One of the most interesting cultural places to visit on Flores is Bena, a traditional Ngada village. Time seems to have stood still here, and the way of life is almost unchanged for centuries.
Set amidst Flores’ lush jungles and smoking volcanoes, Bena is said to have been founded some 1,000 years ago by Javanese sailors, whose ship stranded on the south coast of Flores. Houses with high, thatched roofs line up in two rows on a ridge. They’re interspersed with ancestral totems including megalithic tombs, ngadhu, (thatched parasol-like structures) and bhaga (miniature thatched-roof houses). Most houses have male or female figurines on their roofs, while doorways are decorated with buffalo horns and jawbones – a sign of family prosperity.
Women still weave their traditional Ikats on the wooden porches of the thatched houses, using traditional looms. Megalithic altars stand in the middle of the village, reverberating with a thousand years of chants and screams of sacrificial buffaloes.