Spanning from Komodo to Alor, this vast, volcanic network of Indonesian islands is a favorite for eclectic explorers who appreciate a mix of beckoning seas and rich cultural traditions. The north coasts feature lush, green hills leading up to active volcanic ridges. The savannah in the south promises windy plains and craggy structures left formed, yet not forgotten, by time.
Inland, the landscape is dominated by overgrown, green jungle, with patches of webbed rice fields across fertile farmlands. Seas bountiful with fish offer exciting diving and fishing opportunities, in this wild, alluring corner of the world.
The famous Spiderweb Rice fields appear as a patchwork spiral from above, an intricate visual representation of the staple of Indonesia. The shape is due to the way communal lands are distributed, with each slice of field originating from a pole in the center called the lodok.
In Cancar, one of the most fertile stretches of land in the archipelago, the best photo opportunity is from the high ground to see the spider web formation. This way of dividing lands is called lingko and is unique to this part of East Nusa Tenggara, near the larger village of Ruteng.
The islands of East Nusa Tenggara host some of the most beautiful volcanoes and volcanic lakes in Southeast Asia. The famed Egon volcano in Maumere is still active, tendrils of smoke rising in thick plumes, a visceral view of nature unchecked. Guided by a native of the Andalan village, one can view the world from the perspective of a volcanic giant, biding it’s time in sulphuric silence.
Hot springs provide a more temperate example of the heat bubbling beneath the earth. The Blidit hot springs in the Waigete district meet together in three distinct temperatures; cold, warm and hot. One can sample each after a jungle trek, soaking weary bones in the middle of a natural jungle bathhouse.
One of the largest attractions of East Nusa Tenggara is the opportunity for enjoying world-class yet untouched beaches, diving and snorkeling activities. With opaline waters teeming with exotic sea life and waves ripe for the surfing, the eastern islands are a seafarer’s dream.
East Nusa Tenggara is located between Australian and Asian submarine ridges, fostering conditions for one of the most diverse collection of marine life. Alor Archipelago stands out as one of the best dive regions, as one of the few places in the world where almost every species of fish and coral is present. Sharks, manta rays and pelagic fish congregate in heavy currents. In Komodo, the world’s largest and most fearsome lizard attracts nature’s braver spectators, giving the feeling that sparsely inhabited by people, the land undeniably belongs to the wild.
The Flores Islands, named by the Portuguese for the native crimson flowered Delonix Regia trees, is a world thrown into color. The flaming red of the trees, verdant greens of the jungle, and the cerulean depths of the Kelimutu crater lakes come together in a pulchritudinous palette.
Near the small town of Moni in the Flores Islands, the volcano Kelimutu is known for it’s three awe-inspiring crater lakes. The lakes have three names, Tiwu Ata Bupu (Lake of Old People) Tiwu Ko’o Fai Nuwa Muri (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Bewitched or Enchanted Lake). Each lake has its own personality, with colors changing with the seasons. The westernmost Tiwa Ata Bupu is usually a bright blue, while the other two oscillate between red and green. Geoglists are fascinated by these crater lakes, as they colors are so different yet they share a volcanic peak. The more adventurous visitors can make a trek up to the summit in the morning to watch the sunrise throw rainbows of color across the lakes.
East Nusa Tengara is an amalgamation of ancient traditions and cultures cultivated throughout time. Many villages practice rituals and traditions forsaken or forgotten in other parts of the world. The Tari Perang dance is performed with whip and shield, a display of strength and courage to rouse the village. Folk games such as Caci (ceremonial fighting) and Eku (boxing) are practiced during special festivals and celebrations. Some fighting games are played atop horses; a true display of man and beast coming together in a display of wild strength.
Villagers live in structures referred to as Wae Rebo, conical homes with multiple floors made with palm fronds. Visiting the villages transports one to a simpler time, when more pleasure was taken from being one with the land than with the material world.