Kelimutu Lakes look as if God accidentally dropped bright-colour paint in a crater of a volcano. There are three of them in one crater, each of a different colour, and the colours are constantly changing. When I saw them, two had almost the same tone of turquoise (one slightly brighter than the other), and the third one was very dark green. They used to be different, and had colours including: blue, black, brown and reddish. The process of colour changing is due to a chemical reaction and weather and is happening fast. According to Wikipedia (yes, I have just used Wikipedia as a reference), the colours changed six times between January and November 2016.
I made two attempts to reach Kelimutu crater. My goal was to get there from Bali on a motorbike. I wanted to do that trip overland and by ferries between the islands. I eventually achieved that, but there were some moments when I was thinking that I had set an impossible goal. I failed at the first attempt when I was already in Sumbawa island (one more ferry cruise and I would be in Flores – the island where Kelimutu is located). It was in Lakey Beach when I got to know that Bima, the city in Sumbawa, is flooded due to heavy rainfalls, and there is no other way to reach Sape, the place where the ferry to Flores starts from. So from Lakey I had to turn back to Bali.
The second time I tried, and it was eventually a successful attempt, was also during the rainy season, which does not last that long in Lesser Sunda Islands. But the journey me and my friends embarked on had a bad timing – it coincided with the heaviest and most frequent rains. We were travelling on motorbikes with backpacks and tents, the journey lasted four weeks instead of the planned two or three, so the most often repeated words during that trip were: “girls, we are not normal”.
We did not take a single homestay during that time. Among the weirdest places that I slept in were: a hospital, a church, a tent in a local house (tent as a protection from mosquitoes or cockroaches, once even from snakes). I still cannot believe that we spent one month of our lives in that way.
During the second attempt a few things occured which made me doubt again whether I was ever going to be able to reach Kelimutu. Among them were:
Ewa got a fish bone stuck in her throat, but luckily the hospital staff in Dompu did a great job and removed the unwanted object.
Once we got to Sape we were told that the ferry from Sumbawa to Flores was not operating until nobody-knows-when, and “maybe tomorrow” turned out to be five days.
When we eventually got to Ende regency in Flores, we saw streams of water and rocks on the road, fallen trees, and tourists turning back from Kelimutu, saying that the crater had been closed due to terrible weather conditions.
So we waited. We were waiting for another four days in Moni village, at the foot of the volcano, with no electricity, since the falling trees damaged the cables transmitting electricity to the village. We ate sweet potato and pumpkin soup in Mopi’s Place, in the evening we sat together with the brothers that ran the business and we played instruments (unplugged) and sang, barely being able to read the lyrics with the candle light.
It seems that we appreciated the stunning beauty of Kelimutu even more, also because we had to wait so long for the nature to reveal that beauty.
In the first hours that Kelimutu National Park was open for visitors again, we rode our bikes up the road to the crater. It was foggy. The clouds on the top were dense, coming in and away. Finally, after maybe half an hour of waiting on the top, all three lakes were visible: the two turquoise lakes adjacent to each other; and the third, a dark green one, looking very enigmatic. Me and Dijana were completely alone there. It was almost a spiritual experience.
The lakes are believed to be a spiritual place though. According to the local beliefs, souls of the dead rest in Kelimutu lakes. One lake is for those who die young, one is the lake for old people, and one is where evil spirits go. For my friends from Poland – if you want to know more, you can listen to a short broadcast about Kelimutu by Tomasz Gorazdowski.