- Kalabahi — the only town in the archipelago, on Alor Island
Previously well off-the-beaten-path, more and more adventurous travellers are discovering the delights of this remote island group.
The key attractions are water-based, including world-class diving and fishing.
The archipelago consists of the following main islands:
- Alor - the largest island in the archipelago which is located at its eastern end. The vast majority of the infrastructure of the archipelago is either based here or run from here.
- Ternate (not to be confused with another island called Ternate, which is in Maluku)
The majority of Alornese speak Indonesian, along with local languages. Very few understand English.
The Indonesian national ferry carrier Pelni serves Kalabahi from many points in eastern Indonesia. Two ferries have scheduled stops here: MV Awu and KM Sirimau. The distances involved are huge, so be prepared for long journeys and frequent delays.
You can hire a motorcycle for about Rp 100,000 / 12 hours to go around the island. There are small minibuses to around Kalabahi, but their schedule is unpredictable.
Beachcombing: Mali beach, Maimol beach and Batu Putih beach for a relaxed swimming. Sebanjar beach is good for snorkelling.
Diving : Comet Bay, Pearl Garden, Kepa Island and Sea Garden along Ternate island, Pura island and Pantar strait are good spots for experienced divers, but the under water current is strong. Drift diving is also suggested.
See traditional houses and people custom in Takpala village about 45 minutes from Kalabahi by car/motorbike. They will show you their customs, clothes and houses as well their traditional dances.
See natural hot spring in Tutti near Bukapiting sub-district.
Mt. Sirung (or Gunung Sirung in Indonesian) (862 m) is one of the less visited volcanoes of Indonesia, but one of the most fascinating. It is the second youngest (see footnote) and north-easternmost of a chain of volcanoes extending from the south-western tip of Pantar Island north-east to Beang Bay. The volcanic chain is about 14 km long. Mt. Sirung is the only active volcano of the range. The latest eruptions occurred in the years 2012, 2004 and 1934. Mt. Sirung is a lava dome truncated on its eastern side by a 2 km wide caldera. The other, older volcanoes are overgrown with vegetation. So is Gunung Delaki (1,372 m), the highest mountain of the range and of Pantar Island, located south-west of Mt. Sirung.
The hike from Beang up to the crater rim is an easy 4 or 6 hours' walk-up (the time depends on the route), mostly through beautiful eucalypt savanna. From the crater rim to the top, it is another 2 to 3 hours' climb in pathless terrain.
From Beang, there are two routes to the crater of Mt. Sirung: one via Darang/Howang (Route 1), and one via Kakamauta (Route 2).
Route 1: Starting from Beang, take the trail heading south to the tiny village of Darang, where you will arrive in about 45 minutes. In Darang, the houses still have grass-thatched roofs. From Darang, a trail leads up the steep eastern slope of the volcano to the crater rim. Walking time is 3 hours. From where you arrive at the rim, you can head north-west, around the north-eastern side of the crater, to the canyon where the trail from Kaukamauta comes up.
Route 2: Starting from Beang, take the trail leading uphill to the village of Kakamauta. The trailhead is just behind the houses in the centre of Beang. The path will give you a stunning view of Beang Bay and take you through savanna woodland with lontar palms and eucalyptus trees. Shortly before you arrive at Kakamauta, you will pass small cashew plantations. From Beang to Kakamauta, it is a 2.5 to 3 hours’ hike. Where the path forks below an open, grassy slope about half way up, take the left branch.
Having arrived in Kakamauta, follow the main street through the village, passing the church and the mayor’s office on your left, and the football ground on your right, until you get to a T-junction. Turn left and leave the village on the dirt road leading south-west. After about 15 minutes, branch off to the left (south) onto a narrow path leading through high grass. There is no signpost and the beginning of the path is hidden in the grass 1 to 2 metres above the road. You will find it near a couple of dried-up trees on your left.
Now follow the trail up to the crater of Mt. Sirung. It is an easy hike of another 1.5 to 2 hours. The first section will take you through eucalypt savanna. Then the vegetation diminishes owing to the rain of ash that fell on the upper slopes of the volcano during the eruptions of the past decades. Keep walking on the ridge above the canyon that leads to the crater rim. It is not dangerous in dry conditions. Finally, descend into the canyon and follow it upwards (the bottom of the canyon is almost even). Soon you will arrive at the huge crater.
Inside the crater there is a large sulphurous crater lake and several active steam vents. It is possible to descend into the crater, but you are not allowed to do so all the year round. The locals say you must not enter the crater from June to September, because, if you did, Mt. Sirung could erupt and destroy the cashew harvest. Similarly, you must not go down into the crater from December to April, because at that time of the year it would endanger the rice harvest. So you can do it in October, November and May only.
There is no trail to the summit of Mt. Sirung. In order to get to the summit (after visiting the crater), go back down through the canyon until you can climb the ridge on your left (to the west), and then work your way up on the tops of the ridges and in the ravines. It will take you another 1 to 2 hours. The route leading from the summit of Mt. Sirung to the summit of neighbouring Mt. Delaki is an easy one (2 to 3 hours). Locals go up there to hunt deer with bow and arrow. From the top of Mt. Delaki you can go down to the village of Koliabang on the west coast of Pantar (3 to 4 hours), and then on to Puntaru, the village of the Pasir Tiga Warna ("The Sands of Three Colours").
About 5 km north-west of Mt. Sirung, you can observe how a new volcano is "born" - the Koralau: on a small, featureless hill, a gas eruption occurred for the first time in February 2011, burned the grass in the surroundings, and created a small crater of only about 10 metres in diameter.
- Scuba diving = Snorkeling - Beach combing - Visiting traditional villages - Buying Ikat weaving from the weavers - Wear traditional costumes in the Dekranasda to get your picture taken - Trekking to Mt. Sirung and Mainang waterfall - Visit the sacred hot spring in Tutti
Try the grilled fish in Reklamasi food court that open in the evening. These fish are usually caught fresh by the local fishermen.
Try to buy the traditional cookies - Kue Rambut - that are sold in the traditional market and supermarket
You might want to eat jagung titi dan kenari (crushed corn flakes and canary bean) that is sold in both traditional markets and supermarkets. Try the jagung titi that are sold in Jonathan Bakery near the old market for a ready-to-eat snack.
Kaleso (a cooked rice cake) is also worth trying. Its plain taste can be enhanced by side dishes with grilled fish.
Distilled sopi, a local fermented palm sugar alcoholic drink, is a must to try.