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 50,000), 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 25,000-35,000 (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. In the national park you can see a table of what color the lakes were for each year going back 20 years. Rp 20,000 entrance fee and 50,000 camera fee which isn't regularly charged. Rp 3000 for motorbike parking.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hot springs. Near the entrance to the Kelimutu National Park you find the hot springs. A perfect end to an early morning.
- 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.
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.
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. serves a four course traditional moni food. Flavore are comples and rich. The meal is composed of special local ingredients such as banana flowers and shaved coconut. Menu changes Baes on availability of ingredients. Very tasty and a steal at 50,000 per head. .
- Rainbow Cafe.
- Bintang cafe and restaurant, Moni, ☎ +62 852 37906259.
- Chenty Restaurant &Cafe. Beside Bintang Restaurant. Their specialty is delicious Moni cakes - mashed potatoe with herbs deep fried til crispy and well worth the wait.
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.
- 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.
- Bintang Lodge by Tobias, Moni kelimutu flores Indonesia, ☎ +62 852 37906259 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Clean and big rooms with tiled floor. The pricier rooms have hot showers. The restaurant is a great place to meet other travelers. As of May 2012, this is the only place in town with working internet, but there is only laptop and the speed is horrible (Rp 10,000/h). Rp 100,000-350,000.
- Watugana. 2 very comfortable rooms upstairs and 5 cheapies downstairs with less light and no view, but otherwise same. Rp 100,000-200,000.
- Maria Inn, Main road (opposite the school - head up the path where you see their sign and veer right). The budget rooms in the concrete in the back are old and worn-down, but they will do for a night - as at January 2012 they were closed for renovation. The two bungalows in front are nicer, though their bathrooms are so so. The owners are kind and helpful. Check if this is clean and try to bargain a bit - it's a good idea to check prices at other places first as their opening gambit can be quite cheeky. Rp 75,000-200,000.
- 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.
- Kelimutu Crater Lakes Eco Lodge, ☎ +62 361 7474205 (email@example.com), . 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.
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).