Komodo National Park

Trip Start Sep 14, 2013
Trip End Dec 23, 2013

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Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Sunday, October 13, 2013

2 day 1 night with Flores Komodo Experience

Day 1 12.10.13

We met at 8am with the other couple from Switzerland and our guide for the trip and walked down to the harbour to catch our boat. Initially we were impressed by the boat before us, only to find out that our vessel was floating behind and we would just be passing through the pristine and well built deck to our sparse and very basic accommodation.

Trying to get on the the boats themselves was a challenge as they bobbed aggressively up and down and away from the jetty! Once underway with our small crew in what we would describe as a long wooden fishing boat with some home made awning acting as shelter on deck. It was after about 30 minutes we realised we had slowed down and then we could hear the hammering below deck and realised repairs were being made to one of the motors!! This went on for about an hour and meant we were running on one motor and therefore well behind the scheduled 2hr journey to Rinca Island.

Eventually we arrived at Rinca Island after 3.5 hrs and set off to meet the Ranger who would be giving us a tour of the island that along with the island of Komodo itself is home to the dragon. There are only a couple of fishing villages and the visitor centre on the island. Around the compound there are a few buildings and to our amazement a dozen dragons chilling out in the shade made by the buildings. As it was around mid day when we arrived the dragons were all very hot and feeling lazy and so it was possible to walk around them and take pictures in relative safety with the rangers.

We felt quite comfortable around them at Rinca and as they have plenty of food to catch on the island they were not too interested in us!!! Apparently though they do try to attack a tourist every day, although the rangers are quick to prevent any threatening behaviour from the dragons! All the rangers have a large forked stick that they use to try to hold the dragon back by the neck if they attack, although our ranger did say that sometimes they are so bloodthirsty and strong that it is so hard to stop them, and our ranger told us of 6 people who had been bitten on the island (but thankfully had survived). We made sure we stayed very close to our ranger at all times!

The dragons can grow up to 3m in length and on the two islands of Rinca and Komodo there are roughly 2,500 on each island. However as they are cannibals they can't be sure of exact numbers!!!

We took many pictures getting as close as the rangers would allow and after some time we went for a short trek of the island to see what other animals were about. Unfortunately due to the midday heat they knew better and apart from a few deer under the trees and some monkeys the only thing we witnessed was some amazing views from the ridge of the hills looking out to sea!

After the visit to Rinca we had some good food aboard the boat and headed out to a snorkelling point around the other side of the island at Pink Beach. We realised now that even with two engines our boat was by far the slowest of the half dozen tourist boats on similar route to us!! The strong currents and winds slowing us even more, we eventually anchored up some way out to sea from the island and did our best to snorkel in alien surroundings! The locals had exercised a bit of poetic license calling the bay 'Pink Beach' (the sand is supposedly pink because of the abundance of red coral in the sea there). It looked just like a normal yellow sandy beach, with a very slight tinge of pink near the far right hand shoreline if you squinted hard enough and the sun was shinning at the right angle on the right day of the year, then maybe!!!

Being dumped in the sea rather than wading out from the shore are very different experiences and as such Kevin was sent on a scouting mission before Julie would follow! Although the sea bed was visible the strong currents meant it was not the most comfortable experience, but with perseverance we managed to see some clown fish and other brightly coloured species. Nothing dangerous to our knowledge other than the fatigue from fighting the currents that were growing by the minute.

Having safely negotiated dragons and snorkelling we anticipated a pleasant sail to the destination to eat and sleep over. How wrong we were! The sea was choppy to say the least as apparently two seas collide in these waters. Well this causes mini whirl pools and on several occasions our captain sailed close by them. He sailed too close to a mini whirl pool at one point which caused the boat to turn almost 90 degrees in a split second!! Luckily the captain was able to steer us away from it but it was quite scary. We were very very happy to venture into calmer waters a little further on.

You would think that would be it and it almost was with the evening meal and setting down to sleep on the floor of the deck in relatively calm seas just off the coast of Komodo Island. However having managed to finally drift off to sleep we were woken in the middle of the night by the generator which allows the pump to work, removing the water from the hull as we tried to sleep. Then there were the cockroaches witnessed and the evidence of mice or rats that had bitten through our co-tourists bag and eaten their bread rolls during the night!!!

Day 2 13.10.13
Sometimes you wake up having slept like a baby, sometimes you wake up wondering if you actually had any sleep at all!!! However to see the sun rise over the islands and the sea was quite dramatic and then to find three dolphins swimming in the foreground meant the lack of sleep was soon forgotten!

It was only a short boat ride to the Komodo jetty and we knew that by being on the island at 6.30am gave us a better chance of seeing some different wild life.

We met our guide and planned our route to see the dragons towards the end of the trek. Hoping to see some in the forest we were lucky to see some smaller young dragons both under the forest trees and one even pitched up high keeping himself safe from other dragons. We also saw a wild boar running through the forest, a huge spider (the biggest we have ever seen!) and some crazy little lizards as well as cockatoos and owls all in the wild. We took in some more amazing views and ventured back to the sea front to find dragons resting under the trees.

We took pictures and the guide explained how from what appears to be a resting position they simply reposition their front legs and are ready to pounce, which is when they are most dangerous. Well when one repositioned itself and its eyes followed Kevin around we guessed it was time to leave!!!

Once back on our boat we again set sail at a slow pace and went looking at Manta point for Manta Rays. However despite some better snorkelling we were out of luck with the rays. We were soon thankful to be heading to dry land and after some even choppier seas than yesterday that caused the boat to rock violently and creak at every joint we made it back safely and on schedule. It was quite amazing to see the young crew member jumping into the sea and under the boats to check the ropes in the congested harbour and despite the slow and in some ways falling apart boat (no door on the very grim toilet!) the crew were very nice and our guide was as helpful as he could be.

Would we do it again?! Yes it was worth it to see the dragons and the experience was one that will stay in our memories.

Tips for the trip:
Tie your boat up without tangling the ropes up with several other boats. If you did not do this, then employ a young boy to dive in and risk his life to untangle them under your boat!

Don't go near Komodo Dragons if you have a cut or are menstruating, they can smell the blood for miles and will attack!

Cardboard boxes don't make good bins, especially when they have food in. Cockroaches and rats love this!

When the guide on the boat offers you a dirty red bucket and says it contains 'mineral water', don't drink it Kevin!!! It's for washing salty water off your body!
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