Photo: The gear doesn‘t really grow on trees.


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Vaguely chicken-shaped Alor is the largest island in the Alor Archipelago. This is Indonesia at its rawest, and this island will appeal to independent travellers comfortable getting a little more off the beaten track.

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Keep reading to learn more about Alor!

Home to the archipelago’s sole airport and the administrative capital Kalabahi, which doubles as the primary port, all roads (or boat routes) lead to Alor. There is plenty enough to keep visitors busy for a few days, be it lazing on the beach, snorkelling and diving, or visiting a traditional village or waterfall.

Late light at Kalabahi harbour. Photo taken in or around Alor, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Late light at Kalabahi harbour. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Geographically, Alor sits at a crossroads. It’s set more or less north of West Timor; east of Pantar, Lembata and, in the distance, Flores; distantly south of Sulawesi and Maluku; and to the east Wetar and eventually Papua. Alor enjoys a rich diversity of people, with more than a dozen languages in use, many of them, like the people, having Papuan roots. Most Alorites, especially in the interior, are Protestants, while the sea-facing villages are more likely to have significant Muslim populations. You’ll see far more mosques by the sea, while churches and crucifixes dot the interior.

Indicating trade ties far in the past, Alor is known for its Moko drums, large bronze kettle-drums that play a prized ceremonial role and frequently feature in dowry transactions. Believed to have their originals in the Dong Son culture of the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam, these drums may date back to 700-500 BC. While trade is the logical explanation for how the drums ended up in Alor, there is no physical evidence to support this (other than the drums being in Alor!). Kalabahi is home to the excellent Museum 1000 Moko, which has an outstanding collection. The headman at Takpala village also has a collection in his traditional house, which he may offer to show ... Travelfish members only (Around 700 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Alor.
 Read up on where to eat on Alor.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Alor.
 Read up on how to get to Alor.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Alor? Please read this.
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