Kelimutu is a volcano on the island of Flores. At 1,640 meters above sea level, the mountain forms the highest point on the island; its main attractions are the three colored crater lakes: Tiwu Ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People) is usually blue and is the westernmost of the three lakes. Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (Lake of Young Men and Women) is usually green, while Tiwu Ata Polo (Bewitched or Enchanted Lake) is reddish in color. The color of the lakes changes as a result of chemical reactions resulting from the minerals contained in the lake, possibly triggered by volcano gas activity.

Lake Kelimutu is part of the Kelimutu National Park, presenting a highly aesthetic value and surreal experience. The national park’s highest point is 5,679 feet at Mt Kelibara (1,731 meters), and 5,544 feet high (1,690 meters) at Mt Kelimutu. It is a national park that protects 19 endemic and endangered animals, among which, the Floresian punai (Treron floris), Wallacea owl (Otus silvicola), Floresian kancilan (Pachycephala nudigula), Floresian eagle (Spizeatus floris), and Timorese tesia (Tesia everetti).

kelimutu three color lake

Mount Kelimutu National Park is the smallest among six national parks in the stretch between Bali and the Nusa Tenggara islands. Its size obviously does not matter much when it offers one of the most spectacular wonders that nature has to offer. There are three lakes on the mountain sharing the same name, Kelimutu, meaning ‘the boiling lake’. Each has its own colors and a local name. But all are believed to be the resting place of departed souls. The area of ​​the three lakes is around 1,051,000 square meters with a water volume of 1,292 million cubic meters. The boundary between lakes is a narrow stone wall that is prone to landslides. This wall is very steep with a slope angle of 70 degrees. The height of the lake wall ranges from 50 to 150 meters.

The name Kelimutu can be roughly translated as the “Getting together mountains;” Keli means mountain, Mutu means get together. The locals believe that Kelimutu is under the reign of Konde Ratu, a supra-natural king, who rules over the spirits of the Dead.

The Lake or Tiwu Kelimutu is divided into three parts that correspond to the colors in the lake. The blue lake or “Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai” is a gathering place for the souls of young people who have died. The red lake or “Tiwu Ata Polo” is a gathering place for the souls of people who have died and as long as they lived, they always committed crimes. While the white lake or “Tiwu Ata Mbupu” is a gathering place for the souls of parents who have died. The lakes of the young and old lay side by side; a thin crater wall affected by wind, erosion and landslides separates the two. At the water surface fifty meters below, the wind has free reign, often causing small typhoons.
The color of the lakes has changed often in the last three decades. Strangely, this always happens in the middle of the night, nobody has ever seen it happen. In December 2008, the color of two of the three lakes changed. The water in Lake Tiwu Ata Polo turned from black to dark green, while Lake Tiwu Nua Muri Koo Fai turned greenish blue. In 2009 the color changed after only eight months. Last January, the colors changed again.

After intensive studies since 2007, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences’ (LIPI) Geo-technology Research Center concluded that the changes could mean an eruption was imminent. But local people have their own interpretation. According to them the color changes signify political and cultural changes in the region. The last January 2013 color change took place just three months before the East Nusa Tenggara governor election in March.

kelimutu three color lake flores tours asianexplore

Kelimutu as a Tourist Destination
In the past, Kelimutu was just a resting place for the dead. Presently, the region has developed into a major tourist destination on Flores and the other main port of call is the tiny island of Komodo; home of the komodo dragon.

In 1992 the Kelimutu region was established as a National Natural Conservation Region. The sanctuary covers more than 5,356.5 hectares of sloping hills and forest, with over 70 different species of flora and fauna. An example is the garugiwa (pachycephala nudigula); a slender black bird with a green and yellowish body.

What is around Kelimutu?

Kelimutu area is surrounded with forest containing floras that are scarcely found in Flores area. Other than pines, there are also casuarinas, red wood and edelweiss. Pine forest grows well in this side of Kelimutu Mountain. The other side of the mountain is dried land with highly unstable sand and soil. Local community believes that Kelimutu Mountain is sacred and donates fertility to the nature nearby.

Visitors can only walk around Lake Kelimutu but not all areas can be explored because some are dangerous and therefore restricted.  From Moni to Kelimutu, if you like to go trekking, there is a path which is shorter than the car access route.

Distance from Moni to the top is about 12 km. The distance to the parking lot by motor vehicle is 11 km, and then visitors will climb on foot through the pathway for 30 minutes.

How to get to Kelimutu Lake Flores?

Koanara village, in the Wolowaru sub-district is closest to Mt Kelimutu, and is about 66 km from the town of Ende, or 83 km from Maumere. Moni is the closest small town, lying at the foot of Mt Kelimutu. It is the gate to Lake Kelimutu. The distance between Moni and Kelimutu is 15 km.

You can take an ojek, a motorbike taxi, car or public transportation to take you to a parking lot before Kelimutu’s peak. Buses to Ende from Maumere will pass Moni. They call it BIS KAYU or oto kol, the wooden pick-up truck. From there, you must walk 30 minutes along the mountain side. There are daily flights from Denpasar and Kupang to Maumere and Ende. When you are in Labuan bajo while on Komodo Tour, there is also daily flight from Labuan Bajo to Ende. Mostly the visitor includes visiting Kelimutu together with other spot in Flores such as Wae Rebo and Bena Village etc, please refer to our Flores Komodo Tours.

kelimutu lake flores

Here are The 7 interesting things that you will find when visiting Lake Kelimutu Lake Flores:

  1. A steep cliff and a guardian monkey

When you arrive at Lake Kelimutu, you will be presented with views of cliffs from steep rocks. You will also be surprised by the figure of the cliff guard. A mob of brown-haired guard monkeys suddenly appeared from tree branches on the edge of the cliff. You do not need to linger over steep cliffs because it can jeopardize safety.

  1. The beauty of Lake “Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai” and “Tiwu Ata Polo”

After you walk-up through few stairs of stones, you can see two of the three lakes in the Kelimutu region. The two lakes are “Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai” and “Tiwu Ata Polo”, the lake on the right when the body position is facing the lake. This lake is deep black. While the lake on the left and the tosca green is Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai. These two lakes are located side by side, only separated by a cliff as the dividing wall. The separating rock cliffs are basin shaped. As far as the eye can see, around the lake there are only cliffs of rocks.

  1. “Tiwu Ata Mbupu”, the center of the gathering of spirits

One of the objects at the top of Kelimutu is “Tiwu Ata Mbupu”. The clear tosca green lake is located separately from the others. This lake is the lake of the gathering of the spirits of parents who have died. The determination of the category is said to be seen from the way of life during his lifetime. If people die old and often do good during their lives, they will enter the lake “Tiwu Ata Mbupu”. If people die young or unmarried and often do good during their lives, they will enter the lake “Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai”. Whereas if a person dies either young or old but often reproaches, then they will gather at the lake “Tiwu Ata Polo”.

  1. Tired Release Monument

The journey to the top of Kelimutu is very tiring. In addition to the fairly steep path, the air on the way to the peak is getting thinner because of its height. To unwind you can rest for a moment in the peak monument of Kelimutu. You could say after seeing the third lake, the monument surrounded by several steps is the next destination. Besides being able to sit and chat on the steps, capture photos, you can enjoy a cup of warm coffee, a perfect dish from the nature.

  1. Myth of Color Changes in Lake Kelimutu

Lake Kelimutu is also known as a three-color lake. In addition, because each lake has a different color, but also the three lakes can change color at any time. Some experts say that this happens because of the composition of the material at the bottom of the lake. But there are those who say that the change in color follows the political atmosphere of our country. It is said that if the Indonesian state was peaceful and serene then the color of the lake would be blue. If the political atmosphere is volatile or heats up the color of the lake will turn red.

6. The Stunning View of Sunrise over the Lakes

when you are managed to reach the peak before sunrise, wait for the beautiful moment of the sun’s appearance. The visitors mostly waiting this moment and capture this moment endlessly. At that time the sun emerged from between the lined hills.

sunrise Kelimutu 3 color lake


7. “Pati Ka”, Festival of Feeding Ancestors

Exactly August 14th. every year the Kelimutu Lake Festival is held. In accordance with local beliefs the main agenda of the festival was “pati ka”. In the local language “pati ka” means to feed. Feeding is intended for the ancestors of Lake Kelimutu in the form of offerings consisting of pork or in the local language called “wawi” and moke or alcoholic drinks typical of the local area.

How to plan a Trip to Kelimutu Lake Flores

if you’re thinking about how to plan trip to Kelimutu Lake Flores Island, that means you have planned a trip to Indonesia! That’s double-awesome because there’s definitely a ton of things to do and see along the way. So, you need to get to Indonesia and then get to Flores Island, mostly the visitors get to Kelimutu, Flores Island from Bali as it is easy to get to Flores island from Bali.

Once you get to Bali (Denpasar), we recommend you to have one day or two days rest of jet lack, or it is also recommended to have more days to enjoy and explore Bali Island before leaving for Kelimutu lake on Flores Island. Definitely do that and make sure you check to see when and how much the flights are from Bali to the airport closest to Kelimutu Lake; ENDE.

You can take morning Flight from Bali to Ende and stay in Moni, the gateway village to Kelimutu Lake. Visit Kelimutu, the 3 color lakes, in the early morning (around 4:30 am), drive to the starting point for the ascent to the Kelimutu. After an approximately 30 minutes walk, you reach the lookout point at Kelimutu at an altitude of 1.600m. From there you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the three different colored crater lakes. Local myths are entwined around the beautifully landscaped waters. Then descent and return to your hotel in Moni for Breakfast. Continue your trip to the Airport of Ende or continue to Explore Flores and Komodo Island.