Moni is a small settlement at the foot of the volcanic Mount Kelimutu on the island of Flores in Indonesia. It is a good base for a trip to the coloured lakes of the volcano.
Buses from Bajawa (7 hr, Rp 80,000) start at 6AM. Gunung Mas runs 12-seater "Travel Bus" from Ruteng to Moni (continuing to Maumere) at 7AM and 1.30~2.PM. It takes 10 hr from Ruteng to Moni (6 hours from Bajawa) and they will pick up from hotels by prior arrangement.
From Ende there are more options. Public cars (2 hr, Rp 40,000), Toyota Kijang are the normally the most comfortable option. Bemos (Rp 20,000) and buses (Rp 30,000) also ply the route in 2.5 hr. If you're feeling adventurous ojeks will take you there for Rp 100,000 letting you make your way in your own pace and stop for photos along the very scenic route.
From Maumere (3-4 hr) there is the same plethora of buses (Rp 30,000) and public cars (Rp 60,000), just ask at your hotel.
From Riung, the public bus to Ende (50 000) leaves at 6am and you can catch a bus to Moni from there.
The ubiquitous ojek is never far away. Depending on your guesthouse's proximity to the national park, ojeks are between Rp 50,000-75,000 (1 way) for a ride up to see the sunrise at 4:30AM. It's best to walk back since it's a nice walk, and there's nothing worse than having an eager ojek driver pulling at you to leave the beautiful lakes just as the light is getting perfect for that magical moment.
You can rent a motorbike at many places around town for 100 000 for the day.
- Mount Kelimutu. The main attraction. Beautiful at sunrise, the 3 mineral lakes at the top (in the craters) change colour with the changing light of the morning. The lakes change color completely from time to time. Go later in the day to see the amazing lake colours in daylight. In the national park you can see a table of what color the lakes were for each year going back 20 years. The foreigner entrance fee is now Rp 150 000 (Sunday: Rp 225 000) which is a complete rip off (local entrance Rp.7000). There is another way to go around the checkpoint but must take 2-3 hours. Check on OSMAndroid or Open street source map to see it. edit
- Monkeys. On your way down the volcano you will find the monkeys have awoken. There is an official feeding ground where you can go and feed the monkeys. Be careful, they are sneaky buggers, and there's always a risk when interacting with wild animals. edit
- Local Villages. . The settlement itself is surrounded by spectacular scenery, landscapes dotted with palms and banana trees. There are also a number of visible burial sites in front gardens, a local cultural tradition. edit
- Hot springs. Near the entrance to the Kelimutu National Park you find the hot springs. A perfect end to an early morning. edit
- Waterfalls. Opposite Rainbow Cafe, a small path leads down to a roaring waterfall. Popular with the young locals, this is considered the perfect site for a picnic. edit
Not far from Moni (about 5 km in the Ende direction), the big fruit and vegetable market is where the villagers sell the produce from their gardens. Everything is fresh, tasty and picked that very day.
Ikat sarongs and scarfs woven by the local women in the surrounding villages are easy to find. They come in 2 qualities, natural dye and chemical dye. If you don't know the difference, opt for the cheaper chemical dye.
There is a stall opposite Rainbow Cafe where a friendly local woman sells her handmade natural dye ikat - some of the most beautiful in Flores (subjective opinion, but you should go see for yourself). She will show you how the dyes are made and how the weaving is done, which gives a lot more value to what you're buying as you can see how much work goes in to creating each one. (not in low season).
Besides the guesthouses, there are several good restaurants around Moni offering western and local menus. And of course a couple of warungs peddling the cheap and tasty Bakso and Soto Ayam.
Try the traditional Moni dinner offered by a young local called Aran Ivan - he will do vegetarian on request.
- Bambu, 25 metre from main road,look at map on the sign, ☎ +6282183601880. Serves a four course meal of traditional Moni food. Flavours are complex and rich. The meal is composed of special local ingredients such as banana flowers and shaved coconut. Menu changes Based on availability of ingredients. Very tasty and a steal at 50,000 per head. You may read some more coments about this place on tripadvisor which are very negative about the owner cheating customers since years and showing aggresive behavior. rp,25.000/rp,50.000/rp.85.000. edit
- Rainbow Cafe, (First cafe when you come from the direction of Ende). edit
- Bintang cafe and restaurant, Moni, ☎ +62 852 37906259. Standard Mie and Nasi options. edit
- Chenty Restaurant &Cafe. Beside Bintang Restaurant. Their specialty is delicious Moni cakes - mashed potato with herbs deep fried till crispy and well worth the wait. edit
- Marta's Garden. Lovely little place to eat a local lunch or dinner with a fresh juice for a good price. Everything is home made by Marta and her two sisters. Their 'Moni Cakes' are delicious! Marta's restaurant (or actually her porch) is a 5 minute walk from Moni. You can reach it by walking down the footpath opposite Rainbow Cafe. After 30 meters you'll reach a nice waterfall (you can swim under it in relatively warm water, because of a hot spring somewhere above). Just follow the footpath up until you reach a small village. Turn right and after 25 meters Marta will wait for you. There's no sign when coming from this direction, but you won't miss her. She's a very enthusiastic and welcoming woman. edit
- Hidayah Cafe, Jl. Trans Flores, ☎ (0852) 3901. 7am-10pm. Not only offering the standard Moni fare, but also a variety of other tasty treats to choose from on the menu. edit
Accommodation in Moni is plentiful, although fairly spread out over 2 km along the main road. Prices are per room, and all have private bathroom with western toilets. This lists the accommodation in the order you approach them when arriving from Ende.
- Christin Lodge, Moni (One of the first you see coming from Ende, on the left.), ☎ +6281246594236. One of the latest establishments in the area (of 2012), it has 4 comfortable rooms with queen sized bed and big windows that let in plenty lights. Each room ( except one) comes with hot shower. He kept his place very clean and tidy. Include breakfast and palm sugar syrup for the pancake is delicious. Cheaper room without hot shower. Rp 350,000 not US$97 for standard room. edit
- Arwanty Bungalow. 2 large bungalows each with 2 rooms that can hold 3 people. A double bed in one room and a single bed in the other room that also holds furniture making out the living room. Rp 200,000. edit
- ANGI Homestay, (100m down the main road toward Ende from Bintang Lodge. Look for a blue & red sign.). 2 large rooms that can hold 3 people in a double bed and a twin. Price was quoted at 350k, but easily negotiated down to 200k. Seemed practically brand new as of April 2015 with flush toilet, hot water and warm bedding. Seems to be the best bargain in town. Rp 200,000-350,000. edit
- Bintang Lodge by Tobias, Moni kelimutu flores Indonesia, ☎ +62 852 37906259 (email@example.com), . Clean and big rooms with tiled floor. The pricier rooms have hot showers. The restaurant is a great place to meet other travelers. Can arrange travel and overpriced motorbikes. Rp 150,000-400,000. edit
- Watugana. 2 very comfortable rooms upstairs and 5 cheapies downstairs with less light and no view, but otherwise same. Rp 100,000-200,000. edit
- Maria Inn, Main road (opposite the school - head up the path where you see their sign and veer right), ☎ +6282183601880. checkin: any time; checkout: 12.00. Concrete rooms in the hilly area. The two bungalows in front are nicer but now the family lives in them, every room in the back has bathroom inside and western toilet (no toilet seats though). Some come with hot water, though sometimes there is no running water at all because it is operated through a pumping system that the owners shut down in the evening and at night to save electricity.The owners also have car for Kelimutu for Rp. 200.000. Rp 125,000-200,000. edit
- Flores Sare. Imagine a hotel in an atrium setting with a beautiful garden with ponds, canals and fountains in the centre and nice comfortable rooms surrounding that garden. Then you might get an idea what this place looked like 10 years ago. Now imagine that it has never been maintained, the canals are dry, the garden overgrown, and the staff indifferent or simply absent. Rp 250,000-450,000. edit
- Kelimutu Crater Lakes Eco Lodge, ☎ +62 361 7474205 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 10 cute concrete bungalows with balconies and thatched roof. The hotel recycles water and uses solar power. It is the only up-market (although hardly luxury) option in Moni. Rp 700,000. edit
- Palm Bungalow, ☎ +62 81227320223 (email@example.com), . Just off the main Moni road where all the other guesthouses are. Palm Bungalow is managed by Robert's wife and sister in law, who take care of their guests like they would their own family, even inviting you for a delicious home cooked dinner with them. Lovely little cottages and bungalows, right by a waterfall. They have bike and car rentals at very low prices to take guests up to Kelimutu and back. Rp 100,000 - 150,000. edit
- Soa Ria Lelegana (Homestay John), Moni, ☎ +6282236065399. A very basic homestay. Room with double bed ensuite (cold water) cost 200,000, but you might get it for 150,000. Bathroom is old and not very clean. Has a cute garden out the back. The owner John (who is also chief of Moni) is a friendly old guy who speaks some English and can help you with any local knowledge you may need (Kelimutu, traditional villages, ceremonies, local Lio language etc.). Rp 150,000-200,000. edit
- Agnes Homestay, 5 minute walk from Moni. Go down the little footpath opposite Rainbow Cafe. Pass the waterfall and continue up the path until you arrive at a small village. You walk right into Agnes Homestay. edit
- Hidayah, Jl. Trans Flores, ☎ (0853) 3901 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Four rooms with mountain views and great attached cafe. 200 000-300 000. edit
Buses and private/public cars pass through Moni on their way to either Maumere (3 hr) or Ende (1.5-2.5 hr, from Rp 20,000, some continuing to Bajawa or Ruteng). Your hotel can arrange transport for you in the public cars, but the downside is that the car will save a seat for you from their start in Maumere/Ende, so you have to pay the price of the full route even though you only get on in Moni. Given that enough people get off in Moni, it is better to just stop flag a car/bus in Moni when you are ready leave. It might take you an hour to do so, but there is also no guarantee that the car your hotel arrange for you will arrive at a specific time. This is Indonesia.
The cars licensed to carry public transport passengers are the ones with yellow license plates. (However, it seems everyone is willing to stop and let you on for a price).
- Jopunvolokoli village. About 20 minutes drive on scooter from Moni you'll pass through a traditional village (before Nggela). Ask for Maria. She's a local woman, who can give you a tour of the village and will tell you about their customs. You'll get to see a traditional village house. She doesn't ask for any money, but leave a donation that will help the local kids go to school. edit