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The Tri-Colored Crater Lakes of Kelimutu, Indonesia

Kelimutu is a small, but well-known volcano in central Flores Island of Indonesia, close to the small town of Moni about 50 km to the east of Ende. At the summit of the volcano there are three crater lakes of varying colors. Although they share the crest of the same volcano and are practically side-by-side, the lakes periodically change colors from red and brown to turquoise and green, independent of each other.

The peculiar colors and thick mist surrounding the volcano have earned Kelimutu a supernatural reputation. Local villages believe that the spirits of the dead go to rest in one of the lakes based upon the deeds performed on Earth. Consequently, the lakes are named Tiwi Ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People), Tiwu Nua Muri Kooh Tai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Lake of Evil Sprits, or Enchanted Lake).


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It is believed that the lakes change colors as a result of chemical reactions resulting from the minerals contained in the lake perhaps triggered by volcano gas activity.

The scenic lakes are a popular tourist destination and have been the source of minor phreatic eruptions in historical time. They were once featured on the rupiah - the national currency of Indonesia.


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