This post was last updated on July 7th, 2020 at 11:06 am
Bajawa is a town on Flores that is best known for the traditional villages that can be found there. But there is so much more. You can even camp in a unique location in the mountains. From your tent, you have a view of mountains that are covered with tropical rainforest. In addition, there are several hot springs where you can relax. You also have the chance to challenge yourself physically and mentally by climbing Mount Inerie at night. And did you know that – in our opinion – the best coffee in Flores grows in the hills of this region?
All in all, Bajawa is one of the more beautiful destinations on Flores to us, perhaps even the most beautiful. It is also nice that it is relatively cool given its high location.
In this article, we will show you what we have experienced and we will give you useful tips. Hopefully, you’ll be as enthusiastic as we are.
Camping Under a Starry Sky
Do you know that feeling of wanting to withdraw into nature? We were completely fed up with the sound of traffic, and when we arrived in Bajawa we immediately knew one thing: we didn’t want to stay in the busy center. So we looked for alternatives.
Soon we caught sight of Manulalu, a scenic spot hidden in the mountains, about half an hour’s drive from Bajawa center. And the cool thing is: they offer camping spots. There are tents with roofs of dried leaves, a kind of hut actually. Including electricity. We needed an adventure like this.
We jumped on the back of a motorbike and a local took us to this beautiful place where we slept in a tent for a total of 4 nights. There is so much peace and tranquility here. From your tent, you have a view of green covered mountains and in the evening you will be treated to a clear sky with countless stars. If you are lucky you can even see the galaxy. The next morning you wake up with the rising sun in front of you. You can even take a shower in the open air. Is there any better way to start your day?
If you are looking for more comfort, they also offer nice houses to spend the night. But for the adventure, we recommend sleeping in tents. Fortunately, they have a restaurant, Heaven’s Door, so you can find some tasty food nearby.
For us, camping in nature was one of the peak experiences we’ve had on Flores. Unique in every way. The location is also super since you can easily visit the places that we describe further on.
Relax in the Malanage Hot Springs
Hot springs, we’ve visited quite a few on our travels. Sometimes they’re disappointing and sometimes they’re excellent. The latter is the case for the Malanage Hot Springs in Bajawa. The hot springs you will find here are surrounded by nature and are a wonderful spot to relax and slowly soak yourself.
The nice thing about this hot spring is that there is both a cold and (very) warm side. When you have gotten very hot, you can cool down in the colder part, which is ideal. And it gets warm anyway, because the closer you sit to the current, the higher the temperature. At some point, it is simply too hot to last longer.
We did not see any tourists there, only some local children who were playing there. And of course, they stared at us the whole time, although we were used to that now. Or they would strike a pose and ask us if we wanted to take a picture.
Other hot springs in Bajawa are the Mangeruda Hot Springs, although we think they are a bit less interesting. They are also referred to as the “STI Hot Springs”.
The Traditional Village of Bena
We said it before, Bajawa is best known for the numerous traditional villages in the region. The most famous of these is Bena, lying at the foot of Mount Inerie. We hopped on the scooter, and via a short but refreshing ride through the bamboo forests we arrived at the entrance.
Despite its great fame, however, we turned out to be the only tourists who visited this picturesque spot around noon. Contrary to expectations, we have never had an unauthentic feeling during our visit. Although people are visibly used to foreigners.
The traditional houses with their thatched roofs make an impression. It is nice to see how people live their lives here. There are also structures in the shape of an umbrella that represent male ancestors. Other monuments are more like small houses and symbolize the female ancestors.
What stands out besides the traditional houses and monuments are the many women who weave colorful sarongs (“tenun ikat”). One of those women invited us to sit on the porch with her, and in poor Indonesian, we were able to communicate with her a little. She gave us some bananas as a gift, and we were happy with that since we were quite hungry. We even got the offer to take the whole bunch with us, but this went a bit too far.
Before you walk into Bena, we recommend drinking a strong Vietnamese drip at Moku Dia. This is a small business with surprisingly tasty Arabica coffee.
If you want to visit even more traditional villages, take a look at Tololela. Or at one of the many other places in the region. Check the Maps.me app or ask a local for the best spots.
An Adventure on Inerie Volcano
The biggest challenge in Bajawa is undoubtedly the hike to the 2,245-meter high summit of Gunung Inerie, the local volcano you see towering above everything and everyone from Heaven’s Door near Manulalu. If you take it easy, you can walk to the highest point in about 3 hours. You then stand above the clouds and see the sun slowly rising. The view is phenomenal. Travel companions we’ve met before had gone the night before and left our mouths open in surprise:
They spoke of the best volcano they had ever climbed, and they already had many experiences.
We can tell you that the walk up is quite difficult. The path is often sandy and slippery and you have to deal with quite steep sections. In any case, going without a guide is not recommended, we speak from experience. And if you do this, at least go with someone else.
We went on our own during the day and ended up getting stuck on a section that was too dangerous to continue. Some sections are made of loose stones mixed with sand, the slope is very steep and there are hardly any points to hold on to. Nevertheless, we made an attempt, although it turned out to be unsuccessful. That’s when we didn’t want to risk more and went back. Afterward, it became clear that we went the wrong way. This was what two guides told us when we showed them the photo of the part where we couldn’t go any further.
Still, despite the forced-choice to turn around, being alone on this mountain made us feel overwhelmed. You really hear nothing, besides a few chirping birds. It is a real adventure and it feels somewhat magical when you are alone on that volcano.
Our Tip – if you are looking for a good (and cool) guide, contact Ignasius via Whatsapp. His number is +6281236631278. He can also take you from the center of Bajawa to Manulalu.
A Strenuous Search For Ena Bhara Beach
We heard that there is a beautiful beach about an hour south of Bajawa. The way there is alternately good and bad. Some parts are little more than a sandbox, while a little later you drive on fairly good asphalt. In the beginning, you will pass through a beautiful environment with lots of greenery and long bamboo trees on both sides of the road. You will also pass all kinds of villages with locals who greet and cheer you enthusiastically. Most often you will hear “Hey miss”, whether you are male or female 😉
The search for Ena Bhara Beach proved to be a strenuous one. Some people have never heard of it before, while someone else sent us completely in the wrong direction.
Another name for this bay is “Pasir Putih”, which means “white sand”. When we finally arrived at the beach after several directions, we didn’t think it was that special. The name “white sand” naturally creates expectations, but it was not that white in reality (although it seems pretty white in the bright photo below). Because the water came up pretty far, we could take a refreshing dip. The beaches around Maumere are more impressive in our opinion.
The Spectacular Sunset From Wolobobo Hill
A local tipped us to go to Wolobobo Hill to watch the sunset there. From Manulalu it was still quite an adventurous ride. The road has dozens of bends, making speeding downright dangerous. But trust us, once you get to the top you won’t be disappointed.
As we walked from the parking lot to the view deck, we saw a sea of clouds in front of us. We didn’t expect to be that high. Amazing! Besides the clouds, you can see a tropical rainforest, the lights of Bajawa, Mount Inerie, Mount Ebulobo, and the remarkably shaped Batu Jaramasih.
And when the sun slowly drops, an intense color mix is created, making it all even more spectacular.
Take a vest with you, because when night falls it gets cold. Riding in short sleeves is a bit of hell, we experienced it ourselves.
You can also visit Wolobobo Hill during the sunrise.
Continue Your Journey to Ruteng or Moni
If you are traveling east, Moni is recommended for a few days. In Moni, you can find the beautiful crater lakes of Kelimutu to visit. If you go the other way, we recommend going to Ruteng. You will find beautiful rice terraces and a beautiful waterfall. If you want to visit an even better beach you can visit Koka Beach.