There are many “must see” weaving highlights in the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia but not all of them are accessible by boat. We therefore want to offer our guests a four-day pre-cruise option to visit some of these villages overland. We begin on the island of Timor with the first of several encounters with royalty. From there we fly to Ende on the island of Flores where we visit a small Lio weaving cooperative, followed by a traditional mountain village, and one of the most important weaving villages in the region. Sign up for our four-day pre-cruise option, for which we will be using a modern hotel in Kupang and a rural retreat at Moni in the Lio Highlands as our base. As a group we will travel overland to witness natural dyeing techniques, have opportunities to buy textiles from the villagers, taste local culinary favourites and see the famous towering Kelimutu volcano with its three, multi-coloured crater lakes. At the end of the four days we will join our seabound home, the Ombak Putih, in port at Maumere.
We fly directly from Denpasar to Kupang and have a late lunch and check-in at the modern Neo El Tari Hotel, just five minutes from the airport. We will take an afternoon drive to Baun for an audience with the King of the Amarasi, followed by a visit to a small local weaving cooperative to see a demonstration of how they make naturally dyed Amarasi textiles. There will be an evening presentation on the history and textiles of the Lio people, in preparation for the visit the next day. Dinner will be served at an excellent restaurant near the hotel.
After breakfast we will transfer to the airport for an early flight to Ende city on Flores Island, where we will visit the nearby district of Ndona to visit a cooperative run by a small group of Lio weavers who make beautiful traditional textiles incorporating natural dyes. After sampling local refreshments we continue up into the mountains to visit a fascinating Lio village where textiles are a feature of daily life, but where weaving is banned. We will eat our packed lunch in the local school before the clan leader (called a mosa laki) will escort us around the village and brief us about its history and culture. We plan to arrive at the Kelimutu Eco Lodge in time for a short rest before welcome drinks and a pre-dinner lecture about the textiles we will see tomorrow.
This morning we will head south on a narrow scenic road to the remote weaving village of Nggela, stopping along the way for photographs over the spectacular Mbuli Valley. The local Lio weavers of Nggela will show us how they still produce some of the best quality ikat in the Ende Regency. Although the use of commercial cotton is now almost universal and many weavers have adopted synthetic dyes, we will still see many examples of naturally dyed cloth, and perhaps even a ceremonial ‘lawo butu.’ Sadly the two rows of tall thatched clan houses at the heart of the village were destroyed by fire in late 2018, but we may still be shown a few of the important clan treasures that were rescued from the fire. There will be plenty of time for textile shopping before we return to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoon we will venture out again to the other side of the Mbuli Valley to visit an interesting mixed Christian/Muslim village that also produces textiles, but with different designs and motifs. Back at the Eco Lodge we will enjoy a traditional Lio feast and cultural performance.
It’s an early start today as we take a scenic drive up the side of the volcano to the carpark at the the entrance to Kelimutu National Park. From here it is a pleasant 30-minute-walk through woodland to the first viewpoint over the spectacular three-coloured crater lakes. Climbing the 236 steps up to the furthest viewpoint will give us a good appetite for the breakfast awaiting us back at the Eco Lodge. We will then drive through yet more beautiful scenery on the way to Maumere Harbour, boarding the Ombak Putih in time for a late lunch.
The route and dives are always organized according to the weather conditions, the currents and tides.