The Traditional Village of Wae Rebo on the Island of Flores
Wae Rebo is a small, very out of the way village. Situated on around 1,100 meters above sea level and approximately 3 – 4-hour travel by foot from Denge Village. Wae Rebo is completely surrounded by panoramic mountains and the dense Todo forest. This tropical forest is rich in vegetation, where you will find orchids, different types of ferns and hear the chirping of many songbirds. There is also no mobile coverage in this village, and the electricity is only available from 6 to 10 pm. The air is relatively cold, especially in the dry season, so don’t forget to bring your jacket if you’re planning to visit the village.
The traditional village of Wae Rebo in the district of Manggarai on the island of Flores, East Nusatenggara, Indonesia, has received the Top Award of Excellence from UNESCO in the 2012 UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards, announced in Bangkok on 27 August 2012.
This small and isolated village was recognized for its rebuilding of the traditional Mbaru Niang traditional house based on the spirit of community cooperation towards a sustainable tradition, while at the same time improving its village welfare.
Founder of the village and, therefore, their main ancestor who built the village some 100 years ago, was a man called Empu Maro. Today, the inhabitants are his 18th generation descendants.
Wae Rebo’s main characteristics are their unique houses, which they call Mbaru Niang that are tall and conical in shape and are completely covered in lontar thatch from its rooftop down to the ground. It appears that at one time such kind of houses were quite common to the region. But today, it is only this village that continues to maintain the typical Manggarai traditional house, without which these unique houses would have been completely fazed out.
The house has five levels, each level designated for a specific purpose. The first level, called lutur or tent, are the living quarters of the extended family. The second level, called lobo, or attic, is set aside to store food and goods, the third level called lentar is to store seeds for the next harvest, the fourth level called lempa rae is reserved for food stocks in case of draught, and the fifth and top level, called hekang kode, which is held most sacred, is to place offerings for the ancestors.
One special ceremonial house is the community building where members of the entire clan gather for ceremonies and rituals. They are predominantly Catholic but still adhere to old beliefs. In this house are stored the sacred heirloom of drums and gongs.
With a small population of around 1,200 inhabitants only, the village comprises 7 houses. The staple diet of villagers is cassava and maize, but around the village they plant coffee, vanilla, and cinnamon which they sell in the market, located some 15 km. away from the village. Lately, however, Wae Rebo has grown in popularity as a tourist destination for international ecotourism enthusiasts, and this has added to the economic welfare of the village. The people of Wae Rebo warmly welcome visitors who wish to see their village and experience their simple traditional life.
Interesting Things you need to know about Wae Rebo in Flores
The village of Wae Rebo in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara is like heaven above the clouds. It takes a struggle to reach this village. However, what you will get when you arrive at the location is certainly comparable to the journey taken. It is truly a beauty that is difficult to describe in words, a traditional village with towering thatched roofs in the middle of a stretch of green hills. Well, behind this beauty, it turns out that Wae Rebo Village has many interesting facts and things that you can find in this village.
Here are few interesting things you need to know about Wae Rebo.
One of the Highest Villages in Indonesia
Wae Rebo Village is included in the list of the highest villages in Indonesia. Located at an altitude of 1,200 meters above sea level (masl), Wae Rebo is often decorated with a thin fog every morning. This thin fog will slowly descend from the surrounding hills and cover the entire village with fog. Because of its location at this altitude, to reach Wae Rebo Village you have to do trekking for two to three hours through quite difficult terrain. It is recommended to hire a guide service as a guide and also try to spend the night at Wae Rebo in addition to enjoying its beauty longer, also to save energy for trekking again the next day.
The Village with Seven Main Houses
The traditional Mbaru Niang house in Wae Rebo Village is considered very rare and is located high up in the mountains. It has a fairly unique shape, which is like a cone barn and there are only seven of them. Each house is inhabited by six to eight families. Mbaru Niang consists of five floors with palm leaf roofs and covered by palm fiber. Every visitor who comes will be treated in a Mbaru Niang which is specially provided to welcome tourists who come on a trip. You will be given a banquet in the form of Flores Coffee as a welcome drink at Mbaru Niang! For those of you who want to spend the night, you can stay at Mbaru Niang. Complementary blankets and pillows have been provided.
Have a special day every November
Residents in Wae Rebo Village celebrate the Penti Traditional Ceremony, which is a celebration to express gratitude for the harvest that is obtained in a year and ask for harmony and protection. When the celebration is held, the residents will wear traditional clothes complete with accessories. For those of you who are planning to visit this village, you should match your schedule with this traditional ceremony so that the visit is more meaningful because you can see more attractions and values.
The people of Wae Rebo are of Minang descent
Although Wae Rebo is a village in West Manggarai, NTT, it turns out that the villagers claim that they are of Minang descent from West Sumatra. Empo Maro, Wae Rebo ancestor from Minangkabau who migrated to Flores and moved from place to place until finally settled in the area which is now Wae Rebo Village. Although they are of Minang descent, the names of the inhabitants are not like the names of most Minang people.
Flags Are Mounted Above Traditional Houses
During the Independence Ceremony Despite being isolated, Wae Rebo is still part of Indonesia. When Independence Day, there is always a ceremony to commemorate it. Uniquely, the residents of Wae Rebo will place the Indonesian flag on top of the cone-shaped traditional house during the flag ceremony. Several people helped each other to make sure the flag was standing firmly.
There is no cellphone signal
In the Village of Wae Rebo and suroundings, there is no cellphone signal or internet connections. So, never expect to share your moment right away to the world from Wae Rebo village.
Those are interesting things about Wae Rebo that you need to know. Being in a remote location doesn’t necessarily make this village empty of visitors. On the other hand, many tourists are willing to travel far away to enjoy the beauty of every corner of Wae Rebo Village.