D115 - There be dragons!

Trip Start Aug 07, 2013
Trip End Jan 12, 2014

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Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Friday, November 29, 2013

Not too bad 6am rise, we don't have far to go for our boat just the beach in front of the pool. We walk down about 6.50 and Adam is waiting for a call from his two other day trippers. We get in his smaller boat and he drives along the beach to their hotel where he picks up two ladies, he then transfers us to his bigger fast-boat that's mored a bit offshore in deeper water. The sea is flat calm and it's a really good run, every now and then we come to some rough sea in places like whirl pools where strong currents meet, this area is renown for dangerous currents.
The scenery is incredible there are so many islands you're not sure where the larger island of Flores ends and the smaller islands start, you could easily get lost here in a boat. Much of it is part of the Komodo National Park and so there are only a small number of fishings villages permitted. Komodo is the largest of the smaller islands and we approach at speed, then pull up at this long concrete jetty, Adam then walks the four of us to the ranger station, there is only one other live aboard boat moored.

Our fellow travellers are probably also in their fifties and old school friends meeting up, Linda is Indonesian and lives in Jakarta and Minda is part Korean part Japanese but lives in Paris. Very interesting and funny lovely ladies.

At the ranger station there are again more staff than visitors, entry fee is 230,000 (£13) which includes camera permit and guide. We have a choice of trails for our guided trek into the wilds of Komodo and the four of us opt for the medium challenge which should take about an hour.
We set off with our guide armed with just his big stick......it's now about 8.30 and already get very hot in a very dry rugged landscape. We don't see any dragons at the first waterhole we past on the hot trek, but it's the anticipation that keeps you going. We visit another tree covered area where they might be spotted but not this time, their main source of food, deer, are all sat around keeping cool. These have been introduced to the island along with buffalo for the dragons.

There are many palm trees dying or dead as young dragons burrow into the trees once they hatch and leave the next and live in the tree for 3 years to stay away from the adults who now see them as prey.

Our trek takes us up over a fairly steep hill where there is a great view of the bay and forest.
On our way down the other side Ian ends up helping Minda, who is not too confident on the rocky slopes, he's bit worried because he would usually be helping me but her need is greater and I copes pretty well.
As we get back to the beach area we see our first dragon just strolling along the beach in front of us. As we follow it we see two more, they are very 'big'. The first one just wanders off into the camp where there are now a few more visitors around.
It starts to rain and everyone runs up some steps and makes for a large sheltered area, they all completely miss the three very large dragons by the steps keeping cool underneath the area which is about three foot off the ground. Ian calls me but it's now raining so hard its difficult to take pictures.
Ian then spots a really large dragon in the open by the side, he calls me and i get some great shots. Ian then walks down the steps and about ten metres from the shelter where there are six very large dragons. They really are huge and very prehistoric lizards.
Our tour finishes at the usual wood carving gift stalls then we make our way back to the boat and are looking forward to some snorkelling. We had booked for our trip to go to the pink beach and manta point for snorkelling.

We stop at pink beach, so called because of the amount of red coral out to sea that when it's ground and washed ashore it gives a pink tinge to the beach.
The snorkelling is fantastic and we both really enjoy the swimming around for awhile.
Back on the boat we move off again, it's awhile before we realise that we may be going straight back to Labuhan Bajo. Ian asks about manta point, but Adams forgot, Ian's not happy because we were hoping to snorkel with some rays and we wont get another chance to come.
As it's to late he offers to take us to another beach, but we don't fancy that so he offers us some money back. Its not really the point Ian would have loved to have a chance for me to see some manta rays.
It's now the middle of the afternoon and we are both very hungry, so we jump on the bike and ride into town and go to La Cusina, to watch a fantastic sunset, they also serve the best bruschetta.
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