The name of lake Kelimutu comes from two words, “Keli” meaning mountain and “Mutu” or boiling. The name isn’t given for nothing. Kelimutu nestles in a caldera of a mount with the same name that frequently has volcanic activity. This spot consists of three lakes together with three totally different water colors, making it most famous as Three Colored Lake (Danau Tiga Warna).
This lake which becomes the icon of Flores is so unique. Not only boasting three contrasting colors, the water of the lake constantly changes into other three different colors. By the time it was first found, Kelimutu came in red, white and blue. It then changed into green, black and pale blue years later. The beautifully haunting phenomenon doesn’t only draw the attention of tourists but also curious experts.
Local myth plays an important role in the history of lake Kelimutu. People believe that Kelimutu is a resting place for spirits of the deceased. Each lake is occupied by different souls depending on their deeds in life. The westernmost lake which is usually blue is called “Tiwu Ata Mbupu” (Lake of Old People). The two adjacent lakes are named “Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai” (Lake of Youngsters) and “Tiwu Ata Polo” (Lake of Ill-Hearted People) which are green and red respectively.
The myth gets stronger as there haven’t been any experts who can unveil the secret of the magic occurring in Kelimutu. There is no one can exactly predict how and when the change will happen as it’s believed that it occurs only by the command of the lake’s caretaker. If someone accidentally sees the changing process, something strange will happen and the water changes back into its initial color. “One of my fellow staff of this national park once saw the water color half changed at midday. But suddenly a thick mist blocked the view. After the mist has gone, the color didn’t change,” a staff of the park told an Indonesian travel website.
To the locals, the water color altercation means the spirits are angry. And to prevent any disasters, they “feed” the souls with offering consisting of rice, pork, coffee, betel leaves, areca nuts and cigarettes. The ritual will be closed with a big feast.
Lake Kelimutu is indeed a surreal natural phenomenon that can’t be found anywhere else except in Indonesia. The beauty together with the mystery makes this lake a magic-filled gateway for holiday makers. Visit the lake at dawn and enjoy the dramatic atmosphere when the sun is ascending with melodious chirping of spirit birds as the back sound.
Kelimutu is located in Ende regency, Flores that can only be accessible via Bali’s national airport. If you choose to depart from other airports, you may need to change flight several times. After arriving in Ende’s airport, you can take mini bus to Moni, a small town on Kelimutu’s hillside. You’ll start hiking Mount Kelimutu of 1639 meter from this town.