Kelimutu is a volcano on the Indonesian island of Flores. The local highlight is a system of three crater-lakes that are deeply ingrained in the local religion and culture.

These lakes each have a distinctive color derived from volcanic minerals and are thought to be the final resting place of deceased locals. The ‘Lake of Elders’ is a muted brown (some say Coca-cola) color and is said to receive the spirits of those who die of old age.

The ‘Bewitched Lake’ is usually a steely black color, though periodic rains and volcanic activity can change the tint. In any event, this lake is the least desirable, as it was reserved for those who led a less than exemplary life.

Connected to this lake is the ‘Lake of Young Men and Maidens’, a vibrant turquoise-colored lake with streaks of yellow and green. This is by far the most striking of the three lakes and locals believe it is a fitting resting place for those who die before their time is up.

The lakes are part of Kelimutu National Park. Visits can be arranged in the nearest town, Moni, where English-speaking guides are easy to come by.

Getting There & Away

Kelimutu can be reached by minibus or on a hike from the town of Moni. From here regular minibuses connect to Labuanbajo, a transportation hub on the western end of Flores. Regular flights connect Labuanbajo to Denpasar, Bali (1 hour), from where international connections are possible.