It is important to note that Labuan Bajo is the gateway into the Komodo National Park (KNP), which consists of Komodo Island, Rinca Island and Padar Island as well as the numerous smaller islands around it. Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Park is not only home to the Komodo Dragon; many other notable species seek refuge here including the orange-footed scrub fowl, endemic rat and the Timor deer. This is also where you’ll find one of the richest marine environments including coral reefs, mangroves, sea-grass beds, seamounts and semi-closed bays. There are over 1000 species of fish, 350 species of reef-building coral and 70 species of sponges as well as dugongs, sharks, manta rays, whales, dolphins and sea turtles.
There are two major points of entry into the Park; Loh Liang on Komodo Island and Loh Buaya on Rinca Island. A group of up to 20 people can charter a local boat at the port of Labuan Bajo for up to IDR 1.5 million per boat per day to get to your selected entry point. Another option is to book a tour package for guided tours around the Komodo National Park, which would include a tour of the surrounding islands including Komodo and Padar Island with activities such as viewing the Komodo Dragons, snorkeling at Manta Point and trekking at Gili Laba.
There are many operators now offering full day, half day or a few nights’ trips with full-board and half-board options. One-day island hopping trips are also very popular with many options available via online booking. Alternatively you could make your own arrangements when you are at the port of Labuan Bajo.
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.
Liang Bua is not only a limestone cave in the Manggarai district, it is the place for spectacular archaeological discovery made by a team of Indonesian and Australian archaeologists, geologists and paleoanthropologists. This is the spot where they found the “Homo Florensis”, a new kind of human species with a skeleton of very small stature, the size of a 3-year old child, 106 cm in height, and brain volume less than a third of modern person’s size. The tiny adult female skeleton which resembled fossils dating more than 3 million years ago turned lived only 18,000 years ago in a time when modern humans already existed.
Archaeological excavation is still going on, with further discoveries of the bony remains of Stegodons, varans, rats, birds, and stone artefacts.
Lingko (Spider Web Rice Fields)
These are unique eye-catchers, rice fields in the shape of spider webs. Although nowadays these fields are used for wet-rice cultivation, in the past they were used by the Manggaraians for growing dry rice, corn, and tubers, while ceremonies are held at the centre of the lingko. The division of the land is guided by a Tu’a Teno, a traditional leader of the land with knowledge and authority over rituals and ceremonies related to the agricultural cycle. Every family within a community will be appointed the right to work on a certain piece of land. The best place to view a breathtaking Lingko field is in the village of Cara, situated on a small hill 17 km west from Ruteng in Cancar.