5 unique facts about Wae Rebo village on the island of Flores, Indonesia

Arvino
4 min readMar 28, 2024

Waerebo, also known as Wae Rebo, is a remarkable village nestled in the Manggarai Regency of East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. It stands out for its unique cultural heritage, traditional architecture, and stunning natural surroundings. Here are some fascinating facts about Waerebo:

Wae Rebo village

1. UNESCO Recognition.

In 2012, Waerebo gained international recognition when it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This prestigious acknowledgment highlights the village’s significance as a living testament to the cultural diversity and heritage of Indonesia.

2. Remote location.

Waerebo is located deep in the heart of the Manggarai Highlands, often referred to as the village above the clouds. The reason is that the village is indeed above an altitude of 1,200 m, surrounded by dense forests and towering mountains. Todo Forest is shady and rich in vegetation. In this forest, you can find orchids, various types of ferns, and hear melodious chirping from various birds that make the atmosphere more cheerful. It must be remembered that there is no cellular coverage in this village, and electricity is only available from 6 to 12 p.m.

The air is also relatively cold, especially in the dry season. So, if you want to visit Wae Rebo Traditional Village, don’t forget to bring a jacket, battery, or charger, and, most importantly, read books for children to donate to the school library. Its remote location and lack of mobile operator signal add to its mystique and allure, making it a destination for adventurous travelers looking for an authentic cultural experience.

3. Cultural Preservation.

Waerebo is renowned for its commitment to preserving its cultural heritage. One of them is the Panti Traditional Ceremony, which is celebrated every November. This ceremony is one of the celebrations to express gratitude for the harvest obtained. This ceremony also marks the beginning of farming in Wae Rebo. The village has maintained its traditional way of life for centuries, including unique rituals, ceremonies, and social mores. Visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the daily activities of the community and learn about their rich cultural practices.

4. Mbaru Niang Traditional Architecture House.

Wae Rebo is famous for its traditional house, called Mbaru Niang. The word Mbaru means house, while the word Niang means tall and round. The shape of Mbaru Niang is interpreted as a philosophy that balance is represented through the shape of a circle. This Mbaru Niang house has five levels, where each level is designed for a specific purpose;

  1. The first level, called the lutur, or tent, is the residence of the extended family.
  2. The second level, called the lobo or attic, is devoted to storing food and belongings.
  3. The third level, called lentar, is where seeds are stored for the next growing season.
  4. The fourth level, called lempa rae, is to store food supplies in case of drought.
  5. Lastly, the fifth and top level, called the Hekang Code, also considered the most sacred, is the place of offering to ancestors.

The preparation of construction took up to a year and was built in mutual cooperation by the Wae Rebo community. The building materials are taken sparingly from the forest surrounding Wae Rebo Traditional Village. Made from Worok wood, floorboards from Ajang, blocks from Uwu wood, and roofing using palm leaves covered with ijuk, stretching from the end of the roof until it almost touches the ground.

5. Community-Based Tourism.

Despite its remote location, Waerebo has become increasingly popular as a tourist destination. Local handicrafts such as coffee, vanilla, and cinnamon bark are in demand as souvenir items brought home by tourists at satisfactory prices. The village has embraced a sustainable tourism approach, focusing on community-based initiatives that benefit locals while minimizing environmental impact.

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How do I get to Wae Rebo?

Waerebo village Map

Wae Rebo is located in South Satarmese District, West Manggarai Regency, Flores, and East Nusa Tenggara. This village is located at an altitude of 1,200 meters above sea level and is surrounded by mountains and valleys. If you want to visit Wae Rebo Traditional Village, you can set the starting point of the trip at Komodo Airport, located in Labuan Bajo. Next, leave for Ruteng City. Tourists can go to Wae Rebo Tourism Village by using public transportation along the initial route from Labuan Bajo to Ruteng.

Labuan Bajo to Ruteng by travel or bus takes about 4–5 hours. Arriving in Ruteng, you should stay overnight. The next day, you can continue the journey from Ruteng Terminal using a bus to Denge. After arriving at Denge, tourists start walking for about 3 hours to Wae Rebo Tourism Village.

In summary.

That is it for the facts about Wae Rebo village on the island of Flores. Waerebo stands as a testament to the resilience of traditional cultures in the face of modernization, inviting visitors to journey back in time and experience the beauty of a way of life steeped in tradition and community spirit.

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Arvino

Strangers in the ethnic diversity country. You can find me at arvinovoyage.com