Few residents of Wae Rebo know much about the internet. Which is understandable, considering that this village on the Indonesian island of Flores has no school, no telephones and is 9km uphill from the nearest place with online access. “Broadband” has yet to be translated into Manggarai, the local language.
Yet it is largely thanks to the internet that Flores generally – and Wae Rebo in particular – have been catapulted into the list of Indonesia’s must-see destinations.
Until a few years ago, this island 750km east of Java was a crumbling backwater where only hardy backpackers dared venture. The millions of tourists descending every year on Bali, only a 90-minute flight away, might as well have been on a different planet.
Flores is hardly short of attractions. For years, Mt Kelimutu’s three volcanic lakes, each of a different colour, used to grace one of Indonesia’s banknotes. The island’s western tip is part of the Komodo National Park, home to the eponymous dragons – two of which played a deadly role in the latest James Bond film Skyfall. And in 2003 scientists discovered what they claimed were the remains of a species of “hobbit” in a remote cave there.
Wae Rebo is an old Manggaraian village, situated in pleasant, isolated mountain scenery. The village offers visitors a unique opportunity to see authentic Manggarai housing and to experience the everyday life of the local community. In the village of Wae Rebo, visitors can see mbaru niang – traditional, circular cone-shaped houses with very unique architecture. Nowadays, it is still a place to hold meetings, rituals and Sunday-morning prayers together.
HOW TO GET THERE
Truck (oto kayu) from Ruteng:
From the Mena Bus Terminal, the truck route will take you across the villages of Cancar, Pela, Todo, and Dintor before you finally reach Denge Village.
The oto kayu usually departs from the terminal in the afternoon. The trip takes about 3 – 3 1/2 hours. If you want to go back from Denge to Ruteng, you will have to wake up early as the bis kayu departs from Denge at 5.30am.
The boat trip is a good option if you start the trip from Labuan Bajo. Head south to the coastal village of Nangalili. Once there, you have to rent a boat (about Rp 400,000) to take you to Dintor. As there is no regular boat schedule, it is highly recommended to charter the boat in advance (contact Pak Irwan, +62 812366 89171). The boat trip takes about two hours and leads you across to Mules Island. After having arrived in Dintor, continue your trip to Denge by ojek (about Rp 10,000) for about 20 minutes.
In Denge, start the hike by taking the path between a local homestay and village SDK (elementary school). The hike will lead you across three rest spots. The first one is at Wae Lomba River, which is less than an hour from Denge. After another hour of trekking, you will find the second one, Pocoroko. This is an important place for villagers (and visitors) who want to make phone calls and send text messages from their mobile phones, as there is no mobile signal in Wae Rebo. From Pocoroko you will reach the third post, Nampe Bakok, which takes about 40 minutes. From here, enjoy the beautiful hill scenery before you reach Wae Rebo.