern.
5. Bena Village: This spectacular village is a fantastic example of traditional Ngada culture with impressive stone formation sand shrines and characteristic high thatched-roofed houses.
6. Riung Islands: The crystal clear waters of the Riung Islands and national park is a fantastic spot for snorkelling and diving, famed for its beautiful coral gardens. The marine sanctuary is home to many colourful fish as well as marine mammals such as dolphins and whales. On land the islands are home to many exotic species including the Timor deer, hedgehogs, monkeys, ferrets, flying foxes and the Timor monitor lizard.
7. Kelimutu Lake: Arguably the most amazing natural phenomena in Flores is the tri-coloured crater lakes of Mount Kelimutu. The colours of the lake are ever changing from blue, to green, to black, to red, the scientific explanation that the changing colours are due to varying mineral content in the water. Mount Kelimutu is a scared place to the local people and they believe that the changing colours are due to the neglect of ancestral souls with each lake home to different souls and spirits, the first “the lake of ancestors souls”, the second “the lake of young peoples souls” and the third “the lake of evil spirits.”
8. Lubuan Bajo: This charming port town is a launching pad to visit Komodo Island and the Rinca Islands but is a destination in its own right with white sandy beaches wrapping around the coastline. For a spectacular view of this amazing landscape hike up the hills above the harbour for a panoramic view of the stunning scenery, the perfect spot to watch the golden sunsets.
9. Mangeruda Hot Springs: Nestled up in the highlands of Flores are the Mangeruda Hot Springs great for a soothing bath after a trek in the surrounding area. The springs are said to have medicinal qualities curing certain skin conditions.
10. Maumere: The main entry point for Flores, Maumere is a great place for getting an overall glimpse of the culture, history and natural environment of Flores by visiting the local Bikon Blewut Museum.