The Kelimutu National Park and its trio of multicolored crater lakes has to be one of the coolest sights on the island of Flores, Indonesia.
These are three volcanic lakes that are known to regularly change colors (to blue, green, pink, or brown!) because of changes in the underlying gases and elements. The Kelimutu lake colors change up to 6 times per year.
To top it off, the triple lakes of Mount Kelimutu are pretty easy to visit from other parts of Indonesia (especially Bali), and it’s a budget friendly journey as well.
This travel guide will explain how to get to Kelimutu, the entrance fees, best time to visit, and everything else you need to know before you go!
Visiting Kelimutu National Park
• Sunrise At Kelimutu
Most tours of Kelimutu National Park have a very early start (4 AM) for seeing the sunrise over the lakes, but it’s really not a requirement.
We decided to skip the sunrise and come up shortly after dawn. We’ve seen so many spectacular sunrises in our travels, and this one just didn’t look that special.
With that said, the best time to see the lakes is definitely in the early morning. The colors are brightest shortly after dawn when the sun is shining on them and the clouds haven’t creeped in yet.
In any case, try to get there before 7-8 AM at the latest, and bring a jacket because it may be chilly!
• The Twin Lakes
The twin lakes of Mount Kelimutu are truly awesome.
When we visited, the lakes were both turquoise colored, but they can change to be many different colors.
You can view them from the main balcony with safety railings, or if you’re feeling bold there’s an unsecured dirt path where you can walk up to the edge of the crater and stand between the two lakes.
Watch out for monkeys! They’ll try to steal anything you leave unattended.
There’s a local legend around the Kelimutu lakes that says they’re the resting place for departed souls.
This is how the eastern lake got its name Tiwu Ata Polo (Bewitched or Enchanted Lake) since it’s where evil people are allegedly sent, while the other lake is called Tiwu Ko’o Fai Nuwa Muri (Lake of Young Souls).
The western twin lake is usually blue or green, while the eastern lake can change to all sorts of bizarre looking colors like red, green, brown, or black.
• The Third Lake
If you keep following the path and walk up the stairs to Inspiration Point, there’s a third Kelimutu lake hiding in its own separate crater.
This one is called Tiwu Ata Bupu (Lake of Old Souls) and locals believe it’s where old people go after death.
The lake is dark green or dark blue, and the color doesn’t seem to change much, unlike the twin lakes.
Can You Swim In Kelimutu Crater Lakes?
This is a common question, but no, you can’t swim in the Kelimutu crater lakes.
Even though the lakes are beautiful, they’re also dangerous due to the steep cliffs and toxic sulfuric water. So don’t think about swimming in the Kelimutu crater lakes, even if you could somehow find a way to get down there safely.
A Dutch tourist sadly fell into one of the Kelimutu lakes and died in 1995, and their body was never recovered after almost a week of searching. Be careful if you go near the edge of the lakes, because there are some loose rocks.
- Foreigners (Mon-Sat): 150k IDR ($10 USD)
- Foreigners (Sun): 225k IDR ($15)
- Locals: 5k IDR
- Parking: 5k IDR
*As of 2020, KITAS/KITAP holders no longer get a discount at Kelimutu lake. We pay the same price as other foreign tourists.
I don’t mind paying more than the locals, but 30 times as much is a bit lame. They could at least make the entrance ticket last for 2 or 3 days.
How To Get To Kelimutu
A few steps are needed to get to Kelimutu since it doesn’t have its own dedicated airport.
The full process is explained below. It may sound complicated at first, but rest assured it’s actually pretty easy to get to the lakes!
Step #1. Flight To Ende Or Maumere
The closest airports to Kelimutu are Ende (ENE) or Maumere (MOF). You can shop for flights to these airports at Skyscanner.
Both places have regular non-stop flights from Bali and Labuan Bajo that only take about 1 hour and cost 750k IDR ($50 USD) or less.
Step #2. Drive To Moni
When you arrive at the airport in Ende or Maumere the next step is driving to Moni, the small town at the foot of Kelimutu.
- If you do the drive from Ende to Kelimutu it takes about 2 hours, and you can go with a private driver (400k IDR per vehicle), shared van (50k per person), or bus/bemo (30k per person).
- If you do the drive from Maumere to Kelimutu it’s a bit longer at 3 hours, but you have the same transportation options available as Ende. A private driver from Maumere will cost 600k per vehicle, or a shared ride in a van/bus/bemo will cost about 50-100k per person.
In either case, the airports of Ende and Maumere are swarming with taxis who will gladly take you to Moni and Kelimutu in their private car, or else direct you to a shared vehicle with other travelers.
Step #3. Drive To Kelimutu National Park
Once you arrive in Moni, you’re now at the foot of Mount Kelimutu, and the peak of the crater rim is almost visible from town!
You’ll need transportation to get up the mountain to the parking area for Kelimutu lake. This drive takes about 30 minutes (depending on where you stay in Moni) and the road is fairly steep at times, but well paved all the way to the top.
We rented a scooter from our hotel for 100k IDR ($7) per day and this worked well. You can also hire a scooter + driver for a bit more (200k roundtrip), or join a shared vehicle with other travelers for 300k (per vehicle), and split the cost between all of you.
Most people opt to stay the night in Moni and visit Kelimutu the next morning, but that’s not a requirement. The Kelimutu lakes are nice at any time of the day.
Step #4. Trek To The Kelimutu Lakes
Once you reach the parking area at Kelimutu, there’s a short and easy trek to the lakes.
The path is good for all ages and it only takes 15-30 minutes depending on your pace and fitness level. Voilà, you’ve reached the lakes of Mount Kelimutu!
After you finish exploring the national park, some people like to trek back to Moni rather than driving. The walk back takes about 2-3 hours and goes through scenic hills with rice terraces and waterfalls.
Where To Stay In Moni
Moni is a shabby little town with very basic accommodation, but the choices are starting to improve.
Here are some of our top picks:
- Family Guest House Moni – Central location with free breakfast included – 290k IDR ($19 USD)
- Mahoni Guest House – Located in town with free breakfast included – 260k IDR ($18 USD)
- Santiago Bed & Breakfast – Deluxe room with free breakfast included – 375k IDR ($25 USD)
- Mahakali – Budget twin room (sleeps 3) with free breakfast – 260k IDR ($18)
- Joseph Guest House – Nice secluded riverside location with free breakfast – 230k IDR ($15)
- The Geckos Homestay – Deluxe bungalow with breakfast included – 500k IDR ($34)
- Farila Kelimutu Lodge – Hillside balcony rooms with a view – 225k IDR ($15)
These prices may fluctuate from time to time, so just keep an eye out for a good deal. Hotels in Moni can fill up fast though, so it’s a good idea to book something in advance.
- ATM: The town of Moni has an ATM from BRI now and it should work with foreign cards.
- Credit Cards: Most restaurants, hotels, and other things in Moni are cash only. The Kelimutu entrance fee is also cash only.
- WiFi: Moni hotels don’t have WiFi. The best solution is a local SIM card, but don’t expect those to work perfectly.
- Cell Service: Telkomsel has 3G/4G reception at Moni and Kelimutu lake, but it drops out on rainy or windy days when there are power outages.
- Restaurants: We ate at Mopi’s Place and Moon Cafe. Great food at reasonable prices.
- More Things To Do: Check out Murundao Waterfall and Muru Keba Waterfall, both located right in Moni!
Best Time To Visit
The lakes of Mount Kelimutu are spectacular year round, but the best month to visit is probably sometime in the dry season (April to November), when Flores is clear and sunny.
With that said, we’ve also been to Kelimutu on cloudy days and you can still see the lakes. They just won’t be quite as bright.
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