Visiting Kelimutu Volcanic Lakes

Ready for one of the most magical experiences in Indonesia? I experienced the Kelimutu Volcanic Lakes with Skyscanner and have to recommend you do the same! While I’m all about spending another day lazing around beautiful Bali, it’s time to get to the island of Flores to take in the great outdoors.

Here’s everything you need to know about visiting the Kelimutu Volcanic Lakes!

Flight into Flores

Getting There

The Kelimutu Volcanic Lakes are located on the island of Flores near the small town of Moni. You’ve got a few different options for getting there. If you are starting in Bali, you can fly into Ende or Maumere.

Maumere is the largest town in Flores and a great place for a stopover. If you spend the night in Maumere, it’ll take you about four hours to reach Moni. From Moni, the Kelimutu Volcanic Lakes are about forty-five minutes away.

Flying into Ende is another good option. From the airport, it is forty minutes to Ende city and then three hours to the nearest village. From the village, people usually walk about two and a half hours to get to the lakes. The entire island of Flores is gorgeous, so it’s one of those situations where the journey is just as good as the destination.

Whichever way you get to Kelimutu Volcanic Lakes, it’s worth it.

Best Time to Go

Indonesia’s dry season runs from May to September, and you’ll generally find the best weather in July and August. If you can go during the summer, I’d recommend it, but do keep in mind that it’s the peak season, so you’ll want to make reservations for everything. I visited the Kelimutu Volcanic Lakes in September, and it was an amazing experience!

Whenever you go, you’ll want to plan on getting up early to watch the sunrise.

Kelimutu Volcanic Lakes Hike

Hiking Kelimutu

On the day you are hiking Kelimutu, be sure that you are staying nearby. You can stay in Moni, which is your closest pick, but it’s got a limited number of (bare bones) guesthouses. Maumere has the widest variety of options, but it’ll take you about four hours to get to Kelimutu. Ende has some good mid-range picks and will have you about three hours from the lakes.

Keep in mind, we are talking about a seriously early adventure.

You’ll want to arrive by 4:30 a.m. to get to the peak in time for sunrise. I know that’s a crazy early day, but it’s well worth it. It’ll take you less than thirty minutes to hike up to the top, and it’s an easy walk.

Kelimutu Volcanic Lakes Hike

As you are walking up, be sure to follow the signs.

The path winds around a bit and you’ll want to make sure you make it ALL the way up to the top. Also, grab breakfast before you go! There are lots of people selling little snacks and drinks but it’s good to have a hearty meal to start your day.

Kelimutu Volcanic Lakes

Interesting Facts

The Kelimutu Volcanic Lakes have a fascinating backstory. There are three different lakes together where locals believe their ancestors’ spirits live on. 

They believe that the lakes change color as the spirits’ moods change.

The westernmost lake is called the Lake of Old People (Tiwu Ata Mbupu). If you live a good life, your spirit will go to this lake after you die. This lake is usually blue.

The other two lakes are right next to each other. The Lake of Young Men and Maidens (Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai) is most often an emerald color. The Enchanted Lake (Tiwu Ata Polo) is famously blood red and it’s where bad spirits go.

Kelimutu Lakes

While there’s no hard evidence of what actually causes the color changes, scientists believe that it has to do with the volcano gas activity that causes a chemical reaction with the lakes’ natural minerals—but that story isn’t nearly as fun!


READ NEXT: 10 Incredible Adventures to Have in Indonesia


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Kiersten Rich
Kiersten Rich is the bikini-obsessed author of award-winning solo female travel and lifestyle blog, The Blonde Abroad, featuring travel tips, fashion, food, festivals and photography from around the world.