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If you're looking for a more exuberant way to return to Moni from Kelimutu, or are just in a mood for some further communing with nature, consider walking via Pemo.
There's a somewhat overgrown and very downhill forest trek that leads through remote villages, hillside plantations, and striking scenery all the way to Moni. If you don't feel like walking that far, it's possible to take a very bumpy ojek ride from Pemo either back to Kelimutu, or all the way back to Moni. The choice is yours.
The six-kilometre long trek to Pemo, which takes 40 minutes to two hours depending on your fondness for downhill sprinting through the jungle, begins at the Kelimutu parking lot. There, you can hire a guide who will take you through the hard-to-navigate forest down the hill. We went with Markos Hawa, a small, friendly, and extremely loud Pemo village native who charges 300,000 rupiah for what will likely be one of the more unusual hikes of your life. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, and bring some water and snacks.
Markos will lead you through the prehistoric jungles surrounding Kelimutu to his native village of Pemo, which features a traditional adat-style house, some betel-nut chewing ikat weavers, interesting Catholic graves, and stunning views of the sea and villages below. Enter a traditional house and check out the hanging wooden "heart" of the domicile, which is built to resemble a human body -- including the carved wooden human breasts mounted on one wall, meant to represent female ancestors.
Included in a hike with Markos: fresh guavas, carrots from the ground (cleaned with a machete) and numerous walking sticks if you show any sign of slipping, which are made on-the-spot with a few effectual slashes. Watch out for enormous bird-wing butterflies, tropical birds, hillside plantations of cassava and corn, and the occasional horse.
You can choose to continue the trek all the way to Moni, viewing waterfalls and a few more small villages along the way. If you'd prefer to return to Moni by motor, or to the Kelimutu parking lot to meet your transport, remember that cell phone reception at Kelimutu can be very patchy, so make any pickup plans in advance.
Marcos and other guides can rustle up an ojek who will take you back to the main road by means of a bumpy switchback, from various points on the hill to Pemo.
By Faine Greenwood
Last updated on 27th May, 2014.