In the Land of Dragons
Trip Start Apr 26, 2013
37Trip End Dec 20, 2013
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Welcome to the land of Dragons! Since I was a little kid I have always wanted to come and see a Komodo Dragon in the wild. It's been a life long dream for both of us and it has just been checked off the bucket list!
We arrived in Flores after a brief flight from Denpasar (Kuta). After a taxi ride into the port we found ourselves a steal of a deal in a local guest house. So local in fact that it was mainly full of locals with a few thrifty backpackers thrown in for good measure. If you go looking for it you might never find it as it is located underneath the local Mediterranean restaurant. Go figure!
We knew we were going to be heading to Komodo to see the dragons but we needed to figure out how. You can't really stay on the island so it's a matter of cruising out on a live aboard or day tripping from Flores. Well, since my Visa card was shut down due to a Cluster Frack over at Bank of America there would be no shelling out for a live aboard. Thanks for nothing Bank of America. So, with the cash we had in hand we set out to explore the Island and the Dragons and the deep. It would be tight but we aren't going to let those Pricks over at Bank of America ruin our day. They have already wasted 4 days of our time and counting. Assholes.
First stop was a stop in at Dive Komodo. We signed up for 3 days of diving to be followed by a day at Komodo National Park. Woot! The crew over at Dive Komoto were easy to deal with and though they had boat issues the first day they kept us diving. We only had one issue with a local dive master which was sucky. Basically he left us behind on a drift dive while he went of chasing Manta rays for prize money. Dick. Needless to say we didn't dive with him anymore but had some great time underwater. On our last day diving Rae almost shit her wetsuit. Seems strong current diving with low visibility is not her cup of tea. I find I have no love for it either but it was good experience.Our first dive at the site the current was so strong we missed our first dive site. Man, it was churning! The second time we tried again when the current died down a bit but it was still strong and the result was only a few white tip sharks, a minor panic attack and beat up coral from people holding on to it in the current. Scary as it was, Rae knocked it out like a trooper though I could clearly hear her cursing through her regulator 20 meters underwater.
On our last day it was time to check off the bucket list. We hopped a boat over to Komodo National Park for the day and came face to face with the prehistoric past. Komodo National Park is a World Heritage Site and the home of the world famous Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis), one of the deadliest creatures on the planet. Even a small nip can kill a human slowly and painfully and they can smell carrion as far away as 6 miles. A few of the guides have been bitten by the dragons which have serrated teeth that shred flesh. If not treated immediately a bit can cause a very painful death. And we got to hang out with them!
We spent several hours watching the Dragons and walking around the sanctuary. We were shown where they nest and hunt and were often trailed by a back of local monkeys but the thieving devils never came too close. I remember you guys from Ubud! These things are huge! Watching them lumber through the woods lends a false sense of security as they are capable of quick bursts of speed. Our guide spoke very good English and was well versed in both history and biology. It was cool listening to him go back and forth with Rachel about lizard biology. Sadly, the tour was over before I knew it and it was time to head out. Our tour included a boxed lunch and a brief snorkeling trip and though the lunch was tasty our only reason for being there were Dragons.
So we cut the snorkeling short and headed back to Flores to pack our gear and head to our local, The Lounge, for a sundown toast to the land of Dragons.....
Tips on Komodo:
So, to save you the hassle of finding your way to Komodo from places like Gili T allow us to enlighten you to the things the locals don't seem to know or won't tell you.
1. Live aboard tours leaving from the Gili's and other locals are only one way, especially the budget ones. A very few tours will take you back but they are buku expensive and are more of a waste of time if you have a limited amount of it.
2. Unless you are dirt poor don't bother with the budget live aboard. Spend a little extra and get the included diving package. Trust us, it pans out in the end.
3. Once you get to Flores (the main port where all the live aboards end) find yourself a room under a Mediterranean restaurant and either pop into a local travel agent and book a flight back to Kuta or Lombok or track one down on line. It's that simple.
4. When booking a flight to or from Komodo you must book your flight between 24-48 hours in advance if you want to pay online. The local carriers will not accept online payments last minute and you will have to go to a local tour guide to pay with a credit card to book last minute flights. It never hurts to book ahead during high season as the flights will fill up.
5. Flying to Flores and booking your live aboard there will save you $$$$. Boats wait till all spot are full before setting sail and if there are empty spaces prices will fall to fill these spots. This is really helpful if you have a flexible schedule.
6. There is a fee to enter the park and to pay for a guide. If you can avoid it pay on site and not in advance.
7. Never never never rely on Bank of America to have your back, especially when you are on the other side of the world with limited access to phone and internet. They have no reliable plan for resolving issues outside of the U.S. and their customer service is atrocious. Jerks.
And above all, enjoy yourself. Your in paradise for gods sake!