Flores – The cape of flowers
Mountainous Flores could very well be the highlight of your visit to Nusa Tenggara. Considered by many to be one of Indonesia’s most beautiful islands, Flores has grandiose volcanoes, high mountain lakes, stretches of savannah, and tropical forests. One of Indonesia’s most fascinating ethnological regions, the island has intact tribes practicing their own brand of animism, as well as cultural and artistic traditions.
Approximately 400 km long, and an average of 60 km wide, frequently shaken by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, Flores is dotted with deep ravines and rugged valleys which account for the difficulty of travel and the island’s distinctive cultures. The spectacular ridge of extremely weathered mountains runs down the middle with volcanoes lazily spewing smoke softly into the sky. The peaks of these mountains range from over 2,100 m to the highest at 2,600 m. Flores interior and eastern parts are covered in tropical forests. The constant sound of running water through rice fields, fantastic views of surrounding volcanoes, the distant ocean, and the sound of running rivers make the atmosphere very peaceful.
Prehistoric giant bats, reptiles, stegosaurs, and one species of elephant once roamed this island. Seeing the eastern cape blooming flamboyantly, the Portuguese explorer S.M. Cabot christened the island Capo de Flores or “Cape of Flowers” in 1544.
Flores is famous for its volcano, Mount Kelimutu. Each of the three lakes atop this extinct volcano are separated by low ridges and have different coloured waters. Legend has it that Kelimutu is an abode of the dead. In the maroon lake live the souls of sinners, in the emerald green lake the souls of young men, virgins and the pure of hearts while in the turquoise lake dwell the souls of the elderly. Actually, the colours are in constant flux as their waters leak minerals from the earth, which dissolve and change the colour of the water from time to time.