35km to the east of Labuan Bajo in the heart of the Mbeliling mountain ranges lies Sano Nggoang Crater Lake. Formed during an ancient volcanic eruption, Sano Nggoang is the biggest crater lake in Eastern Indonesia and with depths of 600m is the world’s deepest volcanic crater lake.
Surrounded by 20,000 hectares of biodiversity rich Sesok forest, the area has been recognised as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) so it really is a nature lover’s paradise. Monkeys, timor deer, hedgehogs and wild boar thrive there. Camera traps set up by scientists in 2013 even confirmed the presence of a new species of komodo dragon in the area. The region also has populations of more than 20 rare and endangered birds, including four species which are endemic to Flores – the Flores Monarch (Monarcha sacerdotum), Flores Scops-owl (Otus alfred), Wallaces Hanging-parrot (Loriculus flosculus) and Flores Crow (Corvus florensis).
Three villages flank the lake; Sano Nggoang, Wae Sano and Pulau Nuncung. The former offering homestays and a variety of nature based activities including swimming, hiking, birdwatching, horse riding or relaxing in hot springs. From the top of Mount Golodewa, a one hour hike from Wae Sano, there are excellent views of the entire lake. Village homestays also provide an opportunity to mingle with the locals and learn about their customs, everyday life and traditional farming activities.
There are several of options for those wishing to visit Sano Nggoang. The first is to take a car or scooter from Labuan Bajo via Werang village directly to the lake; the 62km journey taking 3-4 hours along roads that become increasingly narrow and challenging as the journey progresses, particularly the last section from Werang to the lake.
Alternatively, you can leave your vehicle at Werang and trek the remainder of the way to the lake’s shore along the so-called “eco-route”. The trek takes 3-4 hours and is of moderate difficulty. There are a few trails to choose from so a knowledgeable guide, recruited from either Werang or Labuan Bajo is recommended. Ideally, you could then stay overnight at Sano Nggoang village and have your driver collect you from there the following day.
If you prefer to have everything organised for you, there are a few tour companies offering overnight trips from Labaun Bajo, either staying in a homestay at Sano Nggoang or camping on the lakes shore. Whatever your preference, Sano Nggoang Lake is sure to be memorable holiday experience.