Linkgo spider rice fields near Cancar Village, Manggarai region, central Flores

Flores Map & Orientation

 

A quick glance at a map reveals that Flores island is long and narrow. At its widest point there’s barely 60km between the north and south coasts. It’s dissected east to west by the 700km Trans-Flores Highway, which snakes its way from Labuan Bajo to Larantuka way over on the east coast, connecting most of the islands major towns and the handful of other major roads.

Most travellers to Flores do at least some of what has become known as the Flores Overland trip, following the Trans-Flores Highway westward from Maumere to Labuan Bajo or vice versa. Those with less time can jump on or off at Ende as the three towns are serviced by domestic airlines coming from other parts of Indonesia. Very few travellers ever make it as far east as Larantuka, due mainly I suspect to lack of time rather than lack of attractions. From Larantuka, island hopping adventures in the Solor Archipelago and Alor Archipelago are only a short ferry ride away.

Moni village in the Flores central highlands

The highway tag is rather optimistically applied to the Trans-Flores route. 30km/h is about top speed along this road as it alternately twists and turns through steep sided valleys, clings to mountain sides and touches the north and south coasts. The slow pace provides a perfect opportunity for travellers to soak in the spectacular scenery and somehow stopping at roadside markets and villages just because seems like a perfectly natural thing to do. As a result, 7-8 days is a minimum requirement to do the Maumere – Labuan Bajo overland trip, taking in the main attractions. Chill on a deserted beach, climb a volcano or two, trek to a traditional village for an overnight homestay and generally dig below the surface a little more, you could easily blow away several months.