by Caroliena Rahim
A small isolated village surrounded by tropical rainforest vegetation, Wae Rebo is not just another traditional village. The village above the clouds, as people called it, is hidden at 1.200m altitudes. Wae Rebo village is reachable by 3-hour hike from Denge, the nearest village. Hiking in the same trail as the villagers, you will meet them carrying heavy loads of food supplies they buy from local market. There is no market available in the village, the villagers need to walk for miles to buy food supply.
Along the way, you may hear a population of singing birds, passing coffee and chocolate plantations and see many Flores biodiversity.
When you reach the gate of the village, you are required to ring the bamboo bell to let the villagers know that there are visitors coming to the village. A traditional welcome ceremony called Waelu will be performed by the Chief tribe, praying for the goodness and safety.
There is no phone reception in the village and electricity only runs from 6pm – 10pm. It’s probably sounds like not an place to live in, but that’s what makes Wae Rebo Village unique.
Upon your arrival in the village, you’ll be offered a beautiful scenery of the traditional houses nestled in a lush greenery. There are 7 cone-shaped houses called Mbaru Niang sitting semi circle around a Compang or a sacred altar. The main house, the biggest and the tallest is called Mbaru Gendang where the welcome ceremony is usually held. And other six are called Niang Gena. 5 Niang Genas are used by the families and one traditional house for visitors.
Taking pictures village upon your arrival is very tempting. Before you are welcomed by the leader of the village however, it’s forbidden to take pictures or do any activities in the village. Considering the difficult access, an overnight stay in the local house is required. Spending a night with the villagers is a good opportunity to have a local experience and to learn more about the culture and tradition.
In 2012 Waerebo received an Award of Excellence from UNESCO in the culture and tourism category at UNESCO Asia Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation – which is the highest award for cultural heritage conservation, put it on the list as one of the must-visit places in Flores island.