Here Be Dragons
Trip Start Dec 26, 2013
107Trip End Aug 05, 2014
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Dennis and I flew from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo on the afternoon of January 15 (Day 21). We checked in at our charming and spacious (and cheap!) bungalow up in the hilltops above the town. We then wandered down to town to explore a bit and get
We left before 7 a.m. on January 16 for our day of scuba diving. I know I'm no expert, having only scuba dived at one other location prior to these dives, but I can't imagine better diving. The visibility was phenomenal, the diversity of marine life impressive, and the abundance of flashy animals like octopus and sea turtles caused me to overexcite and use oxygen more quickly than I should. We did two dives in the morning, then the dive operators provided a delicious buffet lunch of Indonesian food while we made our way to Rinca Island, part of Komodo National Park.
We saw a dragon almost as soon as we entered the park, ambling slowly through a field--and we were glad it was ambling, because the world's largest lizards (about 8
We saw 10 dragons total, in a variety of sizes. The second-to-last dragon we saw was a full-grown male, and he was enormous. He was right next to the trail, so we got pretty close to him, and I was completely awe-struck by his size and appearance. They are just such cool and utterly imposing creatures. To see Komodo dragons on one of the four islands in the world that they inhabit (there are fewer than 6,000 left in the wild) was an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience. This is what I was most excited about in Indonesia, and it did not disappoint. The last Komodo dragon that we saw started running (at a distance), and he could definitely book it. Time to leave the island!
Unfortunately, perhaps because of the rain in the afternoon and evening of January 16, the harbor master barred all boats from leaving Labuan Bajo on January 17. Dennis and I had booked another day of scuba diving, and we were going to Manta Point to see manta rays, which would have been another remarkable experience. Our diving guides took us to one of the places to see mantas on our first dive on January 16, but we struck out. Manta Point is supposed to be the best place to see them, though, and the people on our boat who had been to Manta Point the day before had seen five mantas. We left our hotel before 7 a.m. again to get to the dive shop on the morning of January 17, very excited about going out to see manta rays, and received the bad news that no boats could leave.
We trudged back up the hill to our hotel, where other guests gradually came back from town, as well, all with the same bad news that their trips had been canceled. Though very disappointed, we mainly are so relieved that we saw Komodo dragons on our first day. We wouldn't have gotten to see them if we had planned to visit Komodo National Park on January 17. We probably would have tried to change our return flights to Bali if that had been the case.
As much as I would have loved to see manta rays, we accomplished all that we set out to do in Labuan Bajo: enjoy some world-class scuba diving and visit the Komodo dragons. A day of total rest, even if unintended, is good for us to have every now and then on this trip. We tend to go-go-go and aren't great at scheduling down time for ourselves, so maybe the canceled scuba trip was actually blessing in disguise.
Cat Tally: 11--and I got to hold two of them in my lap!