I firstly heard about this village from a friend of mine who involves in a volunteering activities in this area. She went there few times to give short classes to the kids and donate some books to the community. I was interested with the authentic traditional housing I saw in my friend’s photos, as well as her comment on how good and kind the people of Manggarai are (Manggarai is the area where the Wae Rebo village is located).
Finally, last week I had a chance to visit this beautiful village! Me and my friends, 3 ladies, arrived in Labuan Bajo on 26th December afternoon and continued our journey to Wae Rebo by renting a car.
There are only 3 airlines that serve to Labuan Bajo, i.e. Garuda Indonesia, Wings Air and NAM Air. From these three airlines, only Garuda Indonesia that provides direct flights from Jakarta to Labuan Bajo (return), while Wings and NAM start their flights to Labuan Bajo only from Bali. Therefore, you will have to transit in Bali if you take these last two airlines. Since Wings Air is a group of Lion Air and NAM Air is a member of Sriwijaya Air group, if you purchase your ticket in bundle (Jakarta-Labuan Bajo with two legs of flights Jakarta-Bali and Bali-Labuan Bajo), you may get Lion/Sriwijaya for your Jakarta-Bali flight (just fyi in case that matters to you :p).
Somehow we didn’t know until we arrived in Labuan Bajo that Wings Air offers a flight there too, so when we planned our trip, we only considered Garuda Indonesia and NAM Air. We finally took NAM Air because it’s cheaper than Garuda Indonesia and it’s more convenient for me who started the trip from Jogja (I didn’t want to go all the way to Jakarta first just to get direct flight Jakarta-Labuan Bajo! :D)
Garuda Indonesia airplane that arrived at similar time with us.
To reach Wae Rebo, you must take around 8 hours drive from Labuan Bajo to this village called Dintor, then another half an hour to a village called Denge, before continuing the trip on foot to the Wae Rebo village.
Since most of the flights, if not all, arrive in Labuan Bajo in the afternoon, you may want to take a rest and stay in Labuan Bajo for one night before continuing your journey to Dintor/Denge. However, me and my friends didn’t want to waste our time and went directly after we arrived in Labuan Bajo to go to Dintor.
We hired a car for our trip before our arrival, we bargained soo much without realizing what we will get. For three days of our trip (first day arrival in Labuan Bajo then went directly to Dintor, stayed a night in Dintor, continue to Denge the day after, and back to Labuan Bajo on the third day), we paid for 2.5 million Rupiah (excluding tips to the driver), much cheaper than the other offers we had.
The usual price that we got for the trip is: 1 million per day for Kijang Innova car, inclusive driver and gasoline (excluding tips to the driver), BUT somehow every booking shall be added with one day fee. So for example if you need the car for 3 days like we did, you must pay 4 million excluding tips to the driver, while actually you will only use the car for two days! (Day 1 Labuan Bajo-Dintor/Denge and 3rd day Dintor/Denge – Labuan Bajo). I can’t understand the logic of the additional 1 day for this kind of reservation..
Ok but long story short, finally we got this 2.5 million offer and took it. One of us had used the service of the driver from her last trip to Labuan Bajo and it was good. So we took it. Little did we know that we got a really old Avanza with a lot of problems on the way.
FIRST, the driver who talked with us (and whose services had been used previously by one of us) couldn’t make it (or so he said), so he sent his nephew/cousin with the magic Avanza..
SECOND, the handbrake push button of the magic Avanza FELL OFF just minutes after we left the airport.. We should have thought that it’s not the only problem.
THIRD, the car needs to fill with water. I mean, I don’t understand car mechanism very well, but how old is the car until you need water to cool it down? I bought my car in 2011 and it does not need it..
FOURTH.. the driver was changed in the middle.. We doubted the third driver at first because he looked so young, would he know how to handle this magic car?.. And we will spend night time on the road from Labuan Bajo. But what can we do. The second driver told us that he actually has a family thing to attend and this third driver is good enough to replaced him. So we just agreed and prayed we will return alive from the trip. 😀
FIFTH.. yes the third driver did not familiar with the specialty of the car. And how the windows and doors were hard to control. Sometimes the doors were hard to open and the windows slide down on their own and it was so hard to close them again. But turned out the driver was good enough indeed. He could finish the amazing road from Labuan Bajo to Dintor with such special car. Salute to you, Rino. Because of him, we could arrive safely in Dintor in the midnight despite the meander roads, and sometimes damaged. I could not sleep all the way to make sure that we were alright.. Once I noticed that Rino went off the car to fix a huge and deep hole on the road so we can pass it.
Conclusion: price don’t lie 😀 Perhaps it is okay to bargain for the illogical fourth day fee, but better to pay 3 million for 3 days than risk your life by taking 2.5 million “magic” Avanza. You may not be lucky enough to get Rino everytime! 😀
BUT, despite the crazy night we had, somehow I loved the road trip and it was one of my favorite parts of my adventure to Flores. Apart from the amazing adventurous road trip, on the way I got to see some buffalos, cows, monkeys and other animals too! And learned Manggarai language and cultures from Rino, which quite fun. Do you know that it is so safe in Flores that you can leave your vehicle unattended and noone will take it? Amazing, right?
A NIGHT IN DINTOR
There is a lodge in Dintor that you could use to rest before trekking to Wae Rebo the day after. Arriving in Dintor in the midnight, we were greeted by the owner of the lodge himself, Om Martin. We got an ensuite room with 3 single beds. The room and the toilet is fine, water is fine, food and view from the lodge were amazing. Om Martin also helped us with the guide who accompanied us to Wae Rebo.
TREKKING TO WAE REBO
We woke up the next day early morning, took shower and filled our belly with lovely food from the lodge. We got delicious nasi goreng with fried egg, while we noticed for foreigners, they got pancakes. The portion of the nasi goreng and pancakes were generous, and we got coffee/tea too. We also bought mineral water in the lodge for cheap price (IDR5000 per bottle).
Around 8pm, after breakfast and met our guide, Rino, our driver, took us the the next village, Denge to start our trek.
There was an event in the village we passed on our way to Denge. Here in Flores, most celebration involve boars, like this one 😀
In Denge, just when we would like to start our trek, we met an ojek driver who offer a ride until Post 1 (around 4KM) for just IDR30K per person! So we agreed to save our energy and take the ojek (fyi – ojek is a motorcycle taxi widely found in Indonesia).
In Post 1, we met some locals who work on the bridge. They rent trekking poles for only IDR10K per night! So I took one with me.
The trek was actually not so hard, but without proper sleep the nights before, I felt overwhelmed in the first hour. We finally finished the trek and arrived safely in 3 hours (not so sure if the trek was 5 or 9kms… I guess a bit more from 5kms but less than 9kms as people said . Our guide was not so talkactive and not so convincing either when he talked about the distance – that’s why never trust hikers when it comes to distance :D).
The view during the trek was really nice, we passed jungles and also cliffs with lovely mountains and sea view. On the way, we met this mother with two beautiful children who were heading to Wae Rebo too. The children, Friska and Dede were so cute but very strong and had same walking paces with us. They’re a family from Wae Rebo but live in Denge, they came to Wae Rebo for the christmas break.
Me posing in Post 2 😀
ARRIVING IN WAE REBO
You cannot take any picture of the village before you meet with the Elder of the village (Ketua Adat), pay small money to him and pass a welcoming ritual with him. Afterwards, you will be directed to the one of the traditional house that will be your hotel for the night and enjoying a local coffee from the community.
The things I love about this lovely village:
- The traditional house! You get to spend a night in the house with many other people and enjoy the beauty of simplicity. The round-shaped house has only one huge room with beds on the edges and multifunctional space in the middle. Everything is so traditional inside, but you still get electricity from 7pm to 10pm and there are 3 shower rooms and toilets with clear running water that you can use.
- The people! So lovely, kind and welcoming. This is not, yet, a touristic place whose local people will try to rip you off. This is just a village who happy with your visit and will be over the moon to just talk to you. I remember I met many locals who said “thank you for coming” everytime I met them on the road or during our trek.
- And the kids.. were even more lovable and amazing! Even if you don’t like kids, I dare you to come and not melted to the smiles and lovely stares of the kids of Wae Rebo.. Oh Dede, Friska, Messi, H&M (my nickname to her), I miss you all so much. Please, when you come here. Take some children books with you too. There is a library in the village that can take your donated books and let the kids read them for free. And please please please take some time to play with them. You will be amazed how it can make you happy inside.
- The coffee! Oh my god, have I told you that Flores coffee is just the best? But I think the one in Wae Rebo even better.. And we got to taste it all the time during our stay!
- The food. How could humble chayote can make really delicious meals.. I still have no idea. But I loved every meal I had in the village.
- No signal AT ALL in the place. What a peaceful two days surrounded with beautiful kids and mountains!
- I had my first good long sleep for weeks in this place! The combination of the tiring trekking, happy mood and good food perhaps the best recipe for the good rest I had that night.
LEAVING WAS THE HARDEST
It was so hard to leave the village with the lovely eyes of the kids staring at you. I left my heart in Wae Rebo.
TREKKING BACK WAS REALLY FUN!
With full belly and enough rest, I had a really good mood in trekking back to Denge. It was so fun and easy, we arrived in Post 1 in less than 2 hours (compared to the 3 hours the day before). There, our ojeks are ready to take us to Denge and meet Rino, our driver who will take us back to Labuan Bajo (with some stops in Ruteng and charchar first of course! Let me save that story for another day ;)).
Me and Fil, a 6th grader who walked with me to Denge. He lives in Denge but just spent christmas break in Wae Rebo.
VERDICT: Wae Rebo, the village itself and the adventure to get there, are gems that really fun to do! Fun road trip, great trek, good coffee and good people. What else do you want?