Introduction to Waerebo Village

Wae Rebo Village is one of the tourist objects located in Manggarai Regency, West of Flores Island in Indonesia. That village is located about 1.200 meters above sea level. Wae Rebo is a hidden (most isolated) and remote traditional village. That village is surrounded by hills and valleys. To go to that village the visitor must hike up Pocoroko Mountain. Its needed 3 to 4 hours to trek up.

Wae Rebo is an old Manggaraian village with unique traditional houses. In Wae Rebo, the houses are isolated and reside at the top of the hill, with only 7 houses that have been passed and preserved throughout 18 generations. These traditional houses are commonly called Mbaru Niang. These traditional houses have distinctive architecture left by the ancestors of the Wae Rebo community. Mbaru Niang is a house built with an architecture that is different from other house buildings because it has the authenticity of the architecture of the buildings with conical in shape and towers upward rooftop.

Besides offering a unique opportunity to see authentic Manggarai housing, that village also offers visitors the to experience the everyday life of the local community. Most of the locals here are Catholic and some of them still adhere to the old beliefs. The locals live by selling agricultural products such as coffee, vanilla, clove, and cinnamon that they plant around the village. Besides that, they also planted cassava and maize (corn) around for their main diet. Most of the locals work in their gardens from early morning until dawn, being busy harvesting the coffee and processing the beans. Even though weaving art is not a major activity, visitors can also find local women weaving traditional cloth. 

Cultural information

Houses used to be much more than a shelter to the Manggarai. They were used as an expression of identity and belonging. Homes were able to symbolize kinship and marriage relations, as well as patrilineal descent. Entire clans used to inhabit a single house with generations living side by side. 

The Manggaraian survival and main income come from agriculture. The main staples are rice and corn for income and consumption. This is supplemented by coconuts, cinnamon, coffee, and tobacco. Spider web rice fields are a practice they employ. These began long ago when they relied on dry rice farming. The center of the rice field was used for ceremonies and the land was doled out to families depending on their size. The Manggaraian have many festivals for many different occasions. Animal sacrifice, sword fighting (or Caci), blessings, music, and costumes are all used depending on the event. 

As reflected in the forms and meanings of language used in the folktale, in the cultural conceptualization of the Manggarai people, the first human beings were a man and a woman. Both the man and the woman emerged from plants when the rays of the sun from the sky shone down on the earth and hit a climb of bamboo high on a mountain top. The sky refers to ema eta ‘father above’ and the earth refers to ende mother below’. These are the two specific terms used by Manggarai people to designate the existence of God as Jari agu Dedek  'the Maker and the Nourisher'.  It is conceptualized in the cognitive map or the cultural knowledge of Manggarai people that, the first human beings – a man and a woman – emerged due to the marriage of the sky as ema eta and the earth as ende wa.


Transport to Waerebo Village

To reach Wae Rebo village, The visitor needs at least 3 days trip. The Visitors who come to Flores Island through pass Labuan Bajo can rent a car, motorbike, or truck to Ruteng (IDR 150.000 per person) and then go to Dintor (IDR 80.000 per person). From Dintor Visitors can rent local taxi bikes to Denge village (IDR 25.000 per person) where they get stars hiking.

On the first day, Visitors can come to Wae Rebo from Labuan to Ruteng and then have a ride to Denge Village. Thats need 6 until 8 hours. Then they start hiking for 3 until 4 hours to reach Wae Rebo Village. On the second day, visitors can live together, see and follow the local's life such as joined farming, joined processing coffee or vanilla, learn to traditional weaving art called Tenun (Sarung Kemumu), enjoy to be there with drink local coffee, see the sights of the village, or learn about symbol and meaning of authenticity of the architecture Mbaru Niang. Staying one night in Wae Rebo Village with food will cost IDR 350.000 per person.

On the last day, visitors can go back to Labuan Bajo through pass the south coast route by car or motorbike or the visitor can pay for the boat trip from Dintor to Labuan Bajo for IDR 400.000. That route offers visitors a view of “Nuca Molas”, the Island that takes the shape of a lying girl.

Getting around the area

On the way to go the Wae Rebo From Ruteng, the visitor can stop by Cancar (Meler Village) to see the sights of one of the traditional rice fields name “Lingko Lodok” which take shape of spider webs. This rice field shape has a connection symbol and meaning with conical in shape and towers upward rooftops of traditional houses in Manggarai including Mbaru Niang of Wae Rebo. These shapes can use to explain at least the social culture of the Manggaraian who uphold brotherhood of family and deliberation for consensus, which in the local's tongue is called “Lonto Leok”; and are a symbol of old beliefs that the Manggaraian trust everything in the world has had master, which in locals called by “Mori agu Ngaran”.

They also can stop by Todo Village. There, they can see another traditional village and traditional houses which are similar in architecture and shape to traditional house arrangements in Wae Rebo. Not only there, in Ruteng before getting starting ride to Wae Rebo, visitors can also see another traditional village and traditional houses with traditional house arrangements similar to Wae Rebo and Todo, but that is also Ruteng Pu’u. All of that villages represent culture, old beliefs, symbols, and traditional social life.

Besides that, the visitor who wants to spend more time in Manggarai can also visit “Liang Bua Cave”. Its located 14 km North of Ruteng. Liang Bua is a cave on a limestone hill in Manggarai. Its cave had huge sizes (50 meters long, 40 meters wide, and 25 meters tall). Liang Bua Cave is famous the world over following the finding of an ancient skull. The skull was that of a short human called Homo floresiensis. That was found at a depth of 6 meters.


What’s good to eat in Waerebo Village

Coming to Wae Rebo Village the local people will be served to visitors the local food of Waerebo. You will find some special dishes such as boiled cassava with local, the traditional vegetable-like salad of Waerebo. Visitors must try the best coffee in this Village in the morning.

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    Entertainment in Waerebo Village

    1. An Exciting Hiking Trails To Wae Rebo Village

    Wae Rebo is located at 1.200 above sea level which is quite high. To reach there visitors have to hike up from Denge Village. While climbing the visitor found it exciting hiking through the trails over the lush forest with a spectacular view of green valleys and hills. After reaching to the top, the air is getting colder, you will see the distinct design of houses, forming around the shape that signifies the unity of the community. With the towering mountain as the backdrop.

    2. Study of Wae Rebo Building Architecture

    Wae Rebo has unique traditional houses called Mbaru Niang that use palm fibers to cover from its rooftop to the ground. And it has a conical shape with a tall tip. The architecture of Mbaru Niang has five levels, each with a common name and important parts.

    The followings are the names and functions of the five levels of Mbaru Niang Lutur/Tent (1st level): serves as a room for human activities or inhabitants. Inside, there is a meeting room, a living room, and a dining room, as well as a bedroom; Lobo (2nd level): serves as a storage room for other foods (supplies and goods); Lentar (3rd level): serves as a storage place for seeds of arable and garden crops; Lempa Rae (4th level): serves as a food reserve/stocks if draught takes place; Hekang Code (5th level): serves as a storage room that use by family to give offerings for ancestors in the form of woven bamboo or langar.

    3. Penti Ceremony 

    One of the cultural tourist attractions of Wae Rebo village is the Penti ceremony. It is an important ceremony. Simply put, the Penti ceremony is a thanksgiving to God for the plentiful harvest and to prayer for prosperity and health in the coming year. There are prayers, caci fight, and sacrifices of pigs done during the festival. People from other villages around Wae Rebo are also participating, which makes the ceremony even more exciting to participate in.

    Caci is a traditional dance from Manggarai that is performed in traditional ceremonies and major events such as Penti ceremonies. The Caci dance is performed by two men who describe their respective strengths, masculinity, and attractiveness. Caci, which can be understood as a ritual whip fight, is a major element of Manggarai's cultural identity. Being a unique and aesthetic delight for spectators.

    4. Tasty Arabica Coffee of Wae Rebo

    Local people of Wae Rebo have produced Arabica coffee that has a distinct smell and taste. The locals use traditional ways to process coffee beans. Therefore you can expect a distinct flavor that is quite different from regular coffee processed using a modern machine. You can purchase the coffee from IDR 80.000 up to IDR 200.000 per kilogram.

    5. Traditional Weaving Art (Tenun)

    The women of Wae Rebo are skilled in the traditional weaving art called tenun. Normally, It takes them Three to four weeks to complete a tenun. Look under any Wae Rebo houses and we will definitely find the traditional tools required for tenun, as every woman here knows this craft. Besides that, they also made shawls with a local motive like tenun motif.

    6. Meditation and self-reflection under the Incredible Sight of Stars in the Night

    Wae Rebo besides its located in an isolated and remote area, it's isolated in communication too. The visitors can’t simply hit the ‘Enter’ key and have things at their fingertips. There is no phone line or data connectivity. But, here they will find connections. The connections not only with local people or other visitors but its connections also happened with nature. That connection can, even more, happen with themselves, they can feel with both their heart and their mind.

    In Wae Rebo the incredible view of stars is hard to be ignored. Waking up in the night with a cup of hot coffee and gazing in the stunning view of the night sky is the best way to enjoy the night in Wae Rebo.