Perched high up in the mountains above 1000 meters, Bajawa is the Ngada trading outpost, the climate is rather chilly and it’s a welcoming change to the hot & humid lowlands. The little town is framed by forested volcanos, the biggest being Mt. Inerie at 2245 meters. Traditional villages, home to the Ngada people, are just close by and make for a good daytrip. So I went out exploring the area with a scooter.
On a small road close to Gunung Inerie I drove past small villages, was greeted by the friendly locals and school kids gathered round my bike when I made a break, begging for pictures.
Later I arrived at the traditional villages Luba and Bena, with characteristic huts, a distinct layout and friendly villagers. Normal village life can be seen, women’s weaving the Ikat and livestock is being held in the back of the huts. At the northern end of the village I discovered a brilliant lookout next to a small chapel and paid respect to the place for some time.
Further along the Malanage hot springs, hot volcanic waters mixes with the cold in a river, by carefully choosing a spot I sat and laid in the river enjoying the warmth, it smelled a bit sulphuric though.

Some hours along the curvy mountain road Ruteng, a market town – even less touristy than Bajawa, is situated at the base of a forested mountain range, actually a cloud forest with rain every afternoon. I didn’t walk the streets alone for a long time, young locals approached and asked if they can accompanying me and practise their English. I got to meet 5 different youngsters within 1 hour all asking the same questions 😉
Again the scooter is the best way to explore the area of rice fields, caves and traditional villages.
The cave in Liang Bua literally meaning cool cave is pretty huge but not very deep and stalactites in different sizes and shapes hanging from the ceiling. The remains of the Flores Hobbit have been found here in 2003. Further reads: .
All around the city rice fields are cut in the mountain slopes, some even in the shape of a spider web.
The traditional village of Todo is a 90 min ride away from town through beautiful green and hilly landscape, the last bit of the road was a rough ride as pieces of the road were missing. The iconic cone shaped houses used to be the kings residence overlooking the ocean at 750 meters above sea level. 4 traditional houses are left and have been renovated not too long ago, but the whole place is pretty commercialized, they ask for 50.000 rupiahs to see the village and try to sell you more clothes, you get the 20 min “tour” with one of the village elderly, speaking Basic English and that’s it, I was a bit disappointed.

All in all the highlands gave me the right energy I needed for the rest of the trip, I enjoyed the cool climate and the friendly people, looking forward to the next encounters…