EAST MANGGARAI – For those who have traveled to Flores through the road from Labuan Bajo to Ende or vice versa, you must have passed the verdant forest area of Poco Ranaka and Mandosawu. They are part of the conservation forest of Ruteng Natural Tourism Park, which covers forest area in two regencies namely Manggarai and East Manggarai as wide as 32,248ha. Hidden behind the trees and mist that always surrounds the forest especially in the evening, a vast and exotic lake that will amaze everyone who sees it.
It is Lake Rana Mese which means big lake in local language. In Manggarai language, Rana means lake and Mese means big or vast. The lake covers an area of 5ha. It is surrounded by forest area and steep walls as deep as 5 to 100 meters from the sea surface so that it looks like huge crater of volcano. Probably, thousands or millions of years ago, there was volcano eruption which created the lake crater. It is considering that Mount Ranaka and Nampar Nos which are located in this forest area had erupted in 1987 and still active until now. Although the walls around the lake are quite steep, they can still be used as tracking route so that visitors can walk around and enjoy the beauty of the lake.
Lake Rana Mese is one of the life-supports for thousands of people living around the lake. It is also the source of water for drinking and irrigation for thousands of hectares of rice field found in the surrounding areas. Furthermore, it is also the habitat for various ecosystems such as fish, eel, shrimp and crab.
Lake Rana Mese has lush tropical forest that surrounds the lake, which makes the surrounding air cool and fresh. Not only diversity of tropical flora, the lake also offers diversity of underwater biota like freshwater fish Karper (Cyprinus Carpio), Mujair (Oreochromis Mossambicus), eel and shrimp. Forest area around the lake becomes habitat for several species of big mammal such as monkey (Macaca Fascicularis), porcupine (Hystrix Javanica), boar (Suscrofa Vitatus ) and civet (Paradixurus Hermaproditus ) and a number of migrant birds like belibis (Anas Querquedula) and Pecuk (Phalacrocorax Malanoleucos) as well as endemic mammals like giant mouse (Papagomys Armandrillarei), Poco Ranaka Rat (Rattus Haenaldi), Flores Bat (Chypnoterus Nusa Tenggara) and Flores owl (Otus Alfredi).
TERRITORY WAR AMONG FAIRIES
People live around Lake Rana Mese have another name for it, Molas Poco, which means the forest girl. It refers to the beauty of the lake. It is also euphemism for beautiful fairies that are believed to reside in the lake. In accordance to legend, long time ago the fairies in Lake Rana Mese were friend with humans. They asked for help from humans to fight against other fairies that lived in Lake Rana Hembok, which is located in the east of Lake Rana Mese. They fought to expand the territory. Lake Rana Hembok used to be wider than Lake Rana Mese.
The weapons used by fairies from Rana Hembok in the war were shrimp and eel which served as knife and spear. Therefore, it was very easy for humans to defeat the fairies since those animals were just delicious side dishes for humans. After being defeated, Lake Rana Hembok turned into small lake and Lake Rana Mese became wide lake just like now. The truth of this legend is still a mystery, but Lake Rana Mese is indeed beautiful just like beautiful fairies hiding behind green trees and thin mist, which is always hanging on the surface of water.
Lake Rana Mese and forest in its surrounding area is exciting tourist spot. It is one of main tourist destinations in East Manggarai, which offers stunning natural panorama that should not be missed. Sitting at the lake bank and fishing freshwater fish are activities commonly done by tourists visiting the lake.
Since it is situated in forest area, the air in Lake Rana Mese is quite cold, which can reach 15°C especially in the evening and at night. Many visitors are amazed by the diversity of flora and fauna found in forest area around the lake. To enjoy this beautiful scenery, all you need to do is walking around the lake. You will be presented with the beauty of rare forest orchid and migrant birds. If you are not into walking, sailing around the lake on small boat will be interesting activity to choose.
So, if you are interested to visit Flores, East Manggarai Regency in particular, don’t forget to drop by Lake Rana Mese and enjoy the beautiful natural panorama there. (*)