The traditional village of Wae Rebo in the district of Manggarai on the island of Flores, East Nusatenggara, has received the Top Award of Excellence from UNESCO in the 2012 UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards, announced in Bangkok on 27 August 2012.
This small and isolated village was recognized for its rebuilding of the traditional Mbaru Niang traditional house based on the spirit of community cooperation towards a sustainable tradition, while at the same time improving its village welfare.
Wae Rebo is a small, very out of the way village. Situated on around 1,100 meters above sea level and approximately 3 – 4 hour travel by foot from Denge Village. Wae Rebo is completely surrounded by panoramic mountains and the dense Todo forest. This tropical forest is rich in vegetation, where you will find orchids, different types of ferns and hear the chirping of many songbirds. There is also no mobile coverage in this village, and the electricity is only available from 6 to 10 pm. The air is relatively cold, especially in the dry season, so don’t forget to bring your jacket if you’re planning to visit the village.
Founder of the village and, therefore, their main ancestor who built the village some 100 years ago, was a man called Empu Maro. Today, the inhabitants are his 18th generation descendants.
Wae Rebo’s main characteristics are their unique houses, which they call Mbaru Niang that are tall and conical in shape and are completely covered in lontar thatch from its rooftop down to the ground. It appears that at one time such kind of houses were quite common to the region. But today, it is only this village that continues to maintain the typical Manggarai traditional house, without which these unique houses would have been completely fazed out.
The house has five levels, each level designated for a specific purpose. The first level , called lutur or tent, are the living quarters of the extended family. The second level, called lobo, or attic, is set aside to store food and goods, the third level called lentar is to store seeds for the next harvest, the fourth level called lempa rae is reserved for food stocks in case of draught, and the fifth and top level, called hekang kode, which is held most sacred, is to place offerings for the ancestors.
One special ceremonial house is the community building where members of the entire clan gather for ceremonies and rituals. They are predominantly Catholic but still adhere to old beliefs. In this house are stored the sacred heirloom of drums and gongs.
With a small population of around 1,200 inhabitants only, the village comprises 7 houses. The staple diet of villagers is cassava and maize, but around the village they plant coffee, vanilla, and cinnamon which they sell in the market, located some 15 km. away from the village. Lately, however, Wae Rebo has grown in popularity as a tourist destination for international ecotourism enthusiasts, and this has added to the economic welfare of the village. The people of Wae Rebo warmly welcome visitors who wish to see their village and experience their simple traditional life.
Komodo National Park
Flores is one the most fascinating and beautiful island, located in the southern part of Indonesia in East Nusa Tenggara province.
Geographically, Flores is part of Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands. From west to east the main Lesser Sunda Islands are Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Sumba, Timor, Alor archipelago, Barat Daya Islands and Tanimbar Islands.
Long hidden in the shadows of its more famous neighbor Bali, the island of Flores is finally emerging as a unique destination of its own.
So, after visiting the lair of the Komodo dragons, take time to marvel at some of the wonders of Flores. Here, you can swim in pristine lakes and waterfalls, dive at one of the 50 spectacular dive sites, go kayaking among craggy coasts and mangrove shores, explore mysterious caves and be warmly welcomed by the island’s people in their rituals, dances and daily life.
Flores spell adventure, diving, eco-tours, and mountain climbing interspersed with visits to prehistoric heritage sites, traditional villages and cultural events. Find some of the world’s most exotic underwater life, dive in the pristine seas of Komodo, or swim along with huge manta rays, dolphins, and dugongs on the island of Flores!
One of several histories of the name “Flores” was said to come from Tanjung Bunga, a sub-district in East Flores. In the 1500s a Portuguese navigator António de Abreu reach this place and saw blooming flowers all over the island.
Then came S.M Cabot who described this place as Cabo das Flores, translated as the cape of flowers.
In 1636 Hendrik Brouwer, the Dutch Indies Governor General validated Flores as the official name for the Island.
Flores also was known as Nusa Nipa, or the Snake Island. The name was said to depict due to the shape of the island, the fact that Flores is a habitat for snakes and the ancient belief that the snake was the ancestor of the island.
You can come by to the Blikon Blewut Museum in Maumere, and learn a glimpse of Florinese history.
There are 8 major ethnic groups in Flores, namely the Manggarai, Riung, Ngada, Nage-Keo, Ende, Lio, Sikka and Larantuka.
There are also 8 regencies in Flores: West Manggarai, Manggarai, East Manggarai, Ngada, Nagekeo, Ende, Sikka and East Flores.
Labuan Bajo is the capital of West Manggarai, the gateway to many splendors of Flores.
You can watch Caci dance in Manggarai, a live war dance performed in numerous traditional ceremonies. The dance is also popular as a warm greeting to welcome important guests.
In East Manggarai, you can visit Rana Tonjong, a vast lake covered with giant lotus flowers that bloom from April to June. If you love beaches, don’t forget to sunbathe at Laing Lewe! In Ngada, you can come by and explore Taman Laut 17 Pulau. Translates as The17 Islands Ocean Park, it was also named in accordance to Indonesia’s anniversary date on the 17th. Here, you can discover exotic wildlife on land and beneath the ocean’s waters.
Nagakeo is famous for Pulau Pasir Putih Rii Taa, a pristine pearly white-pinkish sandy island located just around an hour boat ride from the Marapokot harbor in Mbay city.
The renowned three colored Lake Kelimutu is located in Ende. An amazing natural wonders that you definitely must experience yourself. While in Ende, you can also visit the unique Pengganjawa beach. With black sand and plenty of stones in turquoise hues scattered on its shore, a sight that you don’t see often!
Maumere is the capital of Sikka. Besides the museum and beaches, you can head to Tanjung Kajuwulu and Nilo hill, to enjoy the soothing view unfolding beneath you.
Last but certainly not least is Larantuka, the capital of East Flores. The city is famous for its Easter celebration named Semana Santa. A festive march carried off the day of Good
Friday, across the heart of Larantuka.
Every November, the Manggarai ethnic group in East Nusa Tenggara Province will conduct the sacred rituals of Penti which takes place at the Wae Rebo Traditional Village on Flores Island. As this is a unique occasion, make sure to witness the event.
Penti is a ritual of thanksgiving to celebrate the past year’s harvest and prayers for a prosperous, new agricultural year. The event is filled with a series of ancient rituals that usually last for one full day and night. The celebration is of such huge communal importance that all village members -even those living outside the village-will join the rituals.
Penti is an annual ritual closely related to the agricultural cycle. The tradition has been passed down through generations from the ancestors of the village, that identifies different months according to variations of location of surrounding natural environments. Penti also marks the turn of the year for the Wae Rebo villagers which occurs in November following the modern calendar. Although nowadays many villages on the island celebrate Penti based on a five-year cycle due to the intensive preparations and high costs involved, in the village of Wae Rebo, however, Penti is still conducted on a yearly basis.
Penti begins with the Barong Wae and Barong Oka rituals in which the people carrying offerings proceed to the courtyard of the Rumah Gendang or the Main House in the village, accompanied by the sounds of gongs and gendang traditional percussions. They gather at the natural spring and invite the spirit of the spring’s keeper to attend the Penti celebration.
The processions will then move to the watu pantas to symbolize the purification of sins, which is followed by a visit to the stone altar or compang, which concludes the Barong Wae, Barong Oka, and Roi Boa rituals.
Penti will also be highlighted with the fascinating display of Caci, which is the traditional martial art specific to the Manggarai region, in which two men will be involved in a one-on- one combat using whips and simple shields.
During the series of the Penti Ritual, a group of men and women will chant traditional songs with no musical accompaniment which is called Sanda. The Sanda commences in the middle of the night and continues nonstop until morning. The Sanda must be chanted uninterruptedly during the entire rituals to honor the spirits of the ancestors.
On the westernmost tip of the Island of Flores sits the town of Labuan Bajo. It lies peacefully, with many wonders waiting for you to explore. Labuan Bajo was only a small fishing site, but flourished to become the gateway to many exotic destinations in East Nusa Tenggara.
The Port to Paradise
The extraordinary interest among travelers lies in Komodo Dragons or locally called ora. It is a valuable alluring factor, showcased in its superb national park.
The Komodo National Park was listed as UNESCO’s World Heritage Site in 1991. Both on land and underwater, it is home to fascinating wildlife. The park consists of Komodo Island, Rinca Island, Padar Island, and numerous smaller islands around.
Labuan Bajo is known as the city of sunset. You can find plenty of out-of-this-world scenic views of the spectacular sky.
There are some interesting destinations that you can discover inside the city. The Mirror Cave is located only 4 kilometers away from Labuan Bajo. It is said that Dutch archaeologist, Theodor Verhoeven,, who believed Labuan Bajo was once located underwater, founded this cave in 1951. The local name for the cave is Goa Batu Cermin. You can see the reflective stones shine at you in some parts, hence, the name “Goa Batu Cermin.” It translates to “stone mirror cave.”
Have you ever swam in a cave-lake before? Here’s a chance to try it in Rangko Cave. Nestled in Ranko Village, this natural wonder presents its blue water and sunlight shining directly towards its cave lake. Their stalagmites will surely amaze you as well.
You can also explore the paths to Cunca Rami and Cunca Wulang canyon waterfall!
Bukit Cinta, Puncak Amelia, and Puncak Silvia are all vantage points, not far away from Komodo Airport in Labuan Bajo. You can enjoy some spectacular views of the island and the open sea at sunset.
You can head to Kampung Ujung and experience the delicious local food center in Labuan Bajo for the culinary feast.
Feel the romance with its stunning landscapes. Wooden cottages with thatched roofs are camouflaged by shrubberies and towering trees up in the sloping township. They overlook an idyllic harbor, creating perfect elements of an unforgettable experience.
Labuan Bajo can be that ideal getaway with choices of land and sea to explore for some adventurers. Try the liveaboard experience, where you get to live onboard the spectacular phinisi boats for several days, visit gorgeous islands and dive into the stunning wonders of the sea.
One of the most famous islands to visit during your liveaboard trip is Padar Island. With its outstanding panorama, Padar Island is swiftly becoming a new favorite place for travelers. It showcases rolling hills and rugged volcanic mountains. With its grassland and trees covering its terrace, Padar Island boasts its striking savanna hill.