Flores Travels: The Top Best Things To Do In Manggarai

  1. Lingko’s Spider Web Rice Fields

Flores in Nusa Tenggara Timur is home to beautiful and unique places to explore including mountains, beaches, lakes and culture. Here in Manggarai, you mustn’t miss the chance to view the Spiderweb Rice Fields in Lingko Lodok, Meler Village which is in the district of Ruteng in Manggarai.

These unique spiderweb shaped rice fields are unique to Lingko Lodok and in addition to being aesthetically pretty, it is also fully-functional, as it is a great way for the people to split the land evenly and ensure that everyone gets the same size plots. This unique shape has everything to do with the Manggaraian people’s culture and tradition. In the past, they were used to grow dry rice, corn and tubers. Rituals are actually held in the centre of each Lingko during planting and harvesting seasons. Each time a new Lingko is opened, a water buffalo will be sacrificed and a ceremony will be held. Different parts of the fields will then be distributed to different families within the community.

Today, the Lingko Rice Fields are used for wet rice cultivation. With this, rituals and ceremonies based on the ancient agricultural calendar used for growing dry rice have also faded. However, the Lingko Rice Fields still remains one of the must-see places to visit while you’re in Manggarai. *Photo by Flores Tourism

  1. The Hobbit of Liang Bua

Many have likened Flores to the world’s real-life Jurassic Park; a land full of secrets, mystery and wonder, where rugged terrains lay wildly untouched, dense jungles shelter mystifying creatures that still roam its lands, winged beings with fangs take to the skies in thick clouds at sunset and giant eels live in abundance in the depths of its mysterious lakes. Aside to the much sought-after and dangerously venomous Komodo Dragons, it is also here in Flores that the first ever human hobbit was found.

Back in 2003, a team of Australian and Indonesian archaeologists, geologists and paleoanthropologists discovered a family of hobbits in the limestone caves located deep within the Manggarai district. All that remained of the hobbit family were merely skeletons but it was an astounding found indeed. The cave, also known as “Liang Bua” or “Cold Cave” in the local language, was home to a new kind of human species: the Homo Floresiensis.

The Hobbit of Liang Bua was the size of a 3-year old child, 106 cm in height, with a brain volume less than a third of a modern person’s. The tiny adult female skeleton, which resembled fossils dating more than 3 million years ago, turned out to have lived only 18,000 years ago when modern humans already existed.

Their disappearance coincides with that of other local fauna such as the Stegodon, the giant marabou stork and various vulture species. The loss was originally attributed to a volcanic eruption that occurred on Flores approximately 12,000 years ago but the recently published dates nullify this suggestion. Instead, it is now considered possible that the arrival of modern humans played a role. Although there is no evidence of modern humans in Liang Bua cave until 11,000 years ago, our species was moving through the region about 50,000 years ago.

Old Manggaraian myths and tales about small people living in caves are still doing the rounds. Further research may bring to light whether the ancestors of the Manggaraian people really have met the hobbit in a not so long past gone. Till today, Manggaraian locals still warn their kids of “tiny people” reportedly sneaking in to farms and orchards to steal fruits, local arak and sometimes, small children.

Liang Bua can be reached from Ruteng by car or motorbike. It is 13 km from Ruteng and the drive takes less than 40 minutes. There is also frequent public transport to Liang Bua or take a bemo (mini-bus) in the direction of Ruteng-Ranggi/Akel. You can also opt to go there with your own private chauffeur-driven car and guide or by motorbike. From Labuan Bajo, Ruteng is a 4-hour drive on the Trans Flores Highway. *Photo by Flores Tourism

  1. Manggarai’s Untamed Mausui Savannah

East Manggarai is not just about beautiful beaches, mysterious forests and ancient villages – there are wide open spaces very much like those found in the plains of Montana in America. One such destination is the Mausui Savannah that has risen to fame thanks to social media. An interesting point to note is that the Mausui Savannah is located right next to Waewole Beach. This means that you’ll enjoy breathtaking panoramas of a 70km long white sandy beach, the blue of the sea and the majestic mountains in the background as well as strong sea breeze while you’re there. The area is filled with cattle and horses which belong to the local Rongga tribe. So wide and spacious is the savannah that it is often used for cultural events, performances and tourism festivals, such as the recent Tanjung Bendera Festival. Nearby is an ancient graveyard filled with megalithic stone formations. *Photo by Marjinnews.com

  1. West Manggarai’s Empo Sanga Hill

The Empo Sanga hill is a new tourism destination located in West Manggarai, West Flores. It offers many of natures’ hidden secret that is waiting to be discovered. Empo Sanga derives from the word ‘Empo’ which means a mythical giant eagle with sacred powers, and ‘Sanga’ in Manggarai language means the act of the eagle in catching and eating its prey. The eagle then brings its prey to the top of the hill. Empo Sanga also has another meaning according to the people in Manggarai; Empo is the name of the ancestor of Manggarai Raya people, and Sanga is named after the hill that looks like a buffalo horn.

Located along the foothills of Empo Sanga, you can find a large natural cave which has the same name as the hill, filled with fascinating stalactites and stalagmite. If you ask the locals, they might tell you some of the many stories and legendary myths about the cave.

Aside of its exotic cave, Empo Sanga is also the best spot for bird lovers or bird watchers to observe the giant Floresian eagle. The native Floresian eagle is one of Flores’s endemic and endangered species. It preys on small birds and other small animals, and often bring their preys to the top of the hill. You can also find a quite interesting sight of the eagle’s prey bones that is scattered around the hill.

From Sikka Maumere, it is a long drive towards the north along the Transflores highway to reach this new and enchanting tourism site, or take an ocean ride from Labuan Bajo. *Photo by Agata Hepy Puspitasari

  1. Ligota Beach in East Manggarai

Ligota Beach in East Manggarai, Flores, is often referred to as a piece of hidden paradise by the locals. The best part about this beach is that not many locals or tourists know of it, which adds to its allure. The beach stretches on for 5km from Kali Wae Musur all the way to Muara Kali Wae Bobo. It has been said that the beauty of this beach is so astounding that it is almost hypnotic. This white sandy beach is interspersed with rocks of various striking colours and size, creating a seductive landscape that is appealing to the eyes.

The sea is a sparkling cerulean blue and the waves are gentle swirls onto the white shores. From Ligota Beach, you could see the towering Mount Poco Ndeki in the distance and the beautiful island of Mules in the west. The best time to visit is in the afternoon where you can catch the most dazzling sunset you’ll ever see.

Ligota Beach is located within Ligot Village, in Compang Ndejing, East Manggarai just 5km away from the town of Borong. *Photo by Tribuntravel.com

  1. Villages of Todo and Wae Rebo

Villages of Todo and Wae Rebo in Manggarai are the places to be to experience unique Manggaraian culture and history. Here is where you’ll find the distinctive round ceremonial houses and have the opportunity to experience everyday life of the local community.

The best way to reach Wae Rebo is by hiking from the lowlands. Depending on your physical condition, the hike may take 3 hours through some of the most biologically diverse rain forests in Indonesia featuring interesting vegetation including orchids, palms and ferns as well as an impressive population of birds.

Once at the village, visitors can view the authentic Manggarai housing called Mbaru Niang or “Drum House” and experience the everyday life of the local community. You can see how the locals live their day-to-day including coffee growing, rice planting and the weaving of traditional Songket cloth.

When the night comes, visitors are invited to spend the night in the ceremonial Mbaru Niang, a unique, one-of-a-kind opportunity to socialize and dine with the Wae Rebo community. Sleep on woven mats and experience life when extended families lived together under one roof.

Todo is also a great place to view traditional ceremonial houses. The village used to be the centre of the Manggaraian kingdom and the home of the royal clan. Visitors can enjoy the Mbaru Niang houses here in their full and reconstructed glory. *Photo by @la.valenciao via Instagram

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