Wae Rebo is one of Indonesia’s precious destinations in the formn of an old Manggaraian village. It situated in pleasant, isolated mountain scenery in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara. The village offers visitors a unique opportunity to see the authentic Manggarai housing and to experience the everyday life of the local community. In Wae Rebo village, the visitors can see “Mbaru niang”, a traditional, circular cone-shaped houses with very unique architecture. Nowadays, it is still a place to hold meetings, rituals and Sunday-morning prayers together.
Wae Rebo can only be reached by way of a three-hour hike, or depends to your situation, from the lowlands. The hike is definitely worth the effort, where we reach the village we can find the dense rain forest along the narrow path to Wae Rebo, which is one of a stunning biological diversity. This village is host some interesting vegetations, including orchids, palms, and different ferns, and also the impressive population of singing birds. The village has been supported to become the major culture tourism attraction in West Flores.
For increasing the beauty of the village, Indonesian government together with private organization and local community has renovated four of their “Mbaru Niang” or the ‘drum houses’. This house is a communal building, it gathering eight families who are descended from a common ancestor under its huge roof. Its structure symbolizes the unity of the clan, with the sacred drums considered the clan’s medium to communicate with the ancestors. The massive roof id made out of palm fiber, and it is supported by a central wooden pole. Furthermore, the ceremonial house, which has different in size from the other buildings, is the place where the sacred heirloom drums and gongs are stored, and where different ceremonies and rituals are held.
After the authentic ‘Mbaru Niang’ or the traditional Manggaraian house, the thing to see in Wae Rebo is witnessing the daily life of the inhabitants. Most of the people work in their gardens from early morning until dawn, and get busy with harvesting coffee and processing the beans. Even though weaving is not a major activity in Wae Rebo, you may encounter some women weaving traditional songket cloth. The visitors are welcome to spend the night in the ‘Mbaru niang’, to socialize and dine with the Wae Rebo community. You will sleep on a ‘tikar’, a woven mat made out of pandanus leaf, and get a taste of how life used to be when the extended families still lived their lives under one roof.
How to get there
There are several options to reach Wae Rebo:
Car or motorbike from Ruteng:
Start the 2.5 – 3 hour drive by heading south towards Golo Lusang. After having passed Pong Nggeok village, you will cross Wae Mese bridge. Go ahead to Narang village, followed by Nanga Ramut village, and you will end up in Dintor. From this small fishing village you can see the beautiful Mules Island. The road to the north brings you to Kombo – Wae Rebo’s twin village – and finally to Denge village, which is the starting point for the hike to Wae Rebo.
Truck (oto kayu) from Ruteng:
From the Mena Bus Terminal, the truck route will take you across the villages of Cancar, Pela, Todo, and Dintor before you finally reach Denge Village.
The oto kayu usually departs from the terminal in the afternoon. The trip takes about 3 – 3 1/2 hours. If you want to go back from Denge to Ruteng, you will have to wake up early as the bis kayu departs from Denge at 5.30am.
The boat trip is a good option if you start the trip from Labuan Bajo. Head south to the coastal village of Nangalili. Once there, you have to rent a boat (about Rp 400,000) to take you to Dintor. As there is no regular boat schedule, it is highly recommended to charter the boat in advance (contact Pak Irwan, +62 812366 89171). The boat trip takes about two hours and leads you across to Mules Island. After having arrived in Dintor, continue your trip to Denge by ojek (about Rp 10,000) for about 20 minutes.
In Denge, start the hike by taking the path between a local homestay and village SDK (elementary school). The hike will lead you across three rest spots. The first one is at Wae Lomba River, which is less than an hour from Denge. After another hour of trekking, you will find the second one, Pocoroko. This is an important place for villagers (and visitors) who want to make phone calls and send text messages from their mobile phones, as there is no mobile signal in Wae Rebo. From Pocoroko you will reach the third post, Nampe Bakok, which takes about 40 minutes. From here, enjoy the beautiful hill scenery before you reach Wae Rebo.