Bus travel across Flores.
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Nov 13, 2012 2:22 PM Last Post By: pater
Nov 6, 2012 3:24 PM
Bus travel across Flores.Hi travellers.
After Komodo and Labuanbajo we plan to bus across Flores to Ende before flying to Kupang,,,Timor.
Possibly an overnight stay in Rutang , another overnight stay in Bajawa then on to Ende with a side trip to Kelimutu.
We would appreciate your comments on the bus travel and overnight accom
on Flores.Are the busses large and reasonably comfortable,or are they jambpacked mini busses with no leg room and chickens and bags of rice along the aisle.....
We have travelled Asia a lot,but now we are quite mature age and a small degree of comfort hes become increasingly desireable.
On arrival at each overnight stopover we will search out accomodation options...not the most expensive but clean and reasonably comfortable.Do you have suggestions of the most suitable.
Thank you for your comments. We travell in June 2013.
Nov 6, 2012 7:33 PM
1I travelled Bali - Lembata and return on public ferries and buses in 2008. I am assuming that by quite mature age you are into your late 70s or early 80s. I did not find large, air-conditioned buses in Flores in '08. Mini buses plied the road east from Labuanbajo. I doubt things have changed as the road is narrow and very winding. Travel is reasonably slow which is good as the scenery is amongst the most spectacular in Indonesia. The journeys are not too long. LB - Ruteng was about 6 hours. Ruteng - Ende, from memory about 10 hours and so on. You can hire a car with driver but then you are denying yourselves an authentic Indonesian travel experience. If you'd like to read about such go to: http://journals.worldnomads.com/merantau/ and read "Travelling the Trans-Sumatran, 1973." If you'd like to see a few photos of Flores, Sumbawa and Lembata go to http://www.panoramio.com/user/2281781 I would highly recommend staying at "Sunset Beach Bungalows" It is 25 kms east of Maumere at a place called Pantai Awuhir. The people there are very hospitable - a very relaxing place to recover from your travels.
Nov 7, 2012 12:43 AM
2They are not large or air conditioned.There are some 'minibuses' and some typical old style buses (like the old US school bus that you find in many parts of the world).
They are often packed and you may well find sacks of rice or chickens inside (though they are usually on the top).
AS merantau says,you can hire a car with driver if you prefer...about 500,000RP a day,more or less.
Nov 7, 2012 12:47 AM
Nov 7, 2012 12:50 AM
4Busses in Flores are indeed still small buses with nog legroom. Not comfortable, slow but charming :-). But in fact all travel will be slow because of the bad and winding roads across to island. The only thing you can do for more comfort is hiring a driver, it's also easy to find fellow travellers to share it with. You can hire one for more days, but we did just hire a different driver in each stopover or took the bus for some of the parts. Another advantage of a driver is you can make stops along the way and probably can cover more distance in 1 day if necessary. As we travelled all the way form Moni to Bajawa in 1 day, probably very hard if using public transport.
The only clean/good accomodation we found was the Santa Maria monastry in Ruteng (often recommended on this forum), spotless/hot shower! Other accomodation in Bajawa, Moni are more or less the same basic standard in my opinion. If you make it all the way to maumere: ankeri bungalows is wonderfull (25km outside maumere). In Moni: I wouldn't stay again in Bintang guesthouse, the place next door played very loud music all night long, it was a terrible night and we had to get up at 4 to go to Kelimutu ... I hope they worked out the problems with the neighbours by now (who were frustrated not getting customers, so they started to make the stay unpleasant for everyone around) .
The area aournd Ruteng to me was not that great, i prefered bajawa and would spend more time around there. But Labuan Bajo to Bajawa is a long way for 1 day.
You will have a fantastic trip!
Nov 7, 2012 2:15 PM
5If you go as far as Maumere, I recommend the Hotel Wini Rai (1). Find the details here. You can fly from Maumere to Kupang. I don't know about your plans in Timor, but there is not so much to see or do there. The highlights of the region are undoubtedly the islands of Alor and Pantar, which means you would have to take a flight or a ferry "back" in order to get there. So you may want to consider going from Maumere to Larantuka at the eastern tip of Flores, and from there, by ferry to Kalabahi. From Maumere to Larantuka, it's only a 3 to 4 hours' ride on a relatively comfortable bus.
Nov 7, 2012 2:53 PM
6Thank you everyone for your excellrnt help and range of information which is just what we want in planning this trip.
Depending on costs , we may hire a car and driver at each stopover crossing Flores. The accom options we will check out.
Thanks to each of you. Kind regards
Nov 7, 2012 3:02 PM
7Have a wonderful trip! Needless to say, Kelimutu is a must-do!
Nov 7, 2012 3:16 PM
8It's been 3 years since my last.... Flores trip but I dare say not much has changed. Buses on the main highway route you will be travelling on are medium to small – old and rattly . They are slow and not that comfortable, but for us mid sixties they are a pleasant enough way to travel offering good local contact. Off the main route you still even see the old style converted trucks with wooden seats but these have vanished from the main highway. For me, a serious downside to Flores bus travel is the local bus station situation where buses start and terminate several km outside town necessitating other vehicle travel at either end.
A much more convenient transport option not mentioned in above replies is the confusingly named "travel". This is a transport type found on many islands in Indonesia. In some places they are often minivans but on Flores usually they are SUV type vehicles, or occasionally saloons. They carry around 6-8 passengers in 2 or 3 rows. Transport by these is prearranged, often on request through your hotel. They pick up from your hotel and drop off at your chosen destination. They don’t usually pick up passengers along the way and vehicles seem to be in good condition with air-con though are not so spacious. Drivers mostly don't speak English and as most passengers are local it's a good chance to practice your language skills and get first hand local gossip if that’s your interest. When you take into consideration the fact that you don't need the bemo or ojek ride at each end they are even cost effective compared to the lumbering bus. For greatest comfort you can pay a surcharge and request the front seat beside the driver though this limits you to contact with the driver and can give an overly fine vision of Flores driving peculiarities.
Personally I favour a mix of buses and travels but if you want to stop along the way for photo opportunities and prefer privacy then hiring a car and driver as suggested in previous replies could be the way to go. Drivers often speak some English which can be an advantage... or otherwise.
Hotels? I have learned the hard way not to give hotel recommendations to friends so probably good to refrain likewise with strangers. I think it’s best to seek recommendations from tourists you will definitely meet in a previous town, and probably wise to phone ahead for a reservation as options are limited and they can fill up by mid afternoon.
Nov 8, 2012 2:31 AM
Nov 8, 2012 5:28 PM
10Thank you udangompong. your suggested option of SUV "travel" vehicles sounds great.
We used this type of transport on occasions in Morocco and found it most satisfactory rather squashy at times but friendly and "close" to the locals.On your suggestion we will most likely follow thru with your suggestion.
We really appreciate your most comprehensive response to our query.
Kind regards Sabresail.
Nov 8, 2012 5:41 PM
Nov 9, 2012 2:18 AM
I have been to Flores last year and I used a mix between private driver, public minibus, Travel and motorcycle self-drive.
My experience with travel, especially those in flores, are that you end up more cramped inside than you would on the minibus (from Ende to Bajawa 5 people on the three-seats row). However, the scene is so fantastic especially from Labuanbajo to Bajawa i would take a private driver for that leg as with the bus you cannot stop wherever you want. Minibuses can also arrange pick up from the hotel, but then usually you end up waiting for another one or two hours after pick up in the terminal outside the city.
It's definitely worth spending one or two extra days in Bajawa, and go explore the traditional villages around gunung api inerie with a local guide and a motorcycle. Another great sidetrip is going north from Bajawa and visit the 17th Pulau (not 17 islands, but named after the 17th of August, the independence day).
Nov 10, 2012 8:43 AM
Sorry for hijacking your thread but I have followed the dicussion and have a related question. We have a similar plan and will travel from Maumere to Labuan Bajo in 2 to 3 weeks next July. Ment0w mentioned a mix of public transport and private driver. This seems a very good idea to me. Which route sections are worth taking a private driver to stop and take pictures? (Thought about going from Maumere to Ende (for Mt. Kelimutu), maybe from Ende to Riung (for the 17 islands), Riung to Bajawa, Bajawa to Ruteng and then from Ruteng to Labuan Bajo). Maybe this information also helps you, sabresail, so the disruption is not too bad :-).
Nov 10, 2012 6:39 PM
14The entire cross-Flores sweep is seriously panoramic, its beauty only challenged only by the sections of the cross-Sumbawa road so you cannot lose no matter where you travel. Wonderful vistas - volcanoes hugging the shoreline, steepling mountains, plunging abysses - you will be treated to a great spectacle.
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