The Painted Lakes

We climbed through clouds and rain to reach the crater lakes at Kelimutu, Flores. Sacred to the local people, who believe that souls return to them on death, the three lakes are different colours — which can change, apparently at random, year on year.

Why? No one knows, exactly. But it’s something to do with the density of minerals in these volcanic lakes, a density so high that they look like pools of enamel paint.

Some years they are scarlet, turquoise and rust. But when we went, one was turquoise and yellow, a second a rich deep jade, and the third a green so dark it was almost black.

17 Responses

  1. this is so incredibly beautiful – if eerie. sort of reminds me of crater lake in OR…

  2. I love the vivid turquoise in contrast to the limestone. (I assume that’s limestone?) We saw very similar color patterns in Yellowstone this week, thanks to the hotbed (literally) of geothermal activity!

    • Theodora says:

      Ummmm…. I’m wondering whether it’s volcanic sandstone, rather than limestone — it’s the sort of thing I feel I should know — but the yellow could, as at Yellowstone, be coming from the sulphur. Jealous of you for seeing yellowstone!

  3. Those colours are amazingly beautiful.

    • Theodora says:

      They were utterly stunning. Z just took a deep breath and went “it’s beautiful!”

  4. Looks good. The lakes were different colours when I was there in 2006. One was brown, one was white and the other turquoise. I loved that place!

    • Theodora says:

      It’s extraordinary, isn’t it? We saw a photo of when one was scarlet, like a biblical lake of blood. It really does live up to its billing…

  5. Jennifer says:

    Holy moly, that is beautiful. Never been, now I want to go. 🙂

  6. Scott says:

    Very beautiful; it always makes the climb so much more satisfying when there is a super view.

    • Theodora says:

      We did the bulk of our ascent on the bike, actually, Scott. There were a coupla hundred steps and some easy walking at the top, though. I think it could be a pretty fun climb to do, but we only had the afternoon to do it in. Plus it was raining.

  7. Stunning! Seems like all the effort of getting there was worth it!

    • Theodora says:

      It’s a 100-mile roundtrip from Ende. So I’m bloody glad it was worth it — we only had one day before our boat so we needed to do it straight after we got there. Z was like “This is going to be rubbish. So rubbish. Such a long drive…” (moan, moan, moan), then we look at the jade-green and yellow one, and he says, “Wow! That’s beautiful.”

  8. We’re heading to Flores next week and I’m trying to convince Mr. King that we can witness this beauty.

    • Theodora says:

      There’s a tonne of internal flights within Flores if that makes him happier: don’t know what condition the road is from Labuanbajo by now. But it’s definitely worth seeing. Truly remarkable.