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Published: August 31st 2014
The two islands of Komodo Island and Rinca Island are home to over 2000 Komodo dragons. The two islands are quite far away from Bali, but can be reached from the town of Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores.
I joined a tour which left from the dust swept fishing/tourist town of Labuan Bajo at around 8am. I paid around $125 with an extra $10 for renting snorkel equipment. I boarded a boat with three other Italian women. The boat had a three person crew who had a deep love of loud thumping club music and Indonesian ballads.
The first part of the journey consisted of a two hour cruise on the emerald green and blue waters. Our first stop was Rinca Island. At the entrance to the park we were greeted by a female dragon who was around a metre in length. She stayed in the shade and slowly trudged around a hut trying to get a sense for food with her fork tongue, but then slowly walked off into the thicket nearby. We bought our entrance tickets and camera pass for around $15. Our guide greeted us and instructed us to stick to the route.
The trail took us to a nest which had a female dragon guarding it. Life for a young Komodo can be extremely precarious because Komodos can be cannibalistic. Fortunately, young Komodos are able to climb trees and hide from the larger, predatory dragons. Shortly after we walked into the hills, saw a number of buffaloes, and admired the wonderful view of the bay surrounding the island. After enjoying the vista, we returned towards the ranger station where we were greeted by six dragons who had splayed themselves out under the kitchens of the ranger station. Our guide informed us that the Komodos had eaten recently and could be full for a month.
We departed Rinca Island at around lunch and went towards Komodo Island. There we stopped at a pink beach and did some snorkelling amongst the vibrant and lucid underwater life. The waters around the island are famous for their rich abundance of tropical fish, rays, dolphins, and sometimes sharks. Observing the corral and vibrantly coloured fish was a fantastic experience. The pink beach, named because of the pink sand, was also very attractive and unique. After snorkelling, we went to a nearby island and anchored for the
night. We had dinner on the boat, which tasted distinctly of nasty, cheap gasoline, which wash’t so nice.
We woke early the next day at around 6 and disembarked on Komodo island. Komodo Island was similar to Rinca, but there was a larger amount of dead wood, which was more ideal for the Komodo’s in terms of camouflage. As we trawled around the island, the situation was still much the same as on Rinca, the dragons we saw were full with food, lying on the ground. At the end of the trail though the dragons were more lively. One male dragon was prowling around, using his fork tongue to get a feel for any nearby edible items. The dragon clocked me and slowly trudged towards my position. It’s slow speed and shuffling motion across the scrub land was not unnerving and I felt quite calm. However, our guide had made us aware that the dragons could swiftly hunt prey at 20 kmph. Their method of killing is to bite the animal and use its bacterial saliva to slowly cause the animal - usually a buffalo or deer - to die. The bacterial infection could cause a two week agonising
period of death.
After observing the dragons near the ranger station, I also came across another cheeky fellow who was perched on the steps of one of the village’s dining areas. He idly scouted the general area for food, but didn’t seem to be champing at the bit.
On our way back to Flores, we stopped at another area popular for snorkelling, which was nice. However, quite a lot of the coral had been broken by people standing on it, which was a shame. After a two hour boat ride, we returned to Labuan Bajo, with our ears ringing thanks to the boys on the boat blasting their hedonistic club music.
Overall, it’s a great trip. The Komodos are fascinating creatures and the emerald green and blue waters are wonderful. My only advice for older travellers would be to try and find a boat that would be a bit quieter and that won’t serve food tinged with the wrenching scent of gasoline.
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