Ende is the largest town in Flores and is deemed to be the most important with its harbor serving other destinations around the archipelago. For the tourist, travelling to Ende can be a necessary transit onto Kelimutu. The town of Ende isn’t too appealing as it is a very hot and dusty place with it being situated at sea level. That being said there are black sandy beaches that you can explore to the east and west of the town. If you find yourself here for a few days waiting on a ferry or an aeroplane, it can be accommodating.
Ende was also the victim of the devastating earthquake that hit just north of Maumere in 1992 and the population is still somewhat shaken by the whole experience. Life has resumed at the normal pace but you can still see buildings that were damaged by the earthquake.
Ende’s real claim to fame is that president Sukarno was exiled here in 1933 and his house has been turned into a museum of sorts with original furniture and photos still in place. There is no charge to gain access to the museum and it can be an interesting visit to step back into the Indonesian 1930’s. The museum can be found on Jalan Perewa, which is located around 250 meters from the harbor.
If you find yourself staying overnight in Ende then it is highly recommended that you visit the bustling nightmarket that can be found just outside the centre on Jalan Kelimutu. The market really comes to life after sunset and you will find yourself walking around various stalls of exotic produce by candlelight. Apart from the daily food essentials, the market is supplemented with many food stalls where you can taste some local delights and chat with the locals sharing stories about food and history.
Due to Ende’s proximity to the sea and its sheltered bay, it can become very hot in this town. It is rare to have a sea breeze and the dust can be quite annoying at times. To escape this, the best options are to head inland or west along the coastal road and discover one of many weaving villages. Ngella is a village around 30km from Ende is very popular amongst locals and tourists alike. The fabric that is weaved here is regarded as some of the best in Flores and the prices can be a little expensive. The women of the village are hard bargainers so be prepared to bow down and accept her best price! The easiest way to get to Ngella is to take a Bemo from Wolowaru bus terminal in Ende. Another option is Wolotopo that is located just 7km from Ende. This village is not as frequented as Ngella so you can expect the fabrics to be cheaper. A very interesting option onwards from Wolotopo is the village of Ngalupolo where you can actually spend the night. It is a fantastic opportunity to gain an insight into the village life of Flores. If you have the time, it is well worth the trip.
You won’t find any high-end hotels in Ende however you will find numerous losman all offering a bed and basic amenities. Most of these Losmen can be found on the road to the airport.
Most people are here to move on to other places in Flores and the most popular destination is Kelimutu. It is easy to travel to Kelimutu from Ende. Make your way to the Wolowana bus terminal. There you will find buses departing to Moni from 6am through to 2pm. Be careful the bus conductor doesn’t charge you the full cost of a fare to Maumere. If you are heading to Labuan Bajo, buses are frequent and generally depart around 7am.
It is possible to travel to Kupang in West Timor from Ende by Ferry. The most regular ferry is Pelini and usually stops by Ende twice a week. If your timing is right then Roti and Savu are also on the timetable. The irregularities of the timings of ferries can be quite frustrating so it is best that you find an agent in town where this person will have updated schedules and can also sell you a ticket.