While remote, Mount Kelimutu’s lunar landscape and shimmering waters make it a worthwhile trek. Located on the island of Flores, Kelimutu’s claim to fame is its three summit crater lakes, each with a different-hued pool. Geologists have studied the crater over time for its chameleonlike properties. Each lake has shifted from one color to another over the years as it comes into contact with mineral-rich underwater fumaroles. The surprise element of a Kelimutu visit is that you rarely know what colors will greet you when you summit the volcano.
Kelimutu is a volcanoe in Indonesia with three volcanic crater lakes that differ in colors. The volcano is close to the small town of Moni in central Flores Island with the distance of 50 km to the east of Ende, in East Nusa Tenggara.
The science of the Kelimutu lakes is relatively well known. Lake colors periodically change due to adjustments in the oxidation-reduction status of the fluid of each lake, and also considering the abundance of different major elements, such as iron and manganese. Oxidation-reduction status depends on the balance of volcanic gas input and rainfall rate, and is thought to be mediated by the groundwater system in the volcano itself.
The colors in the lakes change independently from each other, as each has its own unique connectivity to the underlying volcano’s activity. Between January and November 2016, the colors of the craters changed six times. Although it is widely believed that the changes are unpredictable, it is more accurate to say that the lack of any regular monitoring of the volcanic system precludes scientists from having the data necessary to drive widely available predictive models.
Getting There: Mount Kelimutu is located on Flores; Ende is the closest city. A flight from western Flores (Labuhanbajo) to Ende is the easiest option. Bus travelers can get closer to the mountain by taking a bus to the smaller town of Moni.
(National Geographic, Tour Viewers)