Friday, March 6, 2015

2/17/15 Day 397 No Fees for Free: Kelimutu Tri Colored Lakes: Flores, Indonesia

We all tucked ourselves in early as our climb to Kelimutu was set for 1 in the morning. The park fees for this volcano are the same inflated 150,000 rupiah that all of Indonesia's natural wonders seem to be panhandling, leaving us no equal adrenaline inducing alternative as sneaking in. Luckily for us all that requires is hiking the long way at an obscenely early time stamp. We struggled out of bed and pulled on our warmest clothes with the bright luminance of the moon in the sky and stars shining bright to lead our way, aided by the more directed light of our headlamps. Kevin, Julie, Gus and I worked our way up the stretch of road that qualifies as Moni village turning left when we arrived at Rainbow Cafe, we walked across the bridge and the waterfall invisible to the eye but audible to our ears and continued up the path. More than one time we nearly jumped out of our skins being alerted to a huge animal thrashing about in front of us, with glowing eyes and a loud ringing, cow bell, I can't imagine how frightened Bessie and her friends must have been, we certainly were! For the most part even in the darkness the path was clear besides a few forks where we would look from one another to play identify that route; path, cow-track or water runoff trail. We were nearing the top when a flashlight shone right above us, tracking our progress on Google maps I could see we were just passing the "ranger station" busted I thought! We sheepishly continued towards the light which intermittently flashed our direction until we met the local Kelimutu kopi lady. What a relief, after Gus spoke to her in his casual conversation level Indonesian Bahasa (some Australian's have it as a language option in high school) about her son, the weather and whatever else came to mind she walked and talked the rest of the way up the path with us until the parking lot. We parted ways so she could attract some business and we finished our hike up the cement stairs to the top of Kelimutu, a respectable 1639 meters above sea level and known as one of the countries ribus, or peaks of more than 1,000 meters (ribu means 1000 in Bahasa).The hour waiting for the colors of the sunrise to break through was bitter cold, luckily we had all of the layers we had shed on the way up. It took us 3 hours to climb up the long way and on the way down we walked alongside the road for the slightly shorter route, marching ourselves proudly under the pay station draw gate and cheekily waving goodbye as we passed. It is known locally that souls come here and are segregated into one of the three lakes. Tiwu Ata Bupu is the lake of old people it was the darkest of the three on this particular day and is set back behind the observation deck for the lakes, known as Inspiration Point. Tiwu Ko'o Fai Nuwa Muri is the lake reserved for young men/maidens lastly and sharing a volcanic crust divider is Tiwu Ata Polo known as the enchanted lake. There is not abundant information available for an explanation of the colors, but it has something to do with the volcanic gas activity and the chemical reactions of the minerals in the water. The lakes do change colors periodically and while they were three shades of a relatively similar turquoise while we saw them they are most famously photographed when one was red, one was black and one was green, no matter what the tinge they are certainly beautiful!

Tiwu Ata Polo, just waiting for the elderly to creep inside
Tiwu Ko'o Fai Nuwa Muri for the ladies and gentlemen

Cold, cold morning
Waiting for the morning mist to clear out and reveal the last lake, what color will it be?!

The last lake, Tiwu Ata Bupu finally warming up and pushing out the haze 

Glad we didn't have to pay those fees
Walking right out the entrance, free as a bird

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