Ruteng, capital of the district of Manggarai, in the western part of the island of Flores, is a pleasant, busy town backed by a range of mountains. Located some 1,200 meters above sea level the air is cool. Surrounding the town are green rice fields that provide the staple for the population on this predominantly dry island. Coffee grown around here is also most invigorating.
Ruteng is some 4 hours drive from Labuan Bajo, the town where tourists take boats to visit the habitat of the famous Komodo dragons on the islands of Komodo and Rinca or go diving in this National Park.
It is from Ruteng that the Catholic mission spread to convert many of the islanders, building many missionary schools, so that Flores today is indeed predominantly Catholic.
As capital city of Manggarai, Ruteng still maintains an equilibrium between the ancient and the modern. Most people visit Ruteng either at the start of their journey across Flores, or at the end. Here most facilities are available, accommodation though modest are clean and good, and shops are well stocked. Internet also works here.
Ruteng originated from a small village, and the story goes that it emerged from the heart of Compang Ruteng, or Ruteng Pu’u. This is a village that still exists until today and travelers go there to see the remaining original house of the Manggaraian and a compang, a stone altar that is the center of the village. A compang is a sacred place, where the ancestors are believed to live, while all the houses encircle it concentrically. Observe the locals who live as an agricultural community. Agricultural products found here are coffee, copra, candlenut, cloves, and cacao.