The capital of Manggarai (ibu kota) is
Ruteng 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 worthwhile a visit, as is the cathedral which marks the citycentre.
People from the western half of Flores come here for their education as there are for some reason many schools. Manggarai people are the Chinese of Indonesia (together with the Batak people from Sumatera).
SLEEP see separate section
Ruteng has many eateries like the padang and Jawa restaurants and warung bakso. Cha Cha is a cosy touristrestaurant (well, at least many of the customers are tourists). Food is excellent and you can have a beer with your meal.
Large supermarkets are Sentosa, Pagi and Swalayan 38 but they close early. Another new one is Supermarket Nirwana on jalan Banteng.
There are two laundries near the postoffice. Both have a one day service including ironing.
TRANSPORT sea also
Ruteng has a connection with Kupang (Timor). The airport
is northeast close to the town. Like everywhere else cars and ojek (motorcycle) are available at the
Bus long distance
There are buses to Bajawa, Borong, Labuan Bajo, Maumere and Reo.
Bus within town
Bemo/angkot Rp 3000
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.
Ojek (motorcycle taxi)
Rp 3000 to Rp 10.000 for a ride which should be the standard rate.
This is a kind of shared “taxi” (a big car or minibus which runs from door to door). They run the same routes as buses. Costs Rp 100.000 - Rp 150.000.
The nearest seaports usefull for tourists are in Labuan Bajo (for Sape on Sumbawa, Makassar on Sulawesi) and Aimere (for Waingapu on Sumba). Check the section transport in Manggarai or Ngada.
WHAT TO SEE?
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.
In 2003 an Indonesian archaeologist discovered the remains of the homo floriensis in Liang Bua, 15 kilometers from Ruteng (Manggarai).
Check out facts and thoughts about homo floriensis.
Liang Bua is only 12 kilometers from Ruteng but via a small road. Ik takes 45 minutes to get there (checked May
The road to Reo itself is an attraction and although it is 1,5 to 2 hours from Ruteng it will takes much longer as you want to stop frequenlty. Reo is a lazy small town at the banks of the Reo river which is an attraction itself. Crossing the bridge in the direction of Dampek you are in Manggarai Timur again.
West of Reo
West of Reo you follow a small but good road. Nice beaches near Robek, pantai Ketebe. At the moment you cannot reach Lemarang as the bridge has been collapsed; not possible to pass with car. There are more deserted beaches. At the time of writing (May 2018) you only can drive as far as a few kilometers before Lemarang as the bridge is collapsed an no signs yet of building a new one. 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 buddypassengers cross wading the river where the water was kneehigh. After heavy rain it is even not possible to cross. 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,
Just take one of the roads east before or west after Ruteng and you come across amazing views, green rice terraces, misty mountainviews and deserted villages.
Cancar spider ricefields
Cancar is famed for its spiderweb 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, walk up the hill for 5 to 10 sweaty minutes and overview the
spiderricefields. The ricefields are in "spidermodel" 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
Looking on the map Tangkulese waterfall seems not so far from Cancar which is true when it comes to distance. But, to get there is not so easy. The "best" route (still potholed on many stretches) is via a road inland. Turn right near Golokoe, then follow the direction of Kokar. It will take 1,5 to 2 hours from Ruteng. From the village you'll have to do some trekking to reach the waterfall (1 hour) but you can see the waterfall from a distance. Go early morning as after 2 pm it will rain (almost every day). There is a road from Cancar as well but not recommended for cars (motorcycle only).
Road Ruteng to Iteng
This road (partly potholed) crawls between two huge mountains into the forest and is part of a national park and offers fine views. This can also be an alternative to get to Dintor to continue to Wae Rebo. See below.
Todo traditional village
Follow the Trans Flores Road further west an take the turn off to Todo and Wae Rebo. The road is bad and small, the views terrific. 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 orginal residents have already moved years ago from the traditional houses.
Wae Rebo, traditional village
I still have the intention to go there one day.
But touristy and physically heavy or not, Wae Rebo is still an unique place to go to.
Apart from Ruteng trips come more populair starting in Labuan Bajo (and I think Wae Rebo has become populair precisely because of the increase of tourists in Labuan Bajo) although it takes more time coming from Labuan Bajo if I read the reports. Tourist 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 350.000 per person. Besides that tourists are obliged to hire a porter for Rp 200.000 per person. Then is is another vague contribution one should pay. All costs together for overnight in the village are almost Rp 600.000 per person. Many people, including locals from Flores are complaining about this, as this should not be the way and it seems to be about money only. The other thing is that the villagers are infected by the hordes of tourists in the months of June, July and Augustus and tourism will take over traditional life in Wae Rebo.
If you want to visit a traditional village on Flores there are some good alternatives which are less touristy and businesslike. Try Belaraghi on the way from Bajawa to Ruteng for example or maybe Bena or Gurusina south of Bajawa near Inerie mountain.
How to get there?
This is another sensitive thing. The trip to Dentor via Todo will take 4 hours or so via a small and bad road followed by the trekking. So Ruteng - Wae Rebo wil take 6 to 8 hours, depending on weather and also physical condition. The trip continuing the next day to Labuan Bajo wil take 8 to 11 hours as the road is via Todo again to reach the Trans Flores Road. Drivers who take tourists overland Maumere to Labuan Bajo or the other way around are not so keen anymore to go to Wae Rebo and many of them ask for an extra charge as the road is prone to cause damage to the car.
Update May 2018
In Ruteng you can ask a driver via Cha Cha Restaurant who can take tourists to Wae Rebo. There two options. The trip can be done in one but very long day, starting at 6
in the morning and coming back in Ruteng again in the 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 accomodation and food for the driver.
I also checked the possibility via the south coast coming from Labuan Bajo but this can only done by motorbike. To get there take the road to the right after Lembor in
the direction of Nangalili or Kaca and then further on to Dintor. This could be done in
5 to 6 hours I think.
The road out from Dintor traveling from west to east or in from Ruteng to Dintor can also be done via Iteng on the sout coast. See the stretch above. It is still a long way but more comfortable but please still expect potholes and mud. After all this is part of the adventure too.