Another Side of Flores: Bena Village and Kelimutu Lake
This is actually one of my posts as guest-blogger for Lovecreatewander.com, a community blog for female solo travelers, but since the site has been put down, I make it reposted here.
On our third day in Flores, we left Waerebo and headed to Ngada District in centre of Flores to visit Bena, a megalithic village 16km from Bajawa at the foot of Mount Inerie (Big Mama), an active volcano as high as 2,245 meters above sea level that is considered the highest mountain in Flores. To Bena villagers, Mt. Inerieis the abode of their god Zeta and the natural resting place of Bhaga, the female ancestors.
In Bena, there are nine tribes who inhabit the 45 units of housing, namely: the tribe dizi, dizi Azi tribe, the tribe Wahto, tribal Lalulewa roar, roar Solamae tribe, the tribe Ngada, Khopa tribes, and tribal Ago. Life in the village is maintained with a stone age culture that has not changed much since 1,200 years ago.
At the parking lot, some local ladies welcomed us with smiles on their red mouths from chewing betel nut. The sleepy me suddenly got excited when lovely traditional huts were seen from afar. These huts are decorated with hanging bones of animals that symbolize specific things related to their beliefs.
Arranged in a square shape on terraced land, the houses in a village are completely cleared of vegetation. The space in the centre of the square is used for ceremonies and gatherings. Some small huts can be seen in front of the houses. Ngadhu that is similar to an umbrella or parasol, is carved out of a certain tree to be dedicated for male ancestors. This small hut is also used to hang the sacrificed buffalo. The stone base is used for the sacrifice.
In the form of miniature Ngada house with special carving, Bhaga is the resting place of female ancestors.
There are also megalith stone altars for sacrifices arranged here and there in the village, and guess what I found? Some graves in front of the houses!
We came at the same time of a ceremony when animals (buffalos and pigs) were sacrificed by men of the village to be cooked and shared in a big feast. This ceremony followed the building of a new house. I’m truly sorry if you find it cruel or brutal, so I’m only posting 1 photo of the ceremony.
Visitors can buy crafted ikat (traditional woven yarn-dyed cloth, sarong and belt) in Bena, with motifs range from animal patterns like horses, chickens, elephants, and the sacred ngadhu and bagha symbols. I used the woven belt as headband.
Most women in Bena wear a sarong, a kind of woven cloth in a turbular shape that is worn as a long skirt.
Not far from the village, there is Malanage hot springs. We didn’t want to skip getting soaked in the springs because we wanted to rest and relax for a while after several days of road trip.
The night after a half-day drive from Bena, we arrived in Moni, a small village about 50km east of Ende to stay overnight at a homestay there to get some rest before departing to Kelimutu Lake.
At around 3:45 am of our 4th day in Flores, we left the homestay for Kelimutu, a three-colored crater lake. No long trekking needed to reach the summit after an hour drive, just a 30-minute normal walk. We got a nice view of the sunrise around the lakes. I found some sellers with nice yarn-dyed woven fabrics (familiarly called “tenun ikat”) around the parking area and I bought some scarves and a sarong for a good price. The journey wouldn’t be complete If I hadn’t brought any tenun ikat home!
We ended our overland tour in Flores after visiting Kelimutu Lake. I hope to have another chance to explore other parts of flores in the future. Below are a few landscape photos that I took from the airplane window, hopefully you may find a way to come to Flores one day.