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Located only 17km from Labuan Bajo, Melo is an excellent choice for travelers in search of a distinct Manggaraian cultural experience. A half-day visit to Melo offers a range of village-based tourism activities, exciting cultural art performances such as the traditional bamboo pole jumping game ‘Tetek Alu’, the ‘Ndundu Dake’ dance, and the well-known Caci performances. The cultural cooperative of Compang To’e will be eager to receive you with a warm traditional welcome ceremony.
The Melo experience also gives you time to lie back and digest your impressions in the ‘Panorama’ Hut, which is the cooperative’s headquarters. This bamboo building is the perfect place to have a cup of Flores coffee or a sip of sopi, the traditional Florinese palm liquor. The friendly villagers can even show you the process of making sopi from the sap of the aren palm.
As the name of the hut already implies, a spectacular all-around view over the sea, the islands of Komodo National Park, as well as the surrounding hills and mountains, is waiting for you. At sunset, this panorama turns into a heavenly spectacle of multi-shaded landscape silhouettes that you should not miss.
Caci is more than just a traditional performance; it is a major element of Manggaraian cultural identity and an important part of ceremonial life. Being a unique aesthetic delight for spectators, Caci performances are an attraction to overseas as well as domestic visitors to Manggarai.
In Kampung Melo (kampung means ‘village’ in Indonesian), visitors have the opportunity to enjoy a Caci performance organized by Compang To’e cooperative. For a fee of Rp 1,000,000, you are invited to a traditional ceremony where guests are served sopi, the local palm wine, before joining the Caci performance. The wine cups are made out of coconut shells – one of the many vigilant details that gives the visitor an idea of traditional Manggaraian daily life.
You have the option of staying overnight in the hut, by way of some donation. A simple squat toilet for visitors is also available.
How to get there
Melo Village is located about 17km or approximately 40 minutes from Labuan Bajo. It’s advisable to rent a motorbike or ask for a local ojek (motorbike taxi) to drive you there. Another option is to take a small minibus Labuan Bajo-Ruteng. You need to find the way to the Transflores ‘highway’ in the direction of Ruteng where the road will pass through Merombok, Nggorang, Dalong, and Mamis. Most of the road will be winding and ascending at a higher altitude. Be sure you look to the left side to pick out a gate made from bamboo with some coconut leaves dangling from it.