Sulawesi or Flores?
Replies: 16 - Last Post: Mar 11, 2013 2:53 PM Last Post By: Millipatti
Mar 2, 2013 7:07 AM
I really hesitate between these two destinations for my next vacation. I read a lot, searched on the net, but still unable to make a choice. So could you help? It's a matter of opinion, of course, and yours could be quite useful.
So, here are the "specs" that should be taken into consideration:
- I am a woman, traveling alone, used to travel mainly in India and South east Asia (but never in Indonesia). I travel alone but I'm not a lone wolf: I don't mind sharing the cost of transport or a few days of excursions with folks met on the road;
- I travel low budget but could put a few more bucks if I really want to experience something;
- I will travel for about one month, from mid-July to mid-August (so, partly Ramadan period)
- I prefer to travel slowly and enjoy a few places than to see "everything";
- I dislike to make reservations in advance;
- I want to "take it easy" as much as possible: I know I will be tired and will need to re-energize for the year to come and "stock" as much beauty as I can;
- I definitively want to spend time on a nice beach location where it will be possible to swim ( I can stay in the water for hours) and do some snorkeling (I don't know diving). My dream? A hut right on a calm beach...
- I like the countryside and the beauty of nature: easy treks are as much as possible on my agenda;
- I'm afraid of riding a motorcycle by myself but adore traveling with a guide on a motorcycle whenever possible.
So, Sulawesi or Flores?
And do you have an idea where I should land if I want to postpone as much as possible my decision?
Thanks a lot!
Mar 2, 2013 7:48 AM
1I suggest a combination of South S'ulawesi, F'lores and Alor. Use J'akarta as a hub. Generally speaking, from E'urope, flights to J'akarta are cheaper than flights to B'ali. I usually use Qatar Airways, which also fly from P'aris and N'ice.
From J'akarta, fly to M'akassar on S'ulawesi. There are good bus connections to Tana Toraja. I also recommend Cape Bira. Then fly or take a ship/ferry from M'akassar to M'aumere. Visit K'elimutu. From M'aumere to L'arantuka at the eastern tip of F'lores, it's just a 3-4 hours' bus ride. Then island-hop from F'lores via L'embata and Pantar to Alor. On Alor and Pantar, you can do easy hikes and treks, and explore the islands with a guides on a motorbikes.
The snorkelling is excellent, e.g. in Alor Kecil Village.
Find lots of info here: http://hirang.webs.com/apps/photos/
From Alor, fly back to J'akarta via K'upang.
Generally speaking, I'ndonesia is safe if you apply common sense. In J'akarta, I recommend the Jalan Cikini Raya area, which is a pleasant area and a safe one.
Ramadan will barely affect you, as the majority of the people on F'lores and Alor are Christian anyway. On the way you'll always meet backpackers, e.g. Kepa Island is a backpackers hub, for non-divers too. I was in Alor in July/August last year and did not have a single drop (!) of rain for seven weeks.
Mar 2, 2013 8:32 AM
2Based on your particular list of 'specs'...you could do either.But if I had to choose,based on your wants..snorkelling,beach and trekking..it would be Sulawesi.
Mar 2, 2013 8:41 AM
3Interesting culture there alright:
Mar 2, 2013 6:36 PM
Mar 2, 2013 8:41 PM
For planning your Flores trip go visit one of the better official Flores tourist website I have seen with tons of photos, useful information and even better detailed maps of hiking treks in Flores named http://www.florestourism.com/page/about-us
You should land in Labuan Bajo. Last November when I landed in Labuan Bajo and intended to travel by private car to Maumere I ended up staying for 8 days in Green Hill Hotel in Labuan Bajo. I booked for 1 night but extended my stay 7 times. I explored west Flores using Labuan Bajo as my base. I must say that that Green Hill Hotel is the best spot to stay as it is right in front of all the diving shops and eating and drinking places. Price is 300.00-450.000 rp. It is only one stair up the hill. It has big rooms with double bed, TV, warm water, very good a/c, nice staff and with a beautiful bay view. I also stayed 2 nights at the Puri Sara, near Bintang Flores next to Eco Lodge for 500.000 rp a night. The beach there is not that nice. These hotels feel deserted and in the evenings when you want to go for a beer in town you have to make arrangements for the hotel car. It is at least a 10 minute drive to Labuan Bajo. A more low budget option on main street is Losmen Matahari for 70,000 rp per day.Very friendly helpful staff. Pretty clean rooms, simple but big enough and the mandi had a shower. My driver stayed there. It is across an ATM machine and alongside one of my favorite warung. Gardena Hotel, Surya Hotel, Bajo Beach Hotel and Komodo Indah are in the 130,000 - 150,000 rp range. During my stay in Labuan Bajo I mainly explored west Manggarai by ojek. At the end of the day I returned to Labuan Bajo. An ojek you can rent for some 70,000-100.000 rp a day. A car for some 300.000 rp a day. Places to see are a lime stone cave Butu Cermin, Sano Nggoang the volcanic crater lake, located only 35 km from Labuan Bajo. It is a day trip but I stayed overnight in a homestay (40,000 rp). Cunca Rami waterfall and is a day trip. The road to it is terrible. I did it by car. Cunca Wulang Canyon Waterfall east of Labuan Bajo is a day trip. Melo Village, located 45km east of Labuan Bajo, where you can see a Caci dance performance. You can do a trek up Mount Mbeliling, about an hour by car or a 2 hour bemo ride from Labuanbajo. It is a 2 days hike with camping overnight at the top of the mountain. Warloka is a day trip by ojek. I must say that the trip to Cunca Wulang Canyon will show you one of the more beautiful sceneries of Flores. A lot of rice fields between mountain valley’s. Easily comparable to Bali. It looked like the rice basket of Indonesia. I did not excepted this in Flores. I saw homestays in the area. I think it is better to plan for overnight trips so you don’t have to return to Labuan Bajo. The price for Rinca to see the dragons with one of the boats was 350.000 rp, bargained down from 700.000 rp. The number of the boat captain was 082 144570919 Ambo. As to safety, you get what you pay for so check out their boat first. For snorkeling you can check the dive shops and ask if there is room on their diving trips. Friends did that daily for 250.000 rp. Dive shops do not like half empty boats. They also asked to be dropped at Kanawa and have a look/see. When they were not satisfied with the value for money they went back to Labuan Bajo with the same boat. Local beaches like Waerana are littered with garbage and plastic cups. I drove there with an ojek. Nice islands to chill for a few hours are Sabolo Besar and Kecil and Bidadari. On these trip arrange a lunch box for you and your driver or ojek from the warung across Green Hill hotel.
Mar 2, 2013 9:23 PM
6I went to Flores last year. I caught a bemo from Labuan Bajo to Ruteng. Though the distance was only 145 km, it took 4.5 hours due to the narrow roadwith an endless number of hairpin bends. From Ruteng, I saw the traditional village of Compang Ruteng and the Hobbit Cave.
I stayed two nights at Ruteng and then returned to Labuan Bajo to commence a 3D2N Perama boat trip via Rinca Island which finished at Senggigi Lombok.
Mar 3, 2013 6:23 AM
7My vote goes for Sulawesi, because I feel a month would be too long time to spend on relatively small Flores. Of course if you added some time spent on other islands in Nusa Tenggara, it would be different...
Also, Sulawesi is probably the better island for scenic walks among traditional villages - especially in the Tanatoraja or Mamasa regions.
Flores is mostly more arid.
Of course a month would not be enough to see "all of Sulawesi", but you could have a leasurely look at the island's highlights, the Tanatoraja region and North Sulawesi.
Mar 3, 2013 10:15 AM
8my vote goes for flores, but i have to admit that i havent been to sulawesi yet, so i cant compare
Mar 3, 2013 11:45 AM
9Thanks to all of you for your contribution to solve my "problem" (well, I'd really like to have this kind of problem more often...).
The "votes" are quite equal from now on... One thing is sure : I will certainly go to both Sulawesi and Flores... but not during the same vacation. As I don't like to rush, and as both islands attract me a lot (I should say more and more), I will have to go twice!
Considering that I will certainly be pretty tired when the vacations will come, my first criteria will be the possibility to spend a few nice days swimming for hours and hours (nothing is more relaxing for me): The Togian islands? Bira? Kanawa? La petite Kepa? These are the places I spotted. What do you think?
I would also love to find a guesthouse in the countryside, a nice place to stay for a few days walking around, enjoying the scenery or reading a book. Any idea? It is something that seems much more difficult to find either in Sulawesi or Flores.
e441993: the Flores Tourist website is amazing, I totally agree. Thank you very much. Take a look also at the voyageasie.over-blog.com. You'll see very nice pictures of both Flores and Sulawesi from a fellow traveler from Quebec, my homeland. (it's in French).
But the first things to do: to obtain the "go" from my boss (!) and buy my airplane ticket to Jajakta...
Mar 3, 2013 1:57 PM
10As you mention La P'tite Kepa, you can do easy and beautiful walks and hikes in the hills above Alor Kecil Village, the village just opposite Kepa Island. Cloves, areca nuts ("betel nuts") and many other things are grown there.
http://static.panoramio.com/photos/1920x1280/86890429.jpg (Alor Kecil Village, Kepa Island in the background)
http://static.panoramio.com/photos/1920x1280/86891265.jpg (entrance of Kalabahi Bay)
http://static.panoramio.com/photos/1920x1280/86890904.jpg (hiking in the hills above Alor Kecil Village)
http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/86891801.jpg (clove tree)
http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/86891815.jpg (drying cloves)
http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/86890736.jpg (areca palms/"betel nut trees")
http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/86890949.jpg (my daughter trying to climb a coconut palm)
You can swim for hours at Alor Besar, the next village to the north. There the water is shallow and calm. The drop-off is far out. The snorkelling at the drop-off is nice. On Kepa Island there are small beaches where you can swim too, but there is a bit of a current. When snorkelling there, you sometimes see small blacktip reef sharks, which come quite close to the shore, and turtles.
In Alor Kecil Village, you can watch women weaving ikat.
Mar 3, 2013 5:24 PM
11Drop Jakarta and fly to Denpassar from Canada. I think you can save money as it will be cheaper to fly from Denpassar to either Makassar or Labuan Bajo. You also have the change to see Bali if you wan to. There is also a huge Pelni boat sailing (every 2 weeks?) between Labuan Bajo and Makassar for around $40-50. It arrives the next day in Makassar. I know one arrived in Labuan Bajo on a Sunday (and I think coming in from Sulawesi). There was another smaller boat coming in on a Tuesday. I think it came from Sumba-Sumbawa. I always use Perama Tour and Travel (firstname.lastname@example.org) to book my inter-island flights and you can use either your creditcard or Paypal on their website. Their prices are not inflated and I have used them regularly since 2005.
Mar 3, 2013 10:53 PM
Mar 10, 2013 9:44 AM
13That's it! I booked a flight with Malaysia Airlines (Paris to Denpasar) from July 19th :-) to August 20th :-(...
After reading your advices (thanks to all!) and searching a lot on the net, I finally opted for Sulawesi for these first 32 days of travel in Indonesia.
I usually don't like to plan everything in advance (and I won't!) but this time, considering the huge distances, the lack of time and the peak season period, I will have to decide at least where to begin.
I'll come back to you pretty pretty soon with more specific posts.
Mar 11, 2013 6:10 AM
14Bonjour Millipatti !
J'étais en train de lire ton post et je me disais, ah voilà en plein une voyageuse qui me ressemble...
Ma surprise de voir plus bas que tu es Québécoise... moi aussi !
Et je suis présentement à Flores !
Petite info, ce n'est pas évident de voyager seule ici question tours et "promenades" en mer dans les îles... si tu ne veux pas avoir à débourser 50-70 $ par jour pour un bateau plutôt picpic tu dois trouver d'autres voyageurs... ça fait quelques jours déjà que je suis ici et j'ai seulement réussi aujourd'hui à trouver des gens pour partager un bateau avec moi.
La plupart des compagnies offrent des tours de plongée, le snorkelling c'est moins populaire.Mais bon je te dis cela au cas où, qui sait tu auras peut-être plus de chance que moi étant donné qu'en août il y a plus d'étrangers il semblerait.
Si tu as des questions sur Labuan Bajo il me fera plaisir de t'aider.
Bon voyage !
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