Flores: A Melting Pot of Unique Cultures
With Indonesia’s thousands of islands and hundreds of distinct ethnic groups, all with their own languages and cultures, choosing the best destination for your holiday break in this vast island nation is not always easy.
One the most beautiful and culturally rich is Flores, a large elongated island in East Nusa Tenggara province, the tenth largest in the Indonesian archipelago. Best known for being the gateway to Komodo National Park, Flores has such an abundance of sights and activities that travelers can spend an entire vacation exploring and still not have time to see it all.
Flores is an island with an eventful past that has led to a diverse mix of people and customs. Christianity came to the island with the arrival of the Portuguese and today it is the dominant religion, however, many ethnic minorities still practice animism alongside Christian beliefs. The island’s mountainous terrain has also helped to seclude the various tribes from each other, leading to pockets of distinctly different cultures and languages, all in relatively close proximity to one another.
In the Bajawa region of central Flores, there are many traditional villages scattered throughout the mountain foothills. Trekking opportunities are plentiful at Mount Inerie, a perfectly shaped volcano looming out of the clouds in the south, along with the newly formed Wawo Muda volcano nearby. Travelers can also enjoy visiting the area’s piping hot springs and cascading waterfalls.
However, one of the most fascinating parts of your visit to Flores will undoubtedly be meeting the different tribal communities and learning about their cultures. Unreachable by car, Bela Raghi village is an 11 km trek into the jungle, but once reaching this incredible mountainside oasis, you will no longer be a tourist, but simply an honored guest of the village.
With tall thatched roofs, the 16 impressive village dwellings are laid out parallel to each other in a forest clearing. Guests are greeted with a traditional ceremony to ward off evil spirits they may have picked up on their journey. After the ritual greetings visitors can sit back and relax, swapping tales of their day’s adventures and getting to know villagers, while enjoying a hearty home-cooked meal.
Khiri Travel’s local guide will translate and also provide you with some fascinating insight into the host family’s society and culture. With no electricity, the village oil lamps create an intimate atmosphere transporting you back in time to a different world. Some of the local villages also provide homestay accommodations for those who wish to stay overnight.
For more information and booking requests about Flores, Indonesia, as well as Nusa Tenggara, Komodo National Park, Bajawa, Mount Inerie and Wawo Muda, email us at [email protected].