One of the best aspects of Google’s Chromecast is the outstanding array of images in its ambient mode, which serves as a wallpaper slideshow. The photographs primarily feature outdoor locations or wildlife, allowing the wanderlusting individual stuck indoors to sample virtually the planet’s riches. Google has no monopoly on this sort of collection. Microsoft has provided gorgeous wallpapers for decades, and the company’s Bing search engine sports an image of the day. Computers and televisions that function on the Windows platform have access to their version of Chromecast’s ambient mode.

In addition to pleasing the eyes, the photos can be quite educational, exposing one to unknown gems.

Bing’s image of the day for 24 June 2024 was one such double treasure. This spot is not only winsome but touts fascinating geology and mythology.

Kelimutu - © Shane P. White/Minden Pictures

The image above comes from above Kelimutu, a volcano on the Indonesian island of Flores.

Rising 5,377 feet (1,639 meters) over the nearby Savu Sea, Kelimutu is one of the 270 ribus or 115 spesials in Indonesia, depending on the source. In Indonesia, ribu means “thousand.” Some sources indicate this name designates all the mountains in the nation that reach 1,000 meters in height, while others require 1,000 meters of prominence. Kelimutu fulfills the first requirement but not the second. If it does not constitute a ribu, it would certainly be dubbed one of the spesials, crags that don’t garner the proper prominence but maintain exceptional significance to tourists, geologists, or historians.

Kelimutu's location on Indonesia's Flores Island - graphic by Sadalmelik and Elekhh

Kelimutu draws hordes of visitors not for its eruptions but for its summit lakes. The trio of waterways, despite their proximity, feature different water colors!

The volcano is active, though not necessarily eruptive. Each of the lakes is connected to fumaroles, vents that spout volcanic gases. Depending on rainfall and the amount of gas that leaks from each vent, the oxidation-reduction status of the water oscillates, prompting a change in the observable hue.

The westernmost lake – Tiwu Ata Bupu – is usually some shade of blue. Even though the other two bodies are separated by a shared wall, they do not necessarily have the same color fill. Tiwu Ko’o Fai Nuwa Muri is typically green and Tiwu Ata Polo red! The colors are not static, sometimes changing many times in a year.

Photo from Smithsonian Institution via

These variations make the lakes of Kelimutu particularly interesting for volcanologists, but they also play a central role in the culture of the native Lio people.

The names of the lakes are rather pragmatic, at least when it comes to the religious beliefs of the area. Tiwu Ata Bupu means “Lake of Old People,” while Tiwu Ko’o Fai Nuwa Muri translates to “Lake of Young Men and Maidens,” and Tiwu Ata Polo denotes “Bewitched Lake.” When someone dies, the Lio believe the departed soul relocates to Kelimutu. When someone elderly dies, their soul goes to Tiwu Ata Bupu, which is populated by cold, blue water. Younger souls end up in Tiwu Koo Fai Nuwa Muri, where the water is warmer and green. Crooked, evil souls end up in the fiery, red waters of Tiwu Ata Polo.

Yearly on August 14, the Lio participate in a ceremony called “Feed the Spirit of the Forefathers,” offering gifts to those who preceded them in death.

The nearby lakes at the peak, temporarily sharing a green shade - photo by LukeTriton
Kelimutu on an Indonesian bank note
Different-hued neighbors - photo by Neil

The government of Indonesia protected the volcano and its surrounding peaks with a national park, named for the triple-laked mountain. One does not need to wait until the afterlife to visit the colorful waters of Indonesia, just take a visit to Kelimutu National Park.

Or, gaze from afar, thanks to Bing.

Further Reading and Exploration

Kelimutu – Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program


Color and temperature of the crater lakes at Kelimutu volcano through time – Bulletin of Volcanology

The geochemistry of the Keli Mutu crater lakes, Flores, Indonesia by Pasternack and Varekamp

Kelimutu National Park – Lonely Planet

Lake Kelimutu, A Perfect Place for Exploring the Extraordinary – Wonderful Indonesia

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