Ruteng, the capital of the Manggarai district, is located at the foot of a high mountain range and in the center of a complicated network of valleys, which flow into the largest rice-producing areas of Flores. Besides, the area around Ruteng is an important Indonesian coffee-producing area.
Due to its high altitude, Ruteng offers a pleasant, cool climate for relaxing. The mainly Catholic town is comparatively large, with supermarkets, various shops, and a soccer stadium. A lively market located towards the south of Ruteng is a central meeting point for people from the surrounding villages.
When driving into Ruteng you will certainly notice the red chapels of the Ruteng Cathedral, standing proudly in the town’s center. If you want to have an inside look, ask for the friendly pastor who is happy to show you the cathedral.
Long-standing traditions are still very much present in Ruteng, e.g. Caci: a whip fight which is an important element of traditional ceremonies. It is therefore often performed during the marriage of the wealthier and more influential Manggaraians. If you would like to experience such a ceremony, just visit the local market and ask the people there. Try to find someone who can translate your questions into the local language to avoid misunderstandings.
In Kampung Ruteng (or Ruteng Pu’u), which used to be an important ritual site, you can see a nice example of Manggaraian ‘compang’, a village center with the typical stone altar. The village is four kilometers north of Ruteng.
As Ruteng is a comparatively large Florinese town, it offers a range of accommodation and restaurants for tourists. The restaurants mainly serve Chinese, Indonesian, Florinese, and Western cuisine. As there are no star-rated hotels yet in Ruteng; the standard of the accommodation rather corresponds to the expectations of budget travelers.
How to get there
As Ruteng is situated on the Transflores ‘highway’, it is easily reachable from every larger Florinese city. There are buses from Larantuka, Maumere, Ende, Bajawa, and Labuan Bajo that stop in Ruteng. From Labuan Bajo it is about a six-hour drive (140km); from Ende it will take you around ten-hours to reach Ruteng.