Discover Three Colored Crater Lakes at Kelimutu, Indonesia

If you’ve ever heard of the three colored lakes, you might remember Kelimutu. If not, then this place is very unique indeed just to see three striking summit crater lakes of varying colors.

Mount Kelimutu is a volcano located to the small town of Moni about 50 km to the east of Ende, Indonesia in central Flores Island of Indonesia. The three crater lakes that are on the summit of Mount Kelimutu are referred to as the “Kelimutu Crater Lakes”. The name ‘Kelimutu’ is broken down to mean the following: “keli” meaning mountain, then “mutu” that means ‘to boil’..

The Kelimutu Crater Lakes consists of 3 wide lakes with total over 1 million square meters. The peak altitude of the lake is about 150 meters.At the westernmost of the three lakes is located ‘Tiwi Ata Mbupu’ (Lake of Old People) which is usually a blue color. The other two lakes, ‘Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai’ (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and ‘Tiwu Ata Polo’ (Bewitched or Enchanted Lake) are separated by a shared crater wall and are usually green or red respectively.

Geologists are fascinated with Kelimutu for the fact that the three lakes are different colors yet at the crest of the same volcano. These lakes have the characteristic to change water colors at periodic times. It’s believed that the colour changes as a result of chemical reactions resulting from the minerals contained in the lake perhaps triggered by volcano gas activity.

The Kelimutu Crater Lakes are located at an altitude of 1631 meters above sea level. The Kelimutu Crater Lakes are not the only lakes in the World that can change color. In South Australia, there is a lake that is able to change color from blue to gray. In Japan, there is a Yudamari lake that is able to change color from turquoise to green. However, the color changes in these lakes are predictable, while th Kelimutu Crater Lakes can change color changes at any time and can not be predicted. Also the color can be blue, green and black, and other times can be white, red and blue, and some time ago even turned a dark brown color.

According to traditional beliefs, the colors of the Kelimutu Crater Llakes and when they occur are not coincidental. They believe that every color has a special meaning, and there is great power behind it. Water in one of the lakes has a red color and can be changed to maoon or dark green. Other lakes have a deep green color and can be changed to light green, while the other lake is a blackish brown at times and can turn into a blue sky color.  According to belief, the blue lake is a gathering place for the spirits of young people who have died. The red colored lake is a gathering place for the spirits of people who have done evil during their lifetime. The White Lake is believed to be a gathering place of the old human spirit.

Scientists suspect that the discoloration of water in the lake is due to Kelimutu volcano activity, refraction of light, the sun, the micro-biota of water, the dissolved chemical substances, as well as due to the reflection color of the walls and the bottom of the lake. A brief explanation that the water color changes to blue and white (now green) is made possible by changes in the chemical composition of the water crater due to changes in volcanic gases, or it could be caused by rising temperatures.

Meanwhile, the increasing concentration of iron (Fe) in the fluid causes the red color to become black (now brown). The green moss is possible from certain types of biota.


Kelimutu offers other attractions besides the beautiful views of the lakes. It is also a conservation area. Since 1992, the place officially became a conservation area covering the Dipterokarp forest, Montane forest, and the Ericaceous Forest.


How to get there?

To access this place, you have to board a plane to Ende city. From Ende City you travel to the village Kaonara which is 93 miles and takes approximately 3 hours. Then, from the village of Kaonara you can go up to the summit of Mount Kelimutu on foot.


Kelimutu Crater Lakes is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Indonesia, therefore, there is plenty of accommodations around this attraction. You can easily find lodging, shelter, parking areas, and restrooms around this place. Simple class bungalows are available. If you want to stay in more luxurious lodging, you can go to Maumere, located about 4 hours away.

Lodging prices vary, depending on the facilities offered. There are only a few restaurants in this area. Before going home, take the time to buy some unique souvenirs so you’ll remember the uniqueness of this travel destinaton.

I hope I’ve given you enough of a glimpse into this geological wonder, that you’ll feel inspired to visit there one day. If you do, or you’ve been there, be sure to let us know!