Basecamp fro Kelimutu

The paddy-surrounded village of Moni is the closest accommodation point to Gunung Kelimutu, so if you’re aiming to see dawn at the summit, this is where you want to stay.

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Little more than a couple of tight curves in the road, Moni is a hamlet more than a village, furnished with around a dozen places to stay and a handful of eateries. Set on the side of a riverine ricefield valley, there is ample opportunity for ricefield walks, casual exploration and visiting a pretty waterfall and a set of hot springs -- but for most, this acts chiefly as a launchpad for Gunung Kelimutu.

Most visit Kelimutu from Moni to see the sunrise from the peak. To take in the full lightshow we would strongly suggest leaving Moni (that is, being out the door) at 04:00, 04:30 at the absolute latest. This is because much of the beauty of the peak is in the early light playing through the clouds and down onto the peak -- if you’re not there till 07:00 you’ll miss much of the show.

If the early morning proves to be cloudy, you can often catch some lovely morning light around 09:00 -- though clouds often rolls in not soon after. From Moni it takes 30 to 45 minutes to reach the carpark by car, then another 20 to 30 minutes to walk to the peak. The walk is straightforward and those of even a moderate level of fitness will have few problems. You can glance into the turquoise and brown craters from off-trail viewpoints, although exercise caution and adhere to signs—hikers have been killed here before.

Aside from the peak, at the Kelimutu end of town sits Rainbow Cafe and opposite it is a small trail, which leads to Murundao waterfall. This is well worth a look. Check out the collapsed wall from when the swimming pool wall gave in (you can still swim there apparently, we didn’t try) and a smoothly carved canyon where the water rushes on. There are also (according to the lady at Rainbow) hotsprings above the falls, but we didn’t have a chance to check them out.

From the far side of the falls one can trek through a village and eventually to the Kelimutu carpark. We like the idea of driving up and walking back rather than the reverse. The walk back up from Moni, all the way to the Kelimutu car park is both extremely steep and totally unsignposted – do not do this without a guide. It’s a much better idea to do this the other way around, all downhill.

Down the hill from the car park is a steep and verdant arboretum with labelled plants that feels a bit like stepping into the Lost World -- keep an eye out for unusual tropical birds.

Aside from the couple of guesthouses in Moni that offer food, there are a few warungs in the centre of the village and nightly traditional dance shows -- just follow the drums, you’ll find it.

There are no ATMs or money-changing facilities in Moni. The closest ATM is in Ende.

3G internet with Telkomsel works in Moni.

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