Why not wake up at 5:50 on a Sunday morning on our time off from the IFP? With our research focused on IWANTs (Island-based Wildlife, Adventure, and Nature Tours) it seemed appropriate to spend our weekend off on an overland tour on Flores. Yesterday, we spent our day driving from Labuan Bajo to Cunca Rami, a massive waterfall approximately 2 hours from Labuan Bajo, and on to Dintor, ‘only’ 4 more hours humping and bumping across the small and winding roads of Flores. The long ride and our phones remind us how remote we are since there is no cellphone signal. So here we are, at 6 in the morning, being served banana pancakes by our kind host to provide us with enough energy to do what we actually came for: hike up the mountain to Wae Rebo.

The clouds warn us for what will come ahead and we prepare ourselves for the bad weather. Our driver brings us and our local guide Timo to the start of the trail in Denge where we are dropped off at a cobblestone road. WaerebobamboobellThis is where our hike starts, 4km uphill over small rocks and some larger boulders. When we enter the rainforest the road becomes a trail on which we have to hike 5 more kilometers uphill to the village of Wae Rebo. The higher we get the view gets blocked even more by the thick clouds that surround us. Towards the end of the hike the rain starts to poor and the small trail is starting to get even more muddy and slippery, it is actually nice to cool down a bit and wash away some of our sweat. We have already shaken many hands of local people from Wae Rebo before we have even reached the final post before entering the village. This was due to a funeral in Denge which many people from Wae Rebo had to attend. In a small post just outside Wae Rebo, Timo makes our presence known by clapping with a huge bamboo tool.

When we enter the village we first have to attend a welcoming ceremony in the main house with the village elders. It feels kind of awkward since we feel like intruders and we don’t speak their language. However, the mandatory 100k Rupiah offer is enough to be able to walk in the town freely. The locals serve us a freshly harvested and roasted cup of coffee to make us feel more welcome than the village elders did. We warm ourselves with our coffee while we meet some people of the NGO Indecon who are in Wae Rebo to support the local people to cope with the massive amounts of tourists visiting the town. The amounts of tourists actually harm the normal ways of Wae Reboeans living their lives since they now have to cater their guests instead of working their lands. Indecon is actively engaged in making Wae Rebo self-managed and getting the amounts of tourists preferably down instead of up. To the people of Indecon: keep up the good work!


When the sun comes we go outside to enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings and wow, what a stunning environment. The village has a lot to offer: the kindness of the people, the lovely plantations with all sorts of fresh fruits and coffee, beautiful wooden houses, and beautiful natural surroundings with mountains, waterfalls, and rainforests. Full of impressions we rest our tired bodies on thin bamboo mats on the ground for a short, chilly, and bruised night’s sleep. It surely feels like we are lost in the jungle.

Written by: Martijn van Santen