How long and how much to go from Lombok to Flores by the road ?
In July 2015 I was about to leave from Lombok to Flores and I got stranded in Mataram airport because of the eruption of Gunung Raung in east Java. So I decided to make my way through Sumbawa.
Overall, going from Lombok Airport to Labuan Bajo without any preparation costed me 395,000Rp and 17 hours. I’m quite sure you can arrange a similar and more relaxed trip for 250,000 maybe 300,000 from Mataram if you avoid agents and handle it on your own.
When I finally arrived in Sape, I saw adds on a building advertising trips by bus from Mataram to Bima for 200.000 Rp.
By the way, there was also the rate to go from Jakarta to Bima: 700,000 Rp…
Retrospectively I would go to Mataram bus station at 3 or 4pm and directly book the trip there. Just ask around where is the bus to Sape (or Bima), find the right one (the destination will be displayed on the windshield) talk to the driver and buy a ticket.
Otherwise you can do like I did. If you want do the trip by motorbike, that’s also what you’ll have to do.
Reaching Lombok Eastern harbor
So I was stranded in Mataram airport. I asked a few private drivers their price to go to the harbor [Pelabuan]. They told me 400,000Rp. Since I was alone I decided to go on my own. I didn’t bargain so if you are a group it might be convenient.
The place you wanna reach is Labuan Khayangan.
Some buses are waiting on your left when you exit the terminal (ask any airport staff). I took one to Masbaget for 30,000Rp. The driver was nice and helpful and told me where to step off the bus.
Once you are in Masbaget, find a transport to Labuan Kayangan, I was alone so I took a motorbike taxi (ojek). We agreed on 55,000Rp for the ride. The bus driver told me it costs 30,000Rp.
So now I was in the harbor. I went to the counter to buy a ticket to cross the straight to Sumbawa island. Some people told me to book a package ferry + bus. Price was 300,000Rp-250,000Rp. Later on I talked to a security agent and he told me it should cost me 150,000Rp.
I trusted my experience and bought only the ferry ticket: 20,000Rp (more if you wanna embark your motorbike or your car on the ferry). I thought there would be a bus station at the harbor with many buses on standby.
While waiting the ferry (departures are in the morning and late in the afternoon) I ate a nice meal on some street restaurant in front of the harbor. Total damage 40,000Rp.
After the ferry docks, it takes at least 30min to disembark and then load the cargo. The crossing lasts about 1 hour.
So I realized once in Sumbawa harbor that there was no bus on standby and I had to find a seat in the night bus to arrive in the harbor from Lombok early in the evening (7pm in my case) … Hence my remark, book your full trip from Lombok.
I asked a guy from the harbor to stop the right bus for me. It’s more like a minivan with 10 or 15 seats. I talk a bit with the driver and pays him 200,000Rp to take me to Bima. Since it was the only bus on sight, I didn’t bargain. A young Indonesian took a seat next to me in the same time, he later told me he paid 150,000Rp.
Since you’re driving at night you cannot see anything from the outside. Expect a classic Indonesian bus experience: driver goes full speed, stops every 20 kilometers, embarks new passengers or cargo, delivers some packages on the road …
You arrive in Bima around 3am (one stop to eat around 10pm). I discovered I had to wait until 5am another bus for Sape. Bus eventually left around 5:30am. Again don’t expect a relaxing trip: I did mine between a metal cage with a rooster inside and 50kg of shallots.
Boat to Labuan Bajo
I finally arrived in Sape around 7:30am. Went straight to the counter to buy my ticket (60,000Rp more if you’re bringing a vehicle).
I embarked the boat around 8am and we left around 11:30am. The crossing takes about 5h30 depending on the weather.
I was quite exhausted so I slept during almost all the crossing. The view of Komodo islands might be nice. I woke up a few miles from the harbor.
Again, I strongly advise you to consider the plane. But if you have time, you’re on a budget or wanna bring a vehicle it’s totally possible.