Day 1: Arrive in Denpasar, Bali
Welcome to Bali! Upon arrival in Denpasar, you'll be picked up by an MTS representative and transferred to the stunning four-star Risata Bali in Tuban. As guests will be arriving at different times, the evening is free to dine and explore. Please note that this entire trip is below 6,000 feet.
Day 2: Fly from Bali to Flores
Today we'll transfer to the airport for our very early flight from Denpasar to Ende, Flores. The island of Flories part of Nusa Tenggara and the eastern islands of Indonesia. We'll be met at the airport by our guide, who'll escort us on a beautiful 2-hour drive to Moni. After checking in at the stunning Kelimutu Ecolodge and enjoying lunch, we'll travel to the village of Wolotopo for our first taste of Flores. Wolotopo is lively village, built into a fairly steep hillside, and home to the Lionese people who strongly adhere to their "adat" or cultural practices. Taking a stroll around the village offers insights into their daily activities, including ikat weaving. Feast on a welcome dinner at the lodge and rest up this evening (we'll awake bright and early for a sunrise walk to Kelimutu volcano tomorrow).
Day 3: Climb the craters of Kelimutu and journey to Bajawa
Rise early for a 45-minute drive to Mount Kelimutu, where we'll enjoy easy walks to its strikingly colorful volcanic craters. Tiwu Ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People) is usually blue and is the westernmost of the three lakes. The other two lakes, Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Bewitched or Enchanted Lake) are separated by a shared crater wall and are typically green or red respectively. The lake colors vary on a periodic basis depending on the mineral content of the water. After our crater adventure, we'll return to the hotel for breakfast and packing. Next we'll take a 2-hour drive to Saga traditional village in Ende, where we'll enjoy lunch before our next 4-hour drive through the mountainous landscapes of southern Flores to the quiet town of Bajawa. Late in the afternoon we'll visit our first traditional Ngada village in Wogo. The village hosts impressive ancestral stones as well as the typical Ngadhu and Bhaga shrines representing the clan's ancestors. Dinner this evening will be at the hotel or in a local restaurant in Bajawa.
Day 4: Explore Ngada villages
This morning, we'll explore Ngada culture around Bajawa, visit a bamboo plantation, and stop for some scenic views over Mount Inarie—one of the highest volcanoes in Flores (7,400'), known for its distinctive conical shape. The two most visited areas in the Ngada region are Bena and Wogo, both unique megalithic complexes with traditional housing. To Ngada society, the traditional houses occupy an important role as organizational units, as villagers must each belong to a house and thereby a clan. Clan totems can be ornately crafted symbols of this social organization. We'll visit Bena and then trek to the village of Tololela and onto Gurusina. From Gurusina, we'll continue to Malange Hot Springs for a refreshing bath! After lunch, we'll return to the hotel for some well-deserved relaxation.
Day 5: Trek to remote Belaragi and enjoy a homestay
Today we'll be totally immersed in the Ngada culture. After a short transfer to Beiposo village, we'll begin our fulfilling 4- to 5-hour trek among the dry savannah, enjoying beautiful views over the Sewu Sea and passing remote villages along the way. At lunchtime we'll reach the distant village of Belaragi, where we'll have the opportunity to experience the warm hospitality of the local clans and spend the night! Founded in the 16th century, Belaragi has16 traditional houses set in a quiet forest clearing. Most of the houses are made of bamboo and reeds and five of the houses are called sao pu’u or original houses, indicated by a miniature house on the roof. The other five distinctive buildings are sao lobo or the last houses, which feautre a miniature human figure on the roof. Five is also the number of clans living in Belaraghi at present. To the Belaraghi people, visitors from abroad are consider as guests, not tourists. Therefore, guests are traditionally welcomed with a ceremony called ti’i ka ebu nusi involving animal sacrifice, which translates as ‘give food to the ancestors.’ This ceremony is about introducing the guests to the host’s ancestors, to ask for their blessings so that no obstacles may come in the way of the traveler, and to ask the evil spirits in the mountains not to cause any harm to them. The ritual takes place in the sao one, the most sacred inner part of a Ngada house. We will participate in this ceremony. Please note that the homestay tonight is very basic and there is no electricity (only oil lamps). A small mattress, blanket, and pillow are provided for each guest (and MTS provides mosquito nets), but we ask you to bring a sleeping bag liner as your sheet. There is a shared basic toilet and traditional mandi (bucket) shower.
Day 6: Swim in the Sewu Sea and travel to Ruteng
Enjoy the peaceful early morning atmosphere of Belaragi and set out after breakfast for a 1-hour downhill walk to Paukete, where our driver awats us for our 4-hour return drive to Ruteng. En route we'll stop at a black-sand beach for a refreshing swim in the Sewu Sea, before reaching the coastal village of Aimere. Here we'll visit a local arak factory and see how this local alcohol is made. Next we'll continue to Ruteng—home to 57 churches—and overnight in the Santa Maria Convent.
Day 7: Visit the traditional villages of Ruteng Pu'u and Denge
After breakfast, we'll take a short visit to the traditional village of Ruteng Pu'u and hike to a local view point. Here we'll get a bird's-eye view of the unique lingko rice fields, with their unusual spiderweb structure particular to the Manggarai people. In the afternoon, we'll drive to Denge village, the starting point of our 2-day trekking and village experience, and check in at our local guesthouse.
Day 8: Trek to Waerebo village and stay the night
We'll start our trek early today (to avoid the heat), beginning with an uphill hike towards Post 2 at Pocoroko—a viewpoint with expansive views of the South and Savu Seas. We'll arrive in Waerebo before midday and spend the afternoon in the village, experiencing the local way of life, learning about ikat weaving, and interacting with the locals. Enjoy an overnight homestay in one of the traditional, conical houses! Please note that the homestay tonight is very basic and there is no electricity (only oil lamps). A small mattress, blanket, and pillow are provided for each guest (and MTS provides mosquito nets), but we ask you to bring a sleeping bag liner as your sheet. There is a shared basic toilet and traditional mandi (bucket) shower.
Day 9: Trek to Denge and relax in Labuan Bajo
Wake up early with the village and bid farewell before embarking on an easy 2-hour trek back to Denge, passing spiderweb rice fields, a beach at Dintor (with an option to swim if time permits), and the ancient village of Todo. We'll be picked up by our private transport at Denge and enjoy a 2-hour ride to the city of Labuan Bajo, stopping for lunch on the way. Check into our hotel with time to relax and enjoy sunset on the beach, overlooking the Labuan Bajo Harbor.
Day 10: Enjoy paradise in Labuan Bajo
Today is a free day where everyone can rest, relax by the pool, explore the coastal city, or spend some time on the tropical white-sand beach in front of the hotel.
Day 11: Sail to Rinca National Park
Today we'll board a private sailboat, which will be our home for the next two nights. The boat has a wonderful top deck for lounging, sunbathing, and enjoying unsurpassed views of the island chains! Enjoy a 1½-hour morning sail passes many beautiful and untouched islands before anchoring at the port of Rinca Island for lunch. Afterwards there will be time for snorkeling. In the early afternoon, we'll enter the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Komodo National Park on Rinca to get our first glimpse of Komodo dragons. We'll take a guided walk through the grasslands, looking for the infamous dragons in their natural habitat. At an impressive 10 feet long, these giant lizards hunt their prey by biting them once, and waiting for the infection to set in and cause death. After our exploration of the island, we'll sail to Pink Beach for snorkeling. We'll enjoy dinner and an overnight stay on board the boat.
Day 12: Search for dragons on Komodo Island
We'll visit the island of Komodo in the morning and take a walk to Banunggulung, passing an array of flora and fauna along the way. We'll search for Komodo dragons and look out for a great variety of bird life, including kingfishers, parrots, imperial pigeons, and more. We'll return to the boat and continue to Manta Point, where we might have the opportunity to snorkel with manta rays. Later, we'll continue to Gili Laba, where we can hike to the top of the island and observe sunset overlooking Komodo National Park. We'll drop anchor in a quiet bay for the night.
Day 13: Return to Labuan Bajo
Enjoy breakfast on board and a final opportunity for snorkeling before the boat heads back to Labuan Bajo, a 2½-hour ride away. Our private transport will meet us at the harbor for transfer to the hotel and tonight we'll have a festive farewell dinner.
Day 14: Fly back to Denpasar
This morning, we'll transfer to the airport in Labuan Bajo for our flight to Denpasar, Bali, and onwards.