At 2,353m high, Poco Ngandonalu is the highest peak in Flores and being only 7km south of Ruteng, it’s very accessible for would-be climbers. Despite the lofty elevation, views from the top are somewhat limited since the whole mountain is thickly forested and this probably explains why only a handful of adventurers make the climb each year.
The easiest route up the mountain commences from an isolated gated house called Villa Ria, about 15min drive south from downtown Ruteng. It’s well known so a local ojek should have no trouble getting you this starting point. From here it’s basically a matter of following the local woodcutter’s trails up the mountainside. The trails tend to fade in and out; new trails cut and others abandoned as the loggers move on to new areas so it’s really just a matter of continuing upwards in the general direction of the summit. Towards the top where the terrain is too steep for logging, there are no trails at all. From here you need to pick your own way through the undergrowth to reach the summit.
The ascent takes around 3 hours and 2 hours on descent. Despite some steep sections towards the top, it’s not an overly difficult trek but it can be muddy and slippery after rain. A guide isn’t necessary and in fact you’d probably have difficulty finding one. It seems the locals don’t bother climbing Poco Ngandonalu in any higher numbers than the tourists. What you will need though is a GPS to keep you on track for the summit and help you identify it when you actually get there.