Getting to the foot of the trek up to the village of Wae Rebo is an experience in itself. First off, you need to be on the island of Flores, Indonesia and then from the port town of Labaun Bajo it's a good few hours on roads designed more for 4x4s. Doesn't sound too bad, unless you're on a moped..
Exhausting and the trek hasn't started yet!
The village itself is in a beautiful setting, tucked up in the the hills and after a sweaty hike the cool mountain air was a welcome break from the heat of Indonesia.
In Wae Rebo village there's seven traditional huts forming a semi circle around the alter in front of the main hut. We were welcomed to the village, invited in to the main hut and participated in a village ritual where the village elder welcomes you, offers thanks to their ancestors and invites you into the Wae Rebo family.
Each hut has multiple levels inside and houses multiple families. The main hut housed eight families, an open living space for cooking and eating and multiple storage levels for food storage, the top level reserved for a shrine to the ancestors.
Traditionally the village has made its money from farming, carrying the heavy loads down the hill and then selling them, whilst this does continue to this day, tourism to the village has grown. The villages now also sell their own coffee beans, picked, dried and roasted right there in Wae Rebo, and it's pretty good!
We stayed in one of the traditional huts overnight, ate wonderful food cooked by the villagers, enjoyed the experience, the surroundings and that feeling of experiencing something that has changed very little in over 1200 years.
Wae Rebo is a UNISECO world heritage site on the island of Flores, Indonesia.
From bridges to sunglasses, bamboo is the most renewable resource in the world, however the villagers of Wae Rebo weren't sure they'd be able to make their own sunglasses any time soon; I think they'll leave that to us.
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