In January 2001, a new volcano erupted just a stone’s throw from the small village of Ngoranale. When the ash cloud and poisonous gases receded enough to allow the thousands of evacuees from around the district to return home, they found the previously wooded hillside burned and blackened and a brand new crater containing several sulphurous crater lakes. After rains, water pooling in the lakes takes on a rather striking deep red to orange tinge depending on the mineral content seeping through the mud. As the water evaporates away during the dry season, the lakes turn into a fairly nondescript muddy yellow but even so it’s still worth making the relatively easy trek to take a look.
The trek to Wawo Muda lakes starts behind the catholic church in Ngoranale village, about 10kms from Bajawa along a good sealed road. The trail heads upwards away from the village through coffee plantations, eventually opening out onto grasslands where it follows a low ridgeline above a little hamlet. From here on the trail enters a thinly wooded area, slowly recovering from the force of the eruption, and joins another ridgeline which takes you almost right up to the Wawu Muda crater rim.
The trail is very easy to follow with a fairly gentle upward gradient for the majority of the way. With some good views of Mount Inerie along the way and smiling locals it is a very pleasant way to spent a few hours of your time. If you’re feeling a bit lazy or have difficulty walking, ask around the ojek (scooter) drivers in Bajawa as those familiar with the trail may offer to take you part or all the way to the crater.