Monday, 14 January 2013

6 to 9 January – The Komodo Dragons, Rinca and Komodo Islands (Indonesia)

Indonesia, Bali Airport, January 2013 (4)
Masks seen in the departure area of Bali Airport Domestic Terminal
Indonesia, Bali Airport, January 2013 (1)Indonesia, Bali Airport, January 2013 (3)   
The flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo took one and a half hours, Labuan Bajo being the airport for the island of Flores which is one of the starting points for the islands where the dragons are to be seen. Apart from the flight I had made no arrangements for a tour expecting that people would be at the airport waiting for passengers to get off the plane and ready to sell a tour. Anyway, I agreed to pay for a taxi to a hotel I had seen on the internet then the taxi driver wanted to talk about a tour and I eventually agreed on a two day trip on a boat to Rinca and Komodo Islands, sleeping either on the boat or ashore on an island for one night. The hotel, the Puncak Waringin, is on a hill above Labuan Bajo, overlooks the bay and a short walk from the town down a slippery muddy track. Prayers are broadcast from the local mosques five times a day and it is a while since I last heard them. Not many of the local women and girls cover their heads and nothing seems to stop while prayers are being said so the Muslim population here must be very relaxed about their religion.

Indonesia, Flores Harbour, 6 January 2013 (1)
The port and town of Labuan Bajo
The following morning I was picked up and taken to the boat which was to take me to Rinca and Komodo Islands. Water was being loaded onto the boat, river water for washing from containers on a truck as there is no town water supply, with bottled water being for drinking. The crew was a driver and deckhand, the driver being the cook and the deckhand seasick most of the time. I was to sleep in the bunk with blanket and pillow supplied. We left Labuan Bajo at 0815 hours with the journey to Rinca Island taking three hours.

Indonesia, Labuan Bajo, Water to boat, 7 January 2013 (1)
Filling the river water drum
Indonesia, Linca Island, 7 January 2013 (1)
The boat I was on
Indonesia, Labuan Bajo, 7 January 2013 (6)
Tourist island cruising boat
Indonesia, Linca Island, 7 January 2013 (2)
Tourist island cruising boat
Indonesia, Labuan Bajo, 7 January 2013 (2)
Tourist island cruising boat
At the Rinca Island wharf I had to wait for a guide to take me to the park office as visitors were not allowed to walk about by themselves. Paying £3.25 each for the entrance fee, camera and a ranger guide then £1.25 for tax I was ready to be off to see the dragons. The fee allowed entrance to both islands and lasted for three days with the tickets being put in an envelope, much to my surprise. I was instructed not to go within 5 metres of a dragon and the ranger carried a forked stick which he could use if a dragon came too close. A number of dragons were seen near the cook house! I chose to do the 5 kilometre walk and was lucky enough to see a few dragons out in the jungle. There were also wild horses, water buffalo, pigs, chickens and monkeys to be seen. 

Indonesia, Rinca Island, 7 January 2013 (3a)
The entrance to the park
Indonesia, Rinca Island, 7 January 2013 (4)

The Rinca Island dragons are supposed to be slightly smaller than those of Komodo Island and not so many as on Komodo Island, less than 2000 compared to more than 2000.
Indonesia, Rinca Island, 7 January 2013 (6)

Indonesia, Rinca Island, 7 January 2013 (13)

Indonesia, Rinca Island, 7 January 2013 (16)

Indonesia, Rinca Island, 7 January 2013 (18)

Indonesia, Rinca Island, 7 January 2013 (19)
Dragon leftovers
The dragon kills and eats small prey straight away but the bigger animals are bitten, the saliva being infectious which causes the animal to die in a week or so. During this time the dragon follows the dying animal until it is too weak to resist being killed. As the animal is dying the infected blood gives out a smell that the dragon follows, the dragons sense of smell being in its forked tongue with it being able to smell over a long distance, about five kilometres.

The boat left Rinca Island at 1400 hours when a huge lunch was served of sweet and sour whole fish, rice, noodles with vegetables, vegetable soup and pawpaw, far too much for me. After three and a half hours we anchored off Komodo Island until the following morning. There was nothing to do on the boat except read and eat with another large meal produced in the evening. The boat  driver spoke a little English, the deckhand none so there was not much in the way of conversation at any time. During the night it was very stormy with heavy rain and big wind causing the boat to be thrown about quite a lot. Breakfast at 0600 hours was a toasted sandwich of egg, tomato, onion and cheese, all done in an electric sandwich maker after the egg had been fried first.

On Komodo Island I had to pay for the ranger to take me round, the other tickets from Rinca Island being usable here. It rained most of the time I went round but here the dragons were larger and really something to be seen in a walk taking one and a half hours. The dragon is a member of the monitor lizard family, it is the largest living species of lizard, growing to a maximum length of 3 metres (10 ft) and weighing up to around 70 kilograms (150 lb). Seeing the dragons was one of the highlights of this trip and I am glad that I took the time to go and see them in the wild.
Indonesia, Komodo Island, 8 January 2013 (5)
Deer on Komodo Island beach

Indonesia, Komodo Island, 8 January 2013 (10)

Indonesia, Komodo Island, 8 January 2013 (7)

Indonesia, Komodo Island, 8 January 2013 (8)

Indonesia, Komodo Island, 8 January 2013 (20)
I think that this is a scary photograph, out of focus making it more so, as I was moving back quite quickly to get out of his way.
Indonesia, Komodo Island, 8 January 2013 (24)

Indonesia, Komodo Island, 8 January 2013 (30)

Indonesia, Komodo Island, 8 January 2013 (17)
This dragon was in the tourist restaurant-waiting for breakfast!

I noticed that there was a large jetty being extended at Komodo Island and when I asked what it was for I was told that the cruise ships tied up there, some with 2000 passengers. I definitely would not like to be on the island with that many people around! The journey back to Labuan Bajo took five and a half hours in a very rough sea with lunch being served at the end of the trip as it was too rough to cook on the way and anyhow, the deck boy was seasick. At least the rain held off until I had climbed the hill back to the hotel though it has more or less rained ever since. Tour boats have not been leaving the harbour for the past two days as it is too rough for the tourists to be taken out, not that there are many about as far as I could see, and the ferries have stopped as well.

After returning to Labuan Bajo I stayed one night in the hotel and then flew back to Bali.

1 comment:

  1. That's awesome trips moment. Komodo Island is a tourist location that is very worth to visit. This is a very exotic. And I always wanted to travel to the island just like you did. Of course I also want to see Komodo Dragon directly. will definitely be very creepy and it will be a very interesting holiday. nice post, more info: http: // page = 63 ... thanks for the post