The Alor archipelago is situated at the eastern of the south-east Indonesia province, only an hour flying from west-Timor’s main town Kupang. It consists of the main islands Alor and Pantar as well as 14 smaller ones, of whom 9 are inhabited (Pura, Ternate, Treweng, Buayah, Kepa…). Kalabahi, on Alor, is the capital of this 200.000 inhabitants’ district. For years Alor has been in relative isolation due to limited infrastructures and transport facilities, which resulted in a natural environment preserved from dense human activity and industrial activities.
The Alor islands are surrounded by pristine blue waters and fairly strong currents, offering accessible reefs, drop-offs, caves and valleys, full of brightly coloured corals as well as sandy/sediment bay, hiding thousands of species of fish and invertebrates offering one of the richest marine biodiversity sanctuary of the coral triangle.
On land, you can find steep mountains, dry savannahs as well as lush rainforest. There is also an active volcano (Sirung, west Pantar), various hot springs, and some hidden waterfalls … These small, rugged and remarkably beautiful islands, dominated by jagged mountains and steep valleys, have divided the islands into many distinct ethnic groups, speaking more than 8 distinct languages within 50 dialects! There is a wealth of interesting local culture, with strong traditional beliefs and some of the best ikat weaving in Eastern Indonesia.
A lot of villages on Alor still follow a traditional life-style, living in houses tree-tiered and thatch covered or simple concrete ones, working as famers or fishermen often for not so much more than subsistence sometime growing a few cash crops like cashew nuts, vanilla or seaweed, and always with intense social life. In the most remote villages, although poverty is still weighing down, you are guaranteed a friendly reception from your hosts. The traditional dance, the lego-lego, is the heart and soul of Alorese society. This dance, where old and young dance hand in hand from sundown to sunset, can be seen all over Alor and people love it when visitors take part in the celebrations.
If you are looking for first class diving and prefer authentic setting than the regular tourist scene, come to these beautiful islands to enjoy stunning sea-life, traditional culture and general hospitality!
Visits and treks suggestions…
To visit Alor islands, there is a couple of trips to do in an half-day or a day: going to traditional villages Takpala and Mombang, driving around the “bird head” or “kepala burung”, including a stop at the nice Batu Putih bay… Or you can drive along the north coast of Alor, ending at “Tuti Agadai”, a tiny river with small hot springs… We also recommend you to visit the museum of Kalabahi “1000 Moko”, and of course to have a walk through the markets (pasar Kadelang, pasar Impres…) for a bath of life! It could be occasion for the adventurers to taste the “siri-pinang”, local way to chew betel/areca… You can also take regular boats from Kalabahi or rent a fishermen one to make a hop to Pantar strait islands (Pura, Ternate…).
If you like to trek for 2-3 days, you can go to Alor mountains: rural experience in nice landscape! You will hardly find 4 wheels vehicles, but alternance of “ojek”(motorbike taxi) rides and walks is a nice way to discover. You will sleep at people home: basic but friendly! Go for example to Mataru, Masape, Kelaisi Tenggah, … walk down to Atingmelang or Lakwati, and so many other places… You can also discover the active volcano in Pantar named Sirung. it takes 3 days, including boat trips to/from Baranusa (about 4-5 hours), 1 night in Baranusa losmen and 1 in Kakamauta, the village at the bottom of the volcano. Take care at some season it is not allowed to climb the volcano for some beliefs reasons you might respect. If you are not accustom to rural cultures or don’t know any word of bahasa Indonesia, we recommend you to get accompanied by a guide.