Ende, with it's 60,000 residents is the biggest city on Flores. Located along the southern coast, it's hidden in the curve of a small peninsula. At both sides of it you will find a harbor. Most shipping activity is concentrated in Pelabuhan Ende, which is located at the western side and has a good view over Teluk Ende (Bay of Ende). The new harbor, Pelabuhan Ipi, is located at the eastern side; this is the place where the big ships moor.
Ende is located in between of volcanoes. Against sunset you can see the Ebulobo at a background of the mountains west of Teluk Ende when the weather is nice. Meja is located in the south. The flat summit has given this dead volcano its name: 'Table Mountain'. A little away on the peninsula is Gunung Ipi, which is a little active every once in a while. Meja and Ipi give some extra experience to flying to and from Ende. From the harbor of Ipi to Gunung Meja, there is a four kilometer road, which continues to the village of Tetandara, where there is a volcanologic station. This station monitors Gunung Ipi, which erupted for the last time in 1969. From here you can also climb the volcano.
The area south of the old harbor is the most lively part of the city, with many shops, packed together in narrow streets. There are several losmen, visited by Indonesian and foreign travelers with a tight budget. The center is for sure worth while a visit, however the foreigner is still an attraction, though less than 15 years ago when you were surrounded by at least 25 people when you want to eat. The trick was to hide yourself behind a newspaper, but then you had to eat with one hand. Especially in the cheaper losmen it can be hard to find a little privacy.
You can bring a visit to the fabrics factory of Iwan Tirta, located behind Losmen Solafide. The owner is a famous designer of clothing in Indonesia. The workers use ikat-techniques to decorate their fabrics with traditional as well as modern - designed by their boss - designs.
Around Ende you can also see this traditional weaving, especially in Ndona, but better places are Nggela and Maumere. Advice for those who want to buy ikat in Ende: stay put. There are enough merchants who want to walk to the losmen with local fabrics as well as fabrics from Central Flores.
Nuabosi: panoramic view
For a spectacular view on Ende and environment you have to go to the village Nuabosi, nine kilometers off the main road to Bajawa. The mainly paved road to the village starts in the outskirts of Ende. The view is good right from the start, but have some patience: the best is still coming.
About three kilometers from the turn to Wolare, known because of it's traditional ironworkers. There is a source that rises between the roots of a big tree; the Balinese which live in Ende go here to worship.
Nuabosi has a rumah adat, a traditional tribal house with a crypt. A big flat stone is used as an altar, on which water buffalo's, horses, pigs, cows and goats for Islamic guests are sacrificed during traditional rituals. The rumah adat has gained a metal roof to catch precipitation, since the water reservoir is located 300 meters uphill, steep uphill.
The short sandy road leads from Nuabosi to the remains of a pension from the Dutch colonial period. The spot was well chosen: the view is nice. Around April-May the harvesting festivities are held here. The women weave and the men work in the valley behind the village where lots of vegetables are cultivated for Ende.
Wolowona: Gunung Wongo
Who wants to have another view over the area should leave Ende over the road to Maumere and turn right after four kilometers, towards Wolowona. The road crosses the river Wolotolo and ends in the weaving village of Ndona. Just after the bridge that crosses the Wolotolo, the road runs through rice fields which lead you to the mouth of the river. Boats are built in the nearby Nila. The peninsula with Gunung Meja and Gunung Ipi is across the bay.
It is said that the island of Koa, just off the coast, is the summit of Gunung Meja, shopped off in a fight with another mountain, Gunung Wonge. The big knife that Wone used broke off and fell in Teluk Ende, where is now forms the island near Ende.
Gunung Wonge used to have five pillars, which correspondent with the five important religions in Indonesia: Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Hinduism.
Another story tells you that the five pillars resemble the 'five Principals', the Pancasila of Indonesia. When Soekarno, later Indonesia's first President, was banned to Ende, he regularly visited this place to meditate. It is said that his son Guntur made a pilgrimage to this place with an Indonesian flag on his head.
Just west of the mouth of the Wolotolo is Tangga Alam ('stairs of the nature'), and a black sandy beach which is much visited by people from Ende during the weekends. A footpath follows a natural stairs and ends on a long stretch of beach. From here, it's about 1.5 hours on foot to Wolotopo, where you will find nice traditional ikat fabrics and houses. Just past the village is a cape which gives a view over the sea; it is said that the sea is full of sharks around here.
Nggela: weaving village
The (over)crowded 'ikat-village' Nggela is located east of Ende at the end of a bad road with a view on the sea. As soon as the first merchants see a foreign face, they spread out their fabrics in the center of the village. Their selling techniques are very rude: 'You want to take a picture? You have to buy a sarong first!'. When walking around you get a good impression of the different stages of the process of ikat, unless the women are working hard to sell something. Who wants to take pictures maybe has to pay for it. Nggela is famous because hand-woven threats and natural dye is used, but that goes up for several other villages as well. The prices in Neggala are not cheap. Look for woven fabrics on the markets during the market days.
Ikat is the most important source of income to Nggela. The several hundred inhabitants of Nggela grow enough rice, corn, manioc and other vegetable, and catch enough fish to foresee in their needs. But only the weaver brings in money all the time. About 2,000 sarongs are woven every year, of which at least a quarter is sold to tourists from abroad.
Nggela is best reachable from Wolowaru, along the main road to Ende and Maumere, about 40 kilometers from Ende. There are daily passenger trucks from Wolowaru to Nggela at the coast, very cheap. They drive more often on Fridays and Saturdays. You can also go by foot. The trip from Wolowaru to Nggela takes about six to seven hours and at least an equal amount of fresh drinking water per person. You can stop in Jopu or Wolojita for a refreshing coconut milk. You can also buy ikat in those villages.