I flew from Bali to the small city of Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores. This is the gateway to the 3 islands of the Komodo National Park. My trip to Komodo also completes my adventures in what I consider to be the best 3 areas of primary rainforest in Indonesia: Tangkoko: Tarsier Territory and Bukit Lawang: Planet of the Apes
Once at Labuan Bajo, travellers must arrange transportation over the water to Rinca, which is the most natural habitat for the Komodo dragons. There is a charge for all visitors of 20,000 Rupiahs per person for entry to the park, and on top of that, you will need to pay 50,000 Rupiahs for a camera permit. Prices can rise to three times this amount if you plan to make videos during your time here, but as I have a digital camera that can do both (not the huge professional stuff with tripods), I just bluffed my way into paying the cheaper option! Also be aware that guides cost around 80,000 Rupiah but this is a necessary expenditure, as you may not return alive without one!
The Komodo National Park is also a great place to do some world-class PADI diving, especially at Kanawa Island, although I didn’t dive myself as I was there for the dragons! Check out this great blog by The World with Chris and Sarah for some details on the diving opportunities available and some extra information about the islands themselves!
One of the iconic moments when you first arrive in Rinca is the possible sight of the fearsome Komodo dragons patrolling the beach, as if to welcome you to their territory with worry! You soon realise that this is not Disneyland; rather it is a dangerous safari where the major attractions can be almost as deadly as lions!
I was only on a daytrip from Bali, although I recommend visiting Komodo National Park for at least one night. Accommodation is not great in the region, but then again, this is the ends of the Earth! I got to see Mount Kelimutu and some great beaches over at Flores during my day trip and I really don’t know how we crammed it all in, but I guess the main reason I came here was to see the Komodos. For a larger overview of what else I got up to check my thoughts on being at the ends of the Earth!
During the day, my small group of 6 was accompanied by rangers, who took me back to their base where they would feed the dragons. The dragons know they can get food here so they always congregate outside the huts awaiting something to be thrown at them for the tourists! The Komodos can stand on their hind legs and reach up to around 8ft, so it is important to obey all the safety instructions and not get too close to them when you are standing on the balconies!
Although the dragons are the highlight of the trip undoubtedly, there are other fauna on the island; giant flying foxes hang from the trees during the daytime and during dusk can take flight to a cacophony of noise as they seek food. There are also large snakes on the island, many of which are dangerous to men. Buffalo, deer, and monkeys are also present.
Komodo National Park also is (apparently) home to one of only 7 pink beaches in the entire world, and I think it was a great sight to experience, with the crystal clear waters and sound of the waves nearby. In a bonus addition, I got to experience the beginnings of a sunset before we headed back to mainland. In fact, aside from housing the legendary wildlife of Komodo National Park, the scenery here lends itself very well for photography, especially from up high. You can get great shots of the bay and flora from up above. I think a little light trekking with the your guide/ranger during the day is a great way to experience the beauty of the region – although always remember to keep your wits about you, as who knows what may be lurking in the long grass…