Flores had always been my dream destination. I finally lived there for 3 months in 2013. I initially just wanted to learn the East Indonesia’s cultures despite of its poverty, tribal wars and other negative things I’ve read and heard about Nusa Tenggara Timur. Things seemed to flow smoothly, like puzzle pieces fitting their place when I finally set foot on Flores, a unique island with multi cultures.
Flores landscape offers blissful enjoyment from mountains, beaches, forests, lakes, waterfalls and rivers. The nature is beautiful and unspoiled, which fits a real adventurer. Sano Nggoang was nonetheless one of my favorites Flores adventures. It is reachable within 1.5 hours from Labuan Bajo, where people can easily rent motor bike for IDR 100,000-150,000/day.
I left Labuan Bajo in the afternoon hoping to catch the sunset by then. The plan somehow turned out to be an awful decision to make. While the sun was about to sink, I still could not reach the destination. I was thinking of staying in the nearby village, yet the desire to see the beautiful crater lake kept me gunned down a path. I began to enter a forest. Relied on motorcycle light, I hardly move faster than 5km/hour. It is understandable, despite the intensive promotion, only few tourists knew about it. It is also perhaps due to the beaten track and the lack of signage. Google maps was simply out of question. Luckily, I brought a Flores map with me. The map and the motorbike’s light were the only life savior that night.
I tried staying optimistic, and kept going until I arrived at a place so pitch dark that I only vaguely saw the shade of forest trees on my left and a vast open land on the right. First I thought it was rice paddy fields but to my surprise it was the edge of the lake! For a moment I felt like a champion.
My next challenge was finding a place to sleep. Had passed semi-permanent houses lightened by lanterns, I wished to find a more descent place to stay. I was about to turn back, when I saw this house with the open door. Fortunately, the owners let me in. They offered me a cup of coffee while we had a chat about the journey I had been through. When I was about to excuse myself, the family invited me to have dinner as well as a place to stay. Their genuine hospitality touched me deeply. As I lay on the bamboo bed, the sound of the wind buzzing through small holes of the bamboo wall lulled me to sleep.
When the sun rose, I was guided to the best spot to witness the beauty of the lake. It is on the top of a small island connected by a wooden bridge from the mainland. As far as eyes could see, the clear green Tosca water looked relaxing with the dense rainforest as background. The morning sun warmed up my heart and the picturesque scene filled my heart with gratitude to see the wonder God had created in Sano Nggoang.
I treasure the adventure to Sano Nggoang, honored of being hosted by the family and thanked them for showing me the real Flores.
Article and image by Irfan Taufik Rahman