Bajawa is a city in the central highlands of Flores in Indonesia.
At 1100 meters, Bajawa is much cooler than in the lowlands along the beach. Bring a sweater for the chilly nights. The attraction here is the traditional ngada villages in the area surrounding the city, and huge volcano Inerie that looms over the whole region.
All buses from Labuanbajo stop here for the night before leaving the next morning, but you might as well stay an extra day and make a tour of it. The cheapest option from Labuanbajo appears to be the Gemini bus (Rp 100,000), which leaves at around 5.30 am from the ferry jetty in Labuanbajo - free hotel pick-up can be arranged. Expect a long (12 hours) and bumpy ride with little comfort. However, the incredible scenery and friendly passengers and passers-by compensate a lot.
From Ruteng to Bajawa by small van or Kijang will cost 75.000-100.000rp and will take 4 hours. Get your ride along the street. Most likely they will not stop on front of your hotel in Bajawa. Guning Mas is the best bus company at the moment and run between Labuabajo and Ende, stopping all places along the way. These need to be booked as far ahead as you can, as their only small minibuss essentially, but you get enough space and your bag goes inside the bus (at the back).
Public buses stop at the junction from where bemos wait to take you the 2 km into town. Expect to be asked to pay 5,000 Rp although less should suffice. A walk into town will take you about 15-20 minutes. Ojek cost 10k, this is the fastest and sometimes only option if its after dark.
There are many "tourist guides" in Bajawa. None of which are in any way trained and their primary skill is speaking english and overcharging. The best you can do is stay clear of them and just hire a motorbike (100,000 Rp.) or charter a bemo for the day (300,000+ Rp.) and see the villages at your own pace. Single travellers can just go with a motorbike (100k per day, try to bargain 80/day for a duration of 3 days).
There is a an official, and very helpful, tourist information in the mayor's office. There are also many touts that has shops with "Tourist Information" signs printed on them. Don't be fooled by them, the real tourist information will not try and sell you something.
- Traditional villages. Although, clearly a tourist destination, the villages house regular people, doing everyday things. Some are weaving the Ikat, others are simply tending to their livestock, all are very happy to be photographed, but of course ask first. a 5,000 Rp donation will be appreciated. edit
- Traditional fighting or dancing (not at the same time). This is not a show put on for tourists. However, it is a show. People from the villages gather to fight. The rules seem to be that there are no rules, and so it is difficult to determine a winner. A fight continues for as long as the audience is entertained and the fighters are willing to continue. Ask at your hotel if there is something scheduled. edit
- Waterfalls. Ask for the waterfalls with the old sauna. The sauna is not there anymore, but the waterfall is still beautiful and with the sauna gone it is a peaceful place that you can have all to yourself. It's on the road to the village of Bena and Luba, and makes for a good stop edit
- Oggi Waterfalls. Based around Oggi village. It is possible to walk from the main road along the rice-fields till you get to the waterfall. There is also a staircase on the side of the waterfall that allows climbing up. edit
- Hot springs. After a long day of traditional culture, it feels nice to plummet into the hot springs. There are 2 pools (as in man-made pools) with hot springs, and one that flows into a river mixing the water to a comfortable warm temperature. There is an overpriced shop there, so it's better to stop along the way for some ice cold Bintang to enjoy in the pools. The place is poorly maintained, but the spring is still hot. 10,000 Rp. edit
- Natural Hot springs- Malanage. This is not far from Bena village. Follow main road direction opposite to Bajawa direction until you reach Nage village(5km) The hot volcanic water flows in a river and mixes with cold mountain water creating a natural hot spring. By careful positioning yourself in the river it is possible to regulate the temperature. There is a suggested donation of 5000 rp. Thre is a changing-room hut. edit
- 'Wawo Muda'. An eruption in 2001 left a beautiful crater with two lakes. In dry season they are quite small but it is possible to climb down into the crater. The path is very unstable and great care should be taken. It is possible to ride a motorbike almost all the way to the top or hike from a nearby traditional village. Visiting Wawo Muda is an easy way to get up close with a volcano. 10,000 Rp. edit
Gunung Inerie (2245m)
Majestic Gunung Inerie is an almost perfectly conical volcano 7km from Bajawa. It last erupted in 1971, and has remained dormant since.
Reaching the summit of Inerie takes about 3 hours, and about 3 hours for the return trip, even for those in decent physical condition. Most tourists leave by 3am to make the summit by sunrise. The hike is not for the faint of heart: the second half becomes somewhat technical, as the trail climbs at nearly a 45-degree angle through extremely lose rock and gravel, and the final leg from the crater rim to the summit involves scaling a steep, rounded rocky slope with vertigo-inducing views below. Most of the trail provides no shade, and winds can be strong towards the summit. Weather can be inclement and often foggy. However, the taxing journey is worthwhile, as the summit offers a complete 360-degree view of the area, including the crater rim and Bajawa to the north, and the Savu sea to the south.
The trailhead can be found just off the main road through the village of Watumeze (just north of the Bena Traditional Village). Gunung Bagging provides the GPS waypoints for the trail. If you arrive by motorbike, you can use the GPS waypoints to find the trail head: a dirt road leading away from the main road at a 90 degree turn off to the right. Follow this road for 100m past a gravel pit; the trail starts to the right just beyon a village house. The lady at this house and her adorable entourage of small children speak some English and can help you find a guide or just watch your motorbike for the day. (Consider leaving a small tip).
Guides are not required, but are helpful for finding the trailhead and remaining on the "easiest" trail. A guide's skill and contribution is especially salient during the descent, when it is easy to lose the trail over bluffs. Guides also have a keen sense for safe foot placement, and will look out for your well being over the more precarious sections of the trail.
From Inerie you can see the peak of another magnificent volcano, Gunung Ebulobo, further east on the way to Ende. Ebulobo is a longer but easier climb, mostly through forest.
- Dito's. Reasonably priced restaurant near Edelweis hotel. It has the usual suspects of Indonesian cuisine and some western food as well. The pork satay (yes, pork!!) comes highly recommended. edit
- Lucas Restaurant, Jl Ahmad Yani No 6 (near Korina Hotel), ☎ +62 (0)384 21340. Nicely decorated with a large menu. Overpriced - the sate was 32,000 and didn't come with rice or salad and the somewhat flavourless asparagus soup was 25,000. Arak is available but it wasn't the nicest when we tried it. edit
- Rumah Makan Anugerah, Jl PB Soedirman (Next to Happy Happy Hotel). A small restaurant with only 4 tables on a clean and brightly lit room serving the staple Indonesian dishes. The nasi campur is served with plantains chips in a garlic sweet soy sauce and a spicy shredded coconut side. There are a few baked goods available and replenished daily. Also has beer (but runs out frequently) 25,000-40,000. edit
- Rumah Makan Padang Labuhan Raso, Jl. Basoeki Rahmat. Small dining place with traditional food from Padang (Sumatra), such as jackfruit in spicy sauce, fried fish, potato cakes and sambal egg. Price for dinner and drinks for two people around 60,000 Rp. Owner family is really friedly, but don't speak English, so bring a dictionary if you have certain dietary restrictions. Vegetarian food is possible if you ask. edit
Accommodation in Bajawa is overpriced, but since everyone passing through has to stay for the night, you have to suck it up.
- Edelweiss. A welcoming place with big and clean rooms. The rooms in the back are the newest and most expensive, but also the best value as they come with hot shower and a view. It's a shame that the rooms in front are overpriced. However, bargaining may help. The price includes breakfast. 200,000 - 300,000. edit
- Wisata Bintang. Clean and well-run place with friendly staff. The deluxe rooms come with hot shower and tv (no english channels). The standard rooms are as overpriced as everywhere else in town. 150,000 - 350,000. edit
- Korina. One of the most expensive option to sleep in town. Unfriendly staff hardly speaks english. The rooms are small but clean. They have free Wifi and a breakfast which depends on the number of tourists. This has just had a huge makeover, and is now the biggest place in town. In July 2016, the owner was asking 300k up to 500k for rooms, some slightly bigger than others. New rooms were quite nice though, a bit bare but with big bathroom from 375k high season. edit
- Hotel Happy Happy ([email protected]), Jl Sudirman (southern approach to town), ☎ +62 3842 1763. checkout: flexible. A bright, new and very clean place at the south end of town. Despite the name and the fact that it's run by a Dutch couple, don't expect a "coffee shop". Views of the volcano from the back yard. Free wi-fi, probably the fastest in Flores. Included breakfast is good, and options include home made bread, milk and cereal. Small but nice bathrooms with great hot water and floors that actually properly drain. This was by far the best value we saw in town on a January 2012 visit. In July 2016, a double goes for 370k or so, they now have separate prices for high/low season. Probably still the best value in town 200-350,000Rp. edit.
- Mbolata Beach Resort ([email protected]), Pantai Waelengga (Aimere), . An alternative for an overnight stay in the more touristical city of Bajawa is the Mbolata Beach Resort. It is located only 1 hour to the west from Bajawa close to the village of Waelengga (Aimere). It is a hideaway with lovely beach cottages on the Sawu Sea. edit
- Elizabeth. Basic rooms with private bathroom from 125000 rp for a double (May 2014). edit
- Hotel Johny, Jl. Gajahmada. checkout: 13:00. Basic clean rooms with hot or cold showers and option of TV. Towels and toilet paper are provided. Free good WiFi that you can almost get in your room. Warm, friendly, helpful staff. Basic breakfast of toast and coffee. Centrally located near day market and many warungs. Prices range from 110,000 to 300,000 (June 2015). Lorens (085-333-505-160) is a guide in connection with this hostel with good reviews. edit
There is a bus station near the market, but the buses will just as happily pick you up from your hotel at the same price. Be prepared to circle the town a few times picking up passengers (until full) before actually leaving for your destination.
- Labuanbajo (100,000 Rp, 10 hours), gateway to Komodo.
- Ende (50,000 Rp, 4 hours), ferry to Sumba
- Moni (80,000 Rp, 6 hours), for the colorful crater lakes of Kelimutu. The main attraction in Flores.
- Ruteng (70,000 Rp, 5 hours), the buses go from the small bus station at the junction outside of town (bemo 5000 Rp), where the roads coming from Ende and Ruteng meet. Those departing in the morning can also pick you up from your hotel. Otherwise buses should be going at least until 2 pm. They stop for lunch in Aimere.
- To Riung you can stand at the intersection to Riung and catch a 12 seater for 50.000rp. Don't let locals discourage you by saying that the bus runs at whatever time. The trip takes 3-4 hours. An ojek will take you for 100.000rp and for sure the drive won't take longer than 3 hours.
The main option to Riung is a very loca bus that will pick you up from your hotel around 12, spend an hour driving around town picking up people and cargo before taking another 3-4 hours at least to wind over the mountains to Riung. 80k per person. The road is in an absolutely terrible state and is quite a pianful journey, but Riung is well worth it.
- There is also private tour company going to Moni and on the way you will stop Wogo village(traditional village),blue stone beach-pantai Nangaba,lunch in Ende than continue to Moni. Flores Expert.