Mount Kelimutu, with its tri-colored crater lakes, is probably the most amazing natural phenomenon in Flores. Beyond that, the ‘steaming mountain’ is also the island’s most famous tempat angker, or mystical, haunted place.

Scientific explanations aside, there are many myths about the origin of Kelimutu. This is one of the reasons why Mount Kelimutu was, and still is a sacred place for the local people. Over the years, the three crater lakes have often changed color. At present, one of the lakes is black-brown, one is green, and one is currently changing from green to a reddish color. A reason may be the varying mineral contents of the water. Another explanation suggests that the changing colors are caused by the neglected ancestral souls.

The first lake is named Tiwu Ata Mbupu (lake of the ancestors’ souls ); the second is named Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (lake of young people’s souls); and the third is called Tiwu Ata Polo (lake of evil spirits). The first and second lakes are situated close together; while the third lake is about 1.5km to the west. Kelimutu is a beautiful place at any time of the day. However, the best time to enjoy this magical place is in the early morning when the clouds haven’t yet covered the view. Many visitors prefer to see the sunrise.

The most popular and convenient starting point to visit Kelimutu is Moni, a village close to the Transflores ‘highway’. Whereas until not too long ago visitors had to hike all the way up to Kelimutu, there is now a paved road to a parking lot where you can enjoy a 30-minute walk through a lush forest full of birdsong, before entering the lake area.

Moni, too, is worth a stay. You can do many nice treks in the fertile surroundings of rice fields, forests, and hills. Relax in the hot springs nearby, look at some fine Lio ikat in the market, or enjoy a performance of local dance and music. Another starting point to Kelimutu, and a good alternative to Moni, is Detusoko village, which is about 33km from Kelimutu.

Flores Cycling Tours provides the tour to Kelimutu on the overland Flores cycling program. The road down from Kelimutu parking area to Moni village is the perfect onroad downhill.