After having eaten up a day at the homestay in Denge, I had two days left to get back to Labuan Bajo for my Friday ferry. I decided to go visit a little place called Sano Ngoang, and check out another waterfall. I didn't have any expectations, as there was limited information about these destinations in the tourist brochures, but I'd been informed that the road was OK, so off I went.
Back along the highway again, but this time it was a wonderfully blue sunny day with nary a cloud in sight. Quite a change after the last few days, when afternoon showers put paid to doing much outdoor activity, or else getting absolutely drenched in a downpour. I climbed the hill at Cancar to see the spider web rice fields, the colours not so pretty once the rice has been harvested, but still worth the climb. Then it was further along the highway for an early lunch before heading south on the road to Werang.
There are two roads from the highway to Werang, and neither of them are particularly good roads. They are narrow, winding, and frequently the asphalt has washed away and it's only stones or mud beneath. Given how steep some of the descents are, it's pretty challenging riding, but I took my time, applied my brakes evenly, and arrived at Werang unscathed. From Werang, once you are through the village, the road is pretty smooth all the way down to the crater lake of Sano Ngoang.
The area is surrounded by forests, and is a popular spot for twitchers, so Burung Indonesia (the national birding association) has helped set up a number of homestays in the village of Nunang, which is on the southern aspect of the lake, where there are also hot springs. I just turned up, and an English speaking lady called Anna sorted me out somewhere to stay, then offered to take me for a little walk around. What she didn't explain was that she was offering me a guide service...
It was a pleasant couple of hours spent with Anna and a few kids, some hers, some just neighbours'. We went down to the lake, skimmed a few stones, then went for a swim in the mildly sulphurous water (no fish live in the lake). Later we went to the hot springs, where we picked the young shoots from a bush which only grows on the gravelly ground nearby and cooked them in the hot water bubbling up. They tasted a little like asparagus.
Then we hopped in to a small pool for a soak, and Anna gave my legs a massage, then we used clay to defoliate our skin and washed it off in the gloriously hot water. When I later discovered that these pleasant few hours would be charged to me as guide services, I was a little annoyed at the lack of transparency, but as the price quoted was very reasonable, I didn't mind.
The overnight stay in the homestay was comfortable, the food simple but adequate, and the next morning I headed back to Werang because I was off to see another waterfall.
Cunca Rami isn't heavily publicised in the tourist brochures, because the road from the highway is pretty dodgy. But from Sano Ngoang to Werang it's fine, and from the turnoff it's a pretty easy ride through another village or two to the end of the track where it crosses a river. I parked the bike and continued on by foot.
The walk takes less than 30 minutes, and involves crossing 3 rivers to get there. well the same river twice, and then a smaller feeder river is the third crossing. I really had no idea what I was going to see, so after crossing the smaller river I turned right on the foot track because it would join me up again with the main river. I noticed that the left fork seemed a slightly more used track, but it's difficult when walking along in the countryside, as these tracks are often also used for getting to farms and rice paddies. In fact, right in front of me were some beautiful rice terraces, with a man spraying some chemical over them. I was about to ask him which way the waterfall was when I just so happened to spy my quarry…
By far the most spectacular waterfall I'd seen in Flores, or anywhere for some time. It had a gorgeous pool for swimming in, and the spray formed beautiful rainbows.
After the waterfall I retraced my steps back to the bike, and took the road back to the highway. This road is closer to Labuan Bajo, and was in even worse condition than the road I'd taken yesterday, with large sections being just stones. I was glad to be going uphill rather than down, as braking on uneven slippery ground is much scarier than controlling one's speed going uphill. I made it unscathed, and was soon whizzing along the highway and back in to Labuan Bajo.
I met one other tourist on my walk back from the waterfall, but otherwise, in the two days in the area, I was the only tourist. It's an incredibly rich area for flora and birds, and natural beauty like the crater lake and waterfall, but because of bad roads, it doesn't get much tourism. I was so happy I'd gone.
But now I was back in Labuan Bajo, it was Thursday afternoon, and on Friday I was taking a ferry to Sumba. But first I had to buy a ticket.