Snake Palace Cave : Unique Snakes of West Flores Inland Near Lembor Manggarai

The snake palace – “Istana Ular” located in a river valley 7 km north-east of Lembor is the shared home to reticulated pythons and bats. Pythons and thousand of bats are residing in the cave. Visitors have a good chance to observe snakes in the river valley and around the cave entrance area.

This excursion is recommended for adventurous visitors who are interested in snakes.

General Information:
* The snake valley provides a unique opportunity to see snakes in their natural habitat. Because of its location this excursion is only recommended to reasonably fit and adventurous visitors. Moderately challenging, this destination offers good trekking in a remote and rarely visited area of West Flores

* The relationship of pythons residing in the snake cave with the local population is shrouded in historical fact intermixed with mythical tales

* Located 70 km east of Labuan Bajo, the final 40 minutes hike to the valley covers challenging geography

* Under no circumstances should visitors undertake snake valley excursion without the services of an experienced tour guide

* This excursion can not be undertaken in periods of heavy rainfall since the crossing of the river will be impossible/too dangerous

Health risks:
* Any native animal can carry disease or cause injury if not treated properly. Bats are known to carry Australian Bat Lyssavirus and may also carry antibodies to Hendra virus. Under no circumstances should you attempt to enter the cave.

Safety Notes:
* This is a culturally and environmentally sensitive area. Always secure an experienced guide from the local village to bring you to the valley and follow all instructions he provides you with

* Pythons and other snakes in the valley are potentially dangerous and should only be approached in the presence of an experienced guide

* The snakes, bats and their cave home are held in great regard by the local villagers and, as a result, no visitor should attempt to disturb the cave or its wild inhabitants

How to get there:
* “Istana Ular” is located approximately 70 km east of Labuan Bajo;
* Travel by rental car with guide and driver;
* By local bemo (local bus) to Lembor, from there by Ojek (motorbike taxi)

Follow the main road from Labuan Bajo to Ruteng until reaching Lembor after 63 km. Continue on the same road for another 4.7 km until you see a cobble-stone road branching off to the left: Follow that road (see map) until you arrive at the river. Cross the bridge and follow the road uphill until the top of the ridge. Park your vehicle here and prepare for the hike. Remember: do not disturb the snakes and do not enter the cave to avoid health risk.

By local transport: Take a bus to Lembor and continue by Ojek (motorbike taxi) to the top of the ridge after the first river bank and the starting point of the trek to the valley.

Practical Travel Tips for ‘’Istana Ular’’:
* The area is remote and undeveloped for visitors
* Because there are no restaurants, bring along your own food and water from Labuan Bajo

Visitor’s code of conduct:
The community surrounding Istana Ular has established a code of conduct to help visitors respect and sustain their delicate traditional culture and natural environment.

You are asked to please accept the following “code of conduct” when visiting the snake valley:
* Please dress conservatively. Indonesian’s show respect for each other by paying careful attention to dress and grooming. Please avoid wearing short pants, short skirts, sleeveless blouses, or low-cut or transparent clothing in social settings

* Please do not hand out sweets, money, or toys to children. No matter how well-intentioned, such behavior teaches children to beg, encourages potentially dangerous commercial relationships between children and predatory adults, and destroys the general discipline in the villages

* If you would like to take a photo of people or their personal property, please be polite and ask permission beforehand. Local villages would be thrilled if you make the effort to send copies of the photos to them later

* Please do not wander around local villages and lands unaccompanied. Community members are happy to act as escorts during your visit

* Please help to keep the villages and traditional lands clean. Place make sure that you take home all waste

* Please do not harm or destroy cultural artifacts, local facilities, or our flora & fauna.

* Do not enter the cave to avoid the risk of contracting a disease from a bat

* Under no circumstances, are the snakes or other animals around the valley to be molested or disturbed

* We ask our visitors to behave with discretion: Please refrain from public displays of affection, and use enclosed facilities for your toilet and bathing necessities


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