Ruteng, capital of the district of Manggarai, in the western part of the island of Flores, is a pleasant, busy town backed by a range of mountains. Located some 1,200 meters above sea level the air is cool. Surrounding the town are green rice fields that provide the staple for the population on this predominantly dry island. Coffee grown around here is also most invigorating.
Ruteng is some 4 hours drive from Labuan Bajo, the town where tourists take boats to visit the habitat of the famous Komodo dragons on the islands of Komodo and Rinca or go diving in this National Park.
It is from Ruteng that the Catholic mission spread to convert many of the islanders, building many missionary schools, so that Flores today is indeed predominantly Catholic.
As capital city of Manggarai, Ruteng still maintains an equilibrium between the ancient and the modern. Most people visit Ruteng either at the start of their journey across Flores, or at the end. Here most facilities are available, accommodation though modest are clean and good, and shops are well stocked. Internet also works here.
Ruteng originated from a small village, and the story goes that it emerged from the heart of Compang Ruteng, or Ruteng Pu’u. This is a village that still exists until today and travelers go there to see the remaining original house of the Manggaraian and a compang, a stone altar that is the center of the village. A compang is a sacred place, where the ancestors are believed to live, while all the houses encircle it concentrically. Observe the locals who live as an agricultural community. Agricultural products found here are coffee, copra, candlenut, cloves, and cacao.
From Ruteng visit the mystifying spiderweb ricefields at Cancar, wander further to the Liang Bua cave, where archaeologists discovered skeletons of world’s singular hobbits. Watch the fantastic dance at Melo or Tado, or visit Wae Rebo, a hamlet in the hills of the district that still adheres to the megalithic culture.
Similar to Bajawa and Moni, the weather in Ruteng is unexpectedly cooler than the rest of the island, making it a nice exotic town for morning or evening strolls.
To know more in depth about the culture and suorrundings of Ruteng, tour guides are the best asset to explain and allow you to experience some of Flores’ best.
The puzzling Todo village is also worth an adventurous excursion, relating to the time when Minangkabau sailors from West Sumatra landed here hundreds of years ago far on the island of Flores.
The ultimate activity to do on Flores is of course visit the living Komodo dragons, the Varanus komodoensis, in their habitat. Overall, the regency is a natural and cultural reserve that continues to illustriously enhance this rocky island.
As a hub of tourist attractions on Flores, Ruteng is easily accessible by land transportation. Manggarai was once a larger regency.
In 2003 and 2007, it was divided into three regencies; West Manggarai, Manggarai, and East Manggarai. Its strategic position and geographical situation at the slope of Mount Anak Ranaka, makes the town of Ruteng an energizing transit town and a fascinating destination at the same time.