Ruteng, the capital (ibu kota) of Manggarai is surrounded by mountains. Ruteng is a lively town (well, at least untill 8 pm) with a wide variation of eateries. It is often rainy, hazy (in the late afternoon) and cold at night (by Indonesian standards) but this is why Manggarai is so beautiful. See also stories. The market is huge and lively as well and worth a visit (watch your step), as is the cathedral which marks the citycentre. People from the western half of Flores come here for their education as for some reason there are many schools in Ruteng. Manggarai people are the Chinese of Indonesia (together with the Batak people from Sumatera).
Ruteng has a lot of accomodation.
Spring Hill Hotel is the best in town. Sky Flores Hotel in the citycentre is also a good (and cheaper) choice. Backpackers should try Cha Cha Homestay & Dormitory. But when you want to sleep at the most ultimate location you should check out Sunrice Homestay, 20 minutes north west of Ruteng.
see separate section for more hotels
Ruteng has many eateries like the padang and Jawa restaurants and warung bakso. Cha Cha is a cosy tourist restaurant (well, at least many of the customers are tourists). Food is excellent and you can have a cold beer with your meal. Also recommended is Alline Pizza and Spring Hill Resto.
Large supermarkets are Sentosa, Pagi and Swalayan 38 but they close early. Another one is Supermarket Nirwana on jalan Banteng and the best there is in Ruteng.
There are many laundries in Ruteng, some of them with a one day service.
Try Geet Laundry tel +62 81236253125 (mobile) or Netto Laundry who has an express service +62 81228487977 (mobile)
TRANSPORT see also
Ruteng had a connection with Kupang (Timor) but since the pandemic still not in operation. The airport is north east close to the town. Like everywhere else cars and ojek (motorcycle) are available at the airport.
BUS LONG DISTANCE
There are buses to Bajawa, Borong, Ende, Labuan Bajo and Reo.
BUS WITHIN TOWN
Bemo/angkot Rp 5000
CAR WITH DRIVER
As almost nobody starts their journey in Ruteng you best can hire a car in Labuan Bajo or coming from the east in Bajawa, Ende or Maumere. If you need one in Ruteng, hotels can help you to find a driver, or contact me. Also check car with driver
OJEK (motorcycle taxi)
Rp 5.000 to Rp 10.000 for a ride which should be the standard rate.
This is a kind of shared “taxi” (a big car, APV or minibus which runs from door to door). They run the same routes as buses. Costs Rp 120.000 - Rp 150.000. Gunung Mas is a recommended company but doesn't serve all towns.
The nearest seaports usefull for tourists are in Labuan Bajo (for Sape on Sumbawa and Benoa on Bali and Makassar on Sulawesi), Aimere (for Waingapu on Sumba) and Reo. Check the section transport in Manggarai Barat or Ngada.
WHAT TO SEE?
The cathedral is a landmark in Ruteng with a wonderful interior.
Ruteng Pu'u is a traditional village within Ruteng which can be an alternative to see Manggarai architecture which is about the same as in Wae Rebo and Todo. No explanation is provided in the village.
Follow the road uphill just outside northern Ruteng and after a few kilometers you will enjoy a panorama of Ruteng town. On top of the hill there is a plateau with a statue of Maria.
Liang Bua (hobbit cave) & museum
In 2003 an Indonesian archaeologist discovered the remains of the homo floresiensis in Liang Bua, 15 kilometers from Ruteng (Manggarai).
Check out facts and thoughts about homo floresiensis.
Liang Bua is only 12 kilometers from Ruteng but via a small road. Ik takes 45 minutes to get there (checked April 2023).
The road to Reo itself is an attraction and although it is 1,5 hours from Ruteng it will take much longer as you probably want to stop frequenlty to enjoy the views.
Halfway 30 minutes off the mainroad near Cibal you can hike to Pangkadari waterfall.
Reo is a lazy small town at the banks of the beautiful Reo river. When you cross the bridge in the direction of Dampek you are in Manggarai Timur again.
West of Reo you follow a small but good road. A nice beach near Robek is pantai Ketebe. There are more deserted beaches along the coast.
You cannot reach Lemarang as the bridge has been collapsed (October 2018, and still not changed). It is not possible to pass with a car. There is a bamboo bridge which can be used for motorcycles but is doesn't look that strong. Local people cross the bamboo bridge with their motorcycle but buddy passengers cross wading the river where the water was kneehigh. After heavy rain it is even not possible at all. Local people from Lemarang have to use boats by that time.
This also means that it is almost impossible to continue all the way to Labuan Bajo as the alternative road inland is in very bad condition. But, the good news (2023) is they are working on it.
Just take one of the roads east before or west of Ruteng and you come across amazing views, green rice terraces, misty mountainviews and deserted villages. Tengkulese waterfall used to be a nice and laidback waterfall surrounded by a gorgeous views however today locals seem to after money only and it can be quiet a hassle to get there.
Cancar is famed for its Cancar spider ricefields. Take the turnoff to the right at the junction in Cancar (Trans Flores Road to Labuan Bajo) and after a few hundred meters there is a hill on your left. Pay Rp 15.000 (or Rp 20.000), walk up the hill for 5 to 10 sweaty minutes and overview the spiderricefields. The ricefields are in "spider model" with the heart of the "spider" at its lowest point, a smart construction for the irrigation of the ricefields. There is also a spider ricefield to be viewed 500 meters from the turn off a few kilometers beyond Cancar (right from Ruteng) via a bumpy road (but you don't need to climb). You also can drive around the valley and meet the Trans Flores again 5 kilometers eastwards but the road is bad and bumpy and may be that bad that you have to go back to Cancar again.
Cycling around Ruteng
As Ruteng and much of the surrounding area is on a plateau the area is suitable for cycling. The only drawback is that there isn't much in the way of rental bicycles.
There is one company which organizes cycling tours with a guide.
Maybe they also rent bicycles without one.
The road Ruteng to Iteng is potholed at some parts and has bumpy crawls between two huge mountains into the forest. But also a beautiful one and part of a national park and offers fine views. This can also be an alternative to get to Dintor and Denge to continue to Wae Rebo. See below.
Todo traditional village
Follow the Trans Flores Road further west and take the turn off to Todo and Wae Rebo. The road is small but good these days and it takes 35 minutes to get there. In Todo a guide/citizen awaits you in sarung and he will take you to the traditional houses and starts the explanation in singsong English (although I tried to communicate in Indonesian). Not really a boost for this tourist attraction. The original residents have already moved years ago from the traditional houses. Entrance fee is Rp 65.000 for foreigners (May 2023) however when you enter a house you are supposed to pay for a donation again.
Wae Rebo, traditional village is one of the main attractions of Flores and has become more
and more popular in the last few years, not to say a big hype. It is a traditional
village secluded in the mountains. Wae Rebo is one of the highlights I did not yet visited myself. I made it to Denge via Todo in 2018 and once again via the south coast via Nangalili in
2019. Both times mainly to check roads and traveling times to get there.
Two-day trips start in Labuan Bajo or in Ruteng. From Labuan Bajo the route is via Lembor and Nangalili. From Ruteng via Todo or via Iteng then on to Dintor and Denge. The road via Iteng is shorter in time when coming from Ruteng, about 4 hours to get to Denge, but the road to Iteng is very bumpy (far more bumpy than via Todo).
Via Todo it takes 3,5 hours from Ruteng to Dintor.
Coming from Labuan Bajo there are two options. Via Todo by car it is around 6,5 hours to Denge. The same route by motorcycle can be done in 5,5 to 6 hours. There is also a road via Nangalili on the south coast. This wil take 4 to 5 hours but sometimes not possible because of heavy rains.
Denge is the startingpoint, for the trekking to Wae Rebo. From Denge ojekdrivers take you a few kilometers uphill. Then you start the trekking 2,5 to 4 hours depending on physical condition and weather. Experiences are different. Some people have to give up halfway (or earlier) as the trekking is too heavy. Other people find the place too touristy.
To be honest: prices and rules are not clear, not fixed and they often change. The only thing which is clear is that prices have increased in the last 5
Today ojek drivers ask Rp 100.000 for a one way trip, quite ridiculous, also as this used to be 50k or 70k not that long ago, which was already far too much. Furthermore you are obliged to take a porter/guide. The fee is Rp 150.000 to Rp 200.000 (per group) - also rather weird why there isn't just one fixed price. Porters/guides are available at any time. They can carry luggage up to 10 kgs.
On the other hand sometimes tourists do not want a porter/guide with the reason they are traveling on a budget which results in one pays and the other
However I strongly advise not to go alone, eg without a porter/guide. Although the track is spacious enough there are no signs and as the trail is through forest and on high elevation weather conditions can change quickly.
The entrancefee without overnight is Rp 200.000 per per person.
Tourists can overnight at the village in one of the traditional houses and sleeping on the floor with a maximum of 30 people for a steep Rp 325.000 per person, plus Rp 50.000 for the ceremony. So if you travel with 2 people and spend the night the total expenses can easily go up to 1,3 million. If you can share the porters fee with other people and only do a day visit it will be a bit cheaper. To be correct the costs for transportation from Ruteng or Labuan Bajo are not included yet.
But touristy, expensive and physically heavy or not, Wae Rebo is still an unique place to go to.
Apart from Ruteng, trips come more popular starting in Labuan Bajo (and I think Wae Rebo has become popular precisely because of the increase of tourists in Labuan Bajo) although it takes more time coming from Labuan Bajo.
There two options to overnight the night before. You can stay at Wae Rebo Lodge in Dentor for Rp 250.000 per person. They also will arange the porter for you.
Tel +6285239344046 or +62 81237121903 (both mobile). In Denge (20 to 30 minutes from Dintor) you can overnight at the homestay of mr. Blasius Monta tel. +6281339350775 for Rp 200.000 night/person.
Another thing is to consider to go there or not is that the villagers are infected by the hordes of tourists in the months of June, July, August and September and tourism will take over traditional life in Wae Rebo. You also can choose for a hike in one day. You still need to pay a fee of Rp 200.000 per person! This is best done when coming from Ruteng. Start from Ruteng early morning around 6 am, followed by the hike and then downhill for 2 hours so you can stay in one of the two guesthouses. A (very long) daytrip from Ruteng is possible as well.
If you want to visit a traditional village on Flores
there are good alternatives which are less touristy and businesslike.
Try Belaraghi on the way from Bajawa to Ruteng for example or maybe Tololela south of Bajawa near the Inerie volcano.
How to get there?
See above. By car it is best done by suv but actually even better by motorbike (international driving license for motorbike is mandatory) as the road is partly often in bad condition.
Additional comments of trips in 2018 and 2019
Update May 2018
If for some reason you want to find a driver in Ruteng you can ask for a driver via Cha Cha Restaurant who can take tourists to Wae Rebo. There are two options. The trip can be done in one but very long day, starting at 6 am in the morning and coming back in Ruteng again in the late evening. Costs are Rp 1.300.000. The two day trip is
Rp 1.500.000. The difference of Rp 200.000 is actually for accommodation and food for the driver.
Update March 2019
I also checked the possibility via the south coast coming from Labuan Bajo via Nangalili, just after Lembor. With an interruption of heavy rainfall and therefore a broken bridge everything is more or less ok again. This could be done in 5 hours.
The road out from Dintor traveling from west to east or in from Ruteng to Dintor can also be done via Iteng on the south coast. However at the time of writing (October 2018) you will not save much time as the bridge near Iteng is broken and a detour has to be made and the road Iteng to Ruteng is very, very bad. See the stretch above. The only advantage is you can use different roads and the Ruteng-Iteng Road runs through dense forest. After all this is part of the adventure too.
Anne Mieke -AM PHOTONESIA©-