The 3 colourful craters lake of Mount Kelimutu
During our trip through Flores Island, we visited the impressive Mount Kelimutu. It’s a volcanic peak where craters are filled with water and form 3 amazing lakes: the Tiwu Ata Mbubu, Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai and Tiwu Ata Polo.
After sleeping in the small village of Moni, at 4 am, we are ready to climb up Mount Kelimutu and enjoy a spectacular sunrise. The peak rises for 1600 meters, and it’s well known because its 3 water basins have a different colour: turquoise, dark green and black.
Anyway, the colour of the 3 crater lakes has changed several times dramatically over the last years because of a natural phenomenon. The minerals inside their waters and the gases and fumes that emerge from the cracks in the earth’s crust on the lakes bottom mix the waters creating an always different colour. Our guide explained that this natural phenomenon, known as upwelling, as regards Mount Kulimutu, is unpredictable, and nobody knows what colour the waters will be before seeing them. The two lakes, Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai and Tiwu Ata Polo, are only separated by a small volcanic rock layer, while the Tiwu Ata Mbubu is slightly more distant.
Kelimutu means the “Boiling Mountain”, and according to the legend, the souls of those who died at a young age live in the Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai, the largest of the three and that change the colour between turquoise and blue.
In Tiwu Ata Polo is where the bewitched souls rest, and it’s changed the colour between dark green and dark red, whereas the Tiwu Ata Mbupu is the resting place for the elderly souls with its black watercolour.
The path to reach the sunrise viewpoint is nothing so challenging, and it takes around 30-40 minutes. When the clouds on the 3 crater lakes disappear pushed by the wind, the view is stunning.
Need to Know about Kelimutu
We rented a car with a driver/guide through the local tour operator Komodo blessing adventure in Labuan Bajo. It’s not possible to make a daily trip from Labuan Bajo because the volcano is more than 400 km away, and it takes about 10 hours to reach it. Therefore, if you are in Labuan Bajo, you need a couple of days. The fastest and easiest way to visit Keli Mutu is to book with a local tour operator. Alternatively, you can ask at Bajo airport, where you’ll find a taxi desk that offers taxi rides through the island. In case you decide to take the local transportation, take in mind that you’ll need more than 2 days since the road to cross the island is hilly, plenty of curves and not that good. It’s easier to plan a daily trip if you sleep in Maumere, a city only 100 km away from the volcano. Maumere has a tiny airport with a flight to Bali Denpasar.
The base to climb Mount Kelimutu is the small village of Moni, located only a few minutes away from the entrance gate. The town is always busy, especially during the peak season (June to August) and it’s better if you book in advance for your accommodation.