Lake Kelimutu or ‘the three colored lake’ is three crater lakes of mount Kelimutu located on Flores Island, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. The three crater lakes are a haunting—and possibly haunted—sight. Considered to be the resting place for departed souls, the lakes are locally referred to as “the lake of old people,” “the lake of young men and maidens,” and “the lake of evil spirits.” Bizarrely, all three lakes change color dramatically and unpredictably, from blue or green to black or red. Reaching the popular sight requires a long drive on a steep and winding road.


The Kelimutu volcano contains three striking summit crater lakes of varying colors. Tiwu Ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People) is usually blue and is the westernmost of the three lakes. The other two lakes, Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Bewitched or Enchanted Lake) are separated by a shared crater wall and are typically green or red respectively. The lake colors vary on a periodic basis. Subaqueous fumaroles are the probable cause of active upwelling that occurs at the two eastern lakes.

Lake-Kelimutu-Flores-Indonesia-photo-1The lakes have been a source of minorphreatic eruptions in historical time. Thesummit of the compound 1639-m-high Kelimutu volcano is elongated two km in a WNW-ESE direction; the older cones of Kelido and Kelibara are located respectively three km to the north and two km to the south. The scenic lakes are a popular tourist destination.


Kelimutu is also of interest to geologists because the three lakes are different colors yet are at the crest of the same volcano. According to the local officer at Kelimutu National Park, the colour changes as a result of chemical reactions resulting from the minerals contained in the lake perhaps triggered by volcano gas activity.


The visitor is never quite sure what color the lakes will be when they reach the top as they vary significantly. Unlike other crater lakes where the color variation can be predicted, this is not the case with these three lakes.  The colors you see here are blue, green and black (and they predominate) yet the lakes also change to white, red and blue too.