Muck Diving in Maumere

Warning: This post contains cool footage
of the spectacular mimic octopus

Click play to watch video

If you see something swimming by in the video above which looks like an underwater Far Side cartoon creature wearing horn-rimmed glasses, that would be the mimic octopus. Mimic octopus? If you are wondering where you heard that name before, it might be that you read a recent National Geographic article about the discovery of a species of jaw fish which, ironically enough, mimics the mimic octopus. (That’s a lot of mimicry!)

We spent a couple of days at Ankermi Happy Dive Resort in northern Flores diving their world-famous muck sites. Lucky finds included: mimic octopus, long-arm octopus, a dazzling variety of nudibranchs, cuttlefish, yellow and black seahorses, an adult painted frogfish, 4 large harlequin ghost pipefish… it’s like a muck diving miracle.

There were also several extremely small animals we had never seen before such as bizarrely tiny pipefish and micro-nudibranchs. These animals were so small that we actually dove with a magnifying glass. Filming during muck dives is always a challenge as, unlike the jaw fish and the mimic octopus, we don’t have the ability to mimic our surroundings. Despite the challenges, of all our dive videos, this just might be one of our favorites.

Sunrise over Kelimutu

Up at 3:45 AM – man, that’s painful – and I had to practically drag Tony out of bed onto the floor to get him to wake up. (Getting Tony up that early is like waking a Tasmanian devil.) The last major activity on our tour was watching the sunrise over Mount Kelimutu, our second Indonesian volcano after Bromo. Famous for its three colorful crater lakes, Kelimutu is quite the natural wonder. The mineral-rich lakes all vary in color, and due to chemical reactions in the water, the colors can dramatically change over time. I had seen pictures of brown, green, yellow and even red lakes. Needless to say, we were curious to see what color combination was in store for us.

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The Lio Tribe

Our latest foray into the tribal cultural of Flores was a visit to Wologai, a traditional Lionese village situated on a beautifully forested volcanic ridge an hour past Ende. (The topography of Flores is phenomenal.)

Wologai is one of the few villages in the Ende district with well preserved Lionese art and architecture. Because of its adherence to traditional building practices, the village serves as the location for several of the Lio tribe’s celebrations.

The villagers were friendly yet shy, and quite adamant that we Continue…

Blue at Blue Stone Beach

On our way from Riung to Moni, we broke up the long journey at Blue Stone Beach on the southern coast of Flores. Famous for the colorful baby blue rocks which wash up on a stretch of black volcanic sand, the beach is featured on every tour itinerary. Blue Stone Beach, Blue Stone Beach, Blue Stone Beach. It sounds incredibly exotic. I couldn’t wait to see this masterpiece of nature.

But it wasn’t there.

Dozens upon dozens of Indonesian entrepreneurs Continue…

Here Be Dragons, Too

Most guidebooks and online resources suggest that the range of the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is limited to Komodo, Rinca, Gili Motang, Gili Dasami, and the mainland of Flores just opposite Rinca. So imagine our surprise when we discovered a population of “dragons” here in the Riung archipelago as well.

What?

Apparently, locals have known for some time that large monitors inhabit the shores of northern Flores to the west of Riung as well as some of the offshore islands. Locals suggest the government is only now taking notice of the Riung dragons’ existence. For centuries, colonists and travelers have been passing through Flores and, somehow, they seem to have missed the dragons of Riung. Could that be possible? After Continue…

Seventeen Islands Marine Park

After sitting in a car for several days, we’ve decided to mix it up a little and change our mode of transportation. From Riung town, located on the northern coast of Flores, we chartered a boat to take us around the Seventeen Islands Marine Park known for its beaches, coral gardens and interesting wildlife. For $45, our motley group of four was promised Continue…

Three!!!

Apparently, the number 3 is very important to these Ngada kids. Unfortunately, we couldn’t figure out why. Three musketeers, three little pigs, three’s company, three strikes out, three stooges? It’ll just have to remain a mystery. 😉

The Ngada Tribe

Neila and Gregorius

One of the highlights of any trip to Flores is certainly a visit to the Ngada tribal villages near Bajawa. As with the Sasak tribe in Lombok, the Ngada are struggling to balance their ancient traditions with the curiosity of outsiders and gradual modernization.

We visited Luba and Bena to get a taste of Ngada culture. Unlike Sade in Lombok, the Ngada villages do not have a local guide system in place, which can make visiting the villages somewhat awkward. And for some reason, Frans left us to enter the village on our own. (I’m not sure what was going on there.)

Most visitors come to the villages to experience their impressive tribal art and architecture. But you really can’t just Continue…

The Manggarai Spider Web Rice Terraces

After four and a half years in Asia, I really thought that we had seen just about every conceivable form of rice terrace known to man. From the Dragon’s Backbone in China to Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit to the terraces of Northern Luzon – I thought we had seen it all. Apparently not.

The Manggarai tribe of western Flores lays out their rice terraces in an incredible spiderweb design. Locals explain that the unique patterns evolved out of the need to subdivide fields to pass them on to children. (Couldn’t you just do that with squares?)

Clearly, the Manggarai have a certain flair for Continue…