Flores fun – part 5: water, water everywhere

Later on in the afternoon (after we visited the waterfall), three of us went for a drive around the edge of the lake. It was a great sightseeing trip, although the roads were pretty rough. And by rough I mean the rockiest, skinniest, most unsafe donkey trails you can imagine. Around the far side of the lake, we stopped to visit a little rock island accessible only by hiking down a steep hill and across a VERY sketchy “bridge” made of rotting bamboo. I almost didn’t make it. But once across, we could see the beautiful green of the lake, as well as our own campground on the other side of the water.

Next we stopped at “coconut village” (comprising two houses and some coconut trees) to have a fresh coconut drink. It wasn’t much to write home about. I’ve had fresher coconuts. But it was a neat little stop and I was happy to support the family business. LittleB was most keen on the litter of puppies they had out back, and couldn’t care less about the guy climbing 20 m up a tree to get us a snack.

Our last stop of the trip was at the local hot springs. If you can call them that. Having seen our share of amazing geysers and thermal pools before, this pathetic trickle of water falling into a pool of garbage was pretty underwhelming. But at least we enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the beach. And it was nice to see that the locals were well sustained by this little bit of geothermal magic, using it for the cooking and cleaning ease that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

For our final day in Flores, we packed up and took off to see another waterfall on the way back to town. These falls were a bit of a further hike and more secluded, but they promised nicer views and privacy.

The drive took us down some narrow cliffs and into a dry, sunny valley. We stopped to register at the park desk and pick up a little old man guide, then we parked our truck at the top of a forested hill. With swimsuits and lunch in tow, we headed down towards the valley floor.

The walk was steep in places, and very rough on J. She spent most of it crying and balking at the big steps. It took major persuading and negotiating to get her down the whole way. Also, our (barefoot) guide managed to cut his foot and was leaving a blood trail the whole way along the path. Needless to say, it was not a peaceful, one-with-nature kind of trek, and we were aching for a beer and some rest by the time we emerged at the base of the falls.

The falls were cut into a huge rockface, carving their way out of a cavern and along a cliffside. The only way to see the falls was to swim about 50 meters along the trench and squeeze through a small opening into the cavern.

The water was cool and pleasant, and there were ledges along the way where we could easily rest our tired kids. Soon we made it to the cave opening. Two adults went first, to make sure it was safe for the rest of us. We had to pass through a small opening guarded by a bunch of spiders, but it was worth it. The space seemed to have been carved over thousands of years and thousands of liters of water, swirling away a small domed cavern in the rock. The water was thunderous and strong, but the bottom was shallow enough to stand in places.

 

After our swim, the sky was starting to darken, so we hurried up to the truck. Thankfully J had a much easier time going up than down, and we were quick to make it back to the top. Unfortunately, the rain was close behind us, and we made it into the cab just as the clouds opened up. It poured so hard that the dirt road back to the park entrance turned into a river, and the truck was fishtailing the whole way up. I was pretty sure we were going to fly off the cliff edge on the side of the road, but we made it. We stopped for a few minutes at the park building to decide what to do, and to mourn for all of our things getting totally soaked in the back of the pickup truck. We decided to skip the planned final stop at another viewpoint/village, and return to the big city where we had booked a hotel for the night.

We made it there in time for a last beautiful sunset as the rain cleared, with enough time for warm showers, a chance to hang all our clothes around the room to dry, and to enjoy a few evening beers before bed and back to Jakarta in the morning.

Thanks for the visit and memories!

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