Maumere, Flores

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Sun 26 Oct 2008 05:13

Having listened to the detailed rally briefings from Richard Bolt, we decided to use the article published in the Oyster News, issue 62, published in June 2007. This described in detail the cruising around Nusa Tenggara by the Dutch owned yacht Adesso. 


First stop was to be Flores.  We motored all the way from Kupang to Maumere Bay on Flores, a passage of 200 nm.  It was steamy hot, and with no wind to cool down the boat. We were cooking!! So were the teak decks. Although I had done some repairs to the caulking on the decks whilst in Darwin, new patches of the Sikaflex seemed to be going soft and sticky, on a daily basis. A bit like the tarmac on the roads in the UK, when we get one of those rare hot summer days. We had to be careful not to step in the “soft” bits and get it on the soles of our feet and hence spread it throughout the boat.  All quite tedious really. But I guess boats built in Northern Europe are just not designed to cope with consistent temperatures over 35°C!




This was to be our first experience of a Spice Island. We were not overly encouraged whilst on passage there, as the Northern coast of Flores is very arid and rugged.


We were travelling in company with Marianne, Lousill and Heidenskip. Our objective was the anchorage off the  Sea World  Resort, a couple of miles west of Maumere town itself.  This is quite a tricky anchorage, with reefs about, all with the added excitement that the C-Map electronic charts are not that accurate in these parts.

We were the last to arrive, but the others had provided clear details and a waypoint on where to aim for. This was true rally spirit at its best, and to cap it all, Robert on Heidenskip put on his Strobe masthead light to guide us in, because the sun was well down by the time we arrived. But not too late for us to meet up for drinks on Heidenskip and go ashore to the restaurant in the resort for diner, before retiring for an early night.


Marianne had been the first to arrive and they had dingied ashore to book a tour for us all the next morning to visit the Kelimutu National Park. As this involved a 4 hour drive from the resort, we had to start at 0500. This was something of a shock to the system!! But as it turned out, very worthwhile.


We soon left the bustling area around Maumere, and for the first part of our journey headed  cross country over the top of the east end of Flores heading for the south coast, where the main road runs through several (very poor) villages and towns. In very short order we were amongst green countryside. It was lush and  luxuriant with all manner of trees and shrubs and spices! There were Coffee Bushes, Coco Trees, Many varieties of Nuts trees. Some filling whole valleys. There were Clove trees as well.



This is what a clove (cluster) looks like before it is harvested and dried.


Most of the farming we saw was on a small scale with the crops being dried in the sun on the road side.


  Cloves on the left Coffee beans on the right.


The Island is very undulating and has many very step to hillsides. The children in the villages were so happy and every time they saw us coming along in our mini bus they shouted out “Hello Mister….”, whilst waving enthusiastically and beaming at us. This was a very heart warming experience.


Once we were nearer the south west coast, we turned in land, heading for the national park and the unique Volcano’s it contains. Along the way, we came to an enchanting valley with paddy fields. The green colour of the rice growing here was a livid green. Positively iridescent!



The terracing of these fields is a true feat of engineering with the water irrigation schemes and regimentation of each sub-field.


Interspersed amongst the fields were small houses and shelters for the farmers.



The roads were, on the whole very good. But our transport was old and tired and it was with welcome relief that we stopped from time to time to take photographs and stretch our legs and get the circulation going once again. Four hours travelling in this vehicle and on the steep and windy roads was very tiring.


We eventually arrived at the National Park. It was then time for a 30 minute walk up a long stair way to the object of our trip. The three Volcanoes. Now these are unique in the world. They are still active. But, instead of belching smoke and lava, they are filled with water. Two of the volcanoes have almost merged into one. The volcanic activity now mixes base metals with the water as well as other elements and these create an ever changing colour scheme in the water.



These two volcanoes are separated by a narrow strip if rock. At the time we visited, the one the right, was influenced primarily by Iron and so was a brownish red in  

colour. Whereas the one on the left was active with a copper and so was a surreal duck egg blue colour.



The third opening was a short distance away, and this time the water was jet black. Apparently the water changes colour on a regular basis, depending on ambient temperature, humidity and which ever chemicals and elements are being released by the volcanic activity.


The view from here over Flores is nothing short of spectacular and its is a very temperate climate too at this height (which from memory was around 5000 feet above sea level). It was strange being able to look down on the clouds whist still on Terra Firma!



Whilst we are on the peaks, a troop of Macaque monkey’s came through. They were very shy and clearly very wary of humans. They scuttled way across the scree long before I could get them in the frame for a picture or two!


We made our way back down to the car park and enjoyed some locally grown coffee and a bit of retail therapy, with the locals selling Ikat blankets and sarongs.


We stopped off at a local restaurant for Nesi Goring and  Bintang, before heading back to the Resort. Along the way we saw Flock trees. These have a seed pod that is akin to cotton. The soft white fluffy material being used to stuff mattresses.



Another joy were the wild flowers and especially the Orchids that grow at the road side.



The flower on this wild orchid was nearly two inches long. It was so delicate and beautiful, set in amongst the lush greenery.


As were made our way back across the Paddy Fields we spotted a Water Buffalo and a young calf, wallowing in a mud hole.



Taking this picture was a delicate balancing act. I wanted to get as close as possible for the best close up picture…..but not too close, because as our guide pointed out, this was the Daddy Buffalo and they can be VERY protective of their young………….You will be pleased to hear that I survived to tell the tale!


Just before arriving back at the resort we stopped off in down town Maumere. What a dump!! In the true sense of the word. Garbage and rubbish everywhere and the smells assaulted the senses. But the “girls” needed to buy some fresh vegetables. Lettuce, Tomatoes, Pak Choy, Aubergines and many exotic fruits abounded.



The  goods for sale are just laid out on the ground on bits of sack cloth and the young traders enthusiastically offered up their finest crops at their “best” prices…………..


What was fascinating here was the rapidity with which the crowd grew once three fair skinned blonde women were spotted in the market. Within what seemed seconds, there were well over 70 on lookers and our guide was getting very edgy. So we all decamped back to the mini bus and headed back to our boats.


It had been a very long and tiring day. But very well worth it. The people on Flores, mostly Catholic Christian, were warm, and very friendly, poor and happy. The scenery is simply breathtaking. I would not hesitate to come back here.


So it was with some trepidation that we looked forward to our next stop on Flores, which was to be Riung Bay.