Duniart – Photography and Blog by Toine IJsseldijk

Kelimutu – Flores

July 2016

The mystical mount Kelimutu, meaning “steaming mountain”, is a spectacular volcano on the Indonesian island Flores and one of its most amazing natural phenomenon. The volcano contains three striking summit crater lakes, which have often changed colors. Scientific explanations aside, there are many myths about the origin of Kelimutu. This is one of the reasons why Mount Kelimutu is still a sacred place for the local people. Over the years, the three crater lakes have often changed color, most likely due to the varying mineral contents of the water, caused by active upwelling from subaqueous fumaroles at the two eastern lakes. A more local explanation suggests that the changing colors are caused by the neglected ancestral souls.
As I studied their behavior around the trees and started to observe often clearly defined flying routes and approaches of the flowers I decided to try to photograph them. With a bit of testing and continuously trying different settings and lighting angles it turned out not to be  too hard from a technical side.
But you do need patience, and lots of it…
We have plenty of banana trees, often on fairly steep slopes and surrounded by coffee and other fruit trees. To get enough space, a good angle, position for the flashes and potentially nice composition took night after night after night of trial and error… Long nights, with lots of sore hands from holding the camera remote trigger, finger on the shutter release button, hours and hours, night in, night out!
Eventually patience and perseverance pays off!
Click any photo for full screen view and to scroll through the Gallery.

The Kelimutu crater lakes are only a small part of the Kelimutu National Park. This fascinating area belongs to the worldwide protected areas and is internationally recognized by the United Nations Environment Program.
The best time to enjoy Kelimutu is in the early morning when the clouds haven’t yet covered the view and many visitors come to see the sunrise. The most popular and convenient starting point to visit Kelimutu is from Moni, a village close to the trans-Flores ‘highway’. There is now a paved road to a parking lot where you can enjoy a 30-minute walk through a lush forest full of birdsong, before entering the lake area.
  • Spend 2 nights in Moni and take more time to enjoy the beauty of the Kelimutu National Park by hiking down from the lakes all the way to Moni, passing through excellent bird-rich forest and 2 very traditional villages, one of them only reachable on foot. It’s a 5-6 hours hike, mostly going down.
How to go there:
from Maumere to Moni is about 62 km and takes around 4 hours, from Ende to Moni 51 km and takes around 1.5hours. From Bajawa to Moni takes around 5 hours.
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