Situated on the easternmost tip of Flores, Ili Mandiri looms imposingly over Larantuka. In Mandiri’s shadow, the bustling port town that serves as the capital of Flores Timur seems somewhat insignificant. Most days, the 1510m peak is concealed behind a cloak of cloud; only rarely does this extinct volcano reveal itself fully. Perhaps this has contributed to the supernatural, mythical awe with which the inhabitants of Larantuka hold it.
One myth tells of Sirah Demon, the first ruler of Larantuka. Nobody seems to know when he ruled or where he came from, only that he first appeared on Ili Mandiri and had supernatural powers. The once royal house of Larantuka also claimed descendency from the union of a man named ‘Patigolo’ and mysterious woman he met on Ili Mandiri. The story goes that Patigolo, who came from Wehali in Timor, landed on the beach at Waibalun, a village in the Larantuka district. Looking up, he saw smoke rising from Ili Mandiri and climbing to investigate. There he met a woman of mythical original, who subsequently bore him four sons who went on to become rajas.
The best place to begin your trek up Ili Mandiri is from Riang Kemie village on the northern flanks of the mountain. The trail begins easily, passing through farmlands and cashew plantations and barely climbs at all until reaching an ancient lava rock bed about an hour into the trek. After tracing the rock bed up onto the lower flanks for 30 minutes or so, the trail leads off to the left and onto an overgrown ridge. It takes another hour of climbing the ridge to reach Ili Mandiri’s false summit. It takes another 15 minutes to reach the true summit, marked by a small cement pillar inscribed with P47.
Ili Mandiri is vegetated right to the summit so views are somewhat obstructed. The best views are actually from the false summit and other vantage points during the climb with glimpses of Larantuka and Ile Boleng on Adonara Island way to the west. There’s also a chance of spotting deer or wild pigs which inhabit the mountainside, or perhaps even a local villager out with his dogs hunting them.
From start to finish, the trek takes 6-7 hours to complete. A guide isn’t really necessary but if you feel you need one, you should be able to recruit someone from Riang Kemie without too much trouble. Take plenty of water as it’s a hot, dry trek. All in all, it’s a rewarding climb and not particularly difficult.