See more photos here: https://www.flickr.com/gp/140043503@N03/qT6A87
I met Bob, Pia, and Farich the day I checked into my hostel in Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores. After spending the evening together, they invited me on their day trip to Rinca Island and I gladly accepted!
The next morning, we each grabbed a free doughnut from our hostel for breakfast and headed down to the docks only a few minutes’ walk away. Finding our cute tiny boat named “Silalona” was easy. Getting out of the harbour is the tricky part. The docked boats are so interlocked that our crew had to use other boats as leverage to make our way to open water.
After that, we were chugging along (quite loudly) for about an hour. The island hills loomed around us and look like they were plunked down from a plastic model display store. Most of the hills or mountains are covered by grass and only have a couple trees on them. Komodo National Park is made up of three main Islands Rinca, Komodo, and Padar Island as well as 26 smaller ones.
The first island we arrived at was Rinca Island! The park fee was the most I had experienced in Indonesia (301,000 IDR which is about $30 CDN). The park fee also included a local guide (who lives on the Island). Our guide was wonderful and provided the tour in both Indonesian Bahasa and English.
We started the shortest of the 3 available hikes and walked passed the ranger station where several dragons were sitting and relaxing. I got about two meters from them. Apparently, they like the smell of food lingering in the kitchen above. Luckily, all buildings and major walkways are slightly raised due to the dragons. We also saw a baby komodo dragon about a foot long. It seemed pretty agile and climbed a nearby tree.
We continued our hike and saw some spectacular views and learned more about the komodo dragons. At the end of our tour we also witnessed a buffalo running towards a nice patch of mud in the shade and saw a few monkeys as well.
Komodo dragons are my favourite wild animals and not enough people know how amazing they are! According to “The Journey” Bi-monthly Indonesia Tourist Magazine, Komodo dragons:
- Are the oldest living lizards
- Can be found on Komodo Island, Rinca Island and Gili Motang, the Islands that form Komodo National Park (a UNESCO world heritage site)
- Can detect scents up to 5 Km away (This is why women during their periods are not allowed to visit the island, to avoid being attacked)
- Mainly hunt deer, water buffalo, and wild boar
- Use the classic strategy of bite and release. As their bite is toxic (septic) they wait for the animal to weaken and die and follow the scent
- There are over 60 types of bacteria in the dragons’ saliva and one of them can cause septicemia
- Can run up to 18 km /hr in a straight line
Our next stop was the beautiful Kelor Island. It looked as though a giant stuck a massive straw in the ocean and sucked up a mound of sand. While snorkeling, I saw some cool fish, a sea snake, and a giant prawn!
Bidadari Island was the last island that we visited. It is a private Island that has a twenty year lease to a British individual. Luckily, they allow the public to dive and snorkel in the islands surrounding corals.