Komodo Island is the only island (with the exception of its neighbouring Rinca) on the planet where you can walk amongst these dinosaurs remnants in the wild. And it did not disappoint….
We flew into Flores Island, Labuan Bajo, (with NAM Air) a relatively small island between East Java and Timor Leste. Stepping of the plane at the aptly named Komodo airport, you get a small taste of what’s to come, as the pictures of these beautiful dragons adorn the building itself. Flores is a only 13,000km squared and has a population of 1.8 million but seems almost forgotten by time.
We were picked up by our accommodation free transport but by the time we had closed the door, we had to open it again, it was literally a 5 min walk from the airport. Hotel Green Prundi is a humble little stay neighbouring with some of the locals and wildlife on this green rock but we enjoyed our stay here, as with all budget accommodation we were never going to have luxury adorning a 4 post bed but they always make up for it in character.
We took advantage of the free drop off to the main part of the island where the harbour sat. A few tour guides trying to sell the tourists scuba and island hopping trips was probably the main source of income for these locals, we opted for the one our car ‘dropped us off at’, so at least we now knew they all scratched each other’s back. The main reason tourist come to Flores is to obviously go and see the Dragons, don’t get us wrong, as with all tropical islands in Indonesia it was pretty beautiful, but has nothing except a few local shops and restaurants. We booked up to leave at 6am the following morning to the Island for 3,500,000 IDR, after a fair bit of haggling and were all set…just had to try get up at 5am now. We took a stroll around and dodged all the stray chickens and local children running about the dirt path main road and grabbed some food to watch the sunset from a little tree hut restaurant which was pretty cool…if they hadn’t forgot that we were actually up there after 45 minutes of waiting…so we done a runner 🙂
It is quite difficult getting a taxi on the island and quite a few local lads pull up on scooters and offer a lift but want shares in multimillion pound companies in exchange. We managed to get a lift courtesy of the hotel – This time the free drop off was us jumping on the back of the receptionist and hotel manager’s scooter as they decided to rally us down a very steep hill whilst we held on for dear life. In reality it was walk-able but takes about 30 minutes because of the hill and no footpath makes the road a bit suspect. We met some of the other tourists who would be embarking on our boat journey back in time. A plethora of ages and nationalities packed on to this 6 man boat….14 of us to be exact, snorkels at the ready. The trip to Rinca took us 2 hours but was pretty spectacular when considering the Dolphins and flying fish that we were sharing the water with and passing all the beautiful islands on the way. Booking are required as you are not allowed to set foot on the island (unless you’re a resident of which there are few) without a ranger guide, in case you were unaware, these dragons can and have killed humans visiting the park in the past, if they can pick up quite a deal of speed for such a lethargic looking creature and the bacteria in their bite along with the impact will slow you down and eventually poison your blood killing you….best not to flip them off. They feed on the local buffalo and monkeys etc. that also live wild on the island and can even interact with the local crocodiles, yes it’s all going on here. We are escorted over to the sign in huts and pay the entrance fee for the island, something I do not grudge as long as it goes in to protecting the island and dragons, we were greeted by one of the adolescent dragons out for a stroll beside the huts, for an adolescent I half expected to see a white haired queen on its back looking for an iron throne, it was about 120kg and 6 feet long.
Depending on the time of year, wet or dry season, will dictate where the rangers take you, they’re are specific routes along the island where you get to explore and see the dragons in their own habitat and just getting to live their lives without the interference of the plague that is man. Because it was wet season our route was not the longest one and the tracks were pretty bad with water so made for an interesting walk and one thought that was never far from the mind was that if one of these big guys decides he fancies some scotch beef, would I get stuck in the mud and make for an easy dinner. The tour took us to a tiny island where we could relax and do some snorkelling along the reef which was pretty awesome and provided lunch of a fish head and rice, which did not delight one of the guests so one of the locals showed him how to destroy it in a couple bites with an accompanying look of contempt.
The boat took us back to Flores around 3 where we could watch the sun set as we reached the harbour and departed. A young couple on their honeymoon recommended a Mediterranean restaurant, believe it or not it was called Mediteraneo, close by so we thought we would check it out (name of restaurant) and was not a regretful choice (even though I actually ate Megan’s dinner instead… nope I’m not sorry….and…..I’d do it again).
If you’re in Indonesia, Flores is a must as you can’t see this anywhere else in the world, and don’t let our 4 hour delay leaving the island put you off 🙂
Things to note – There is also a park fee (150,000 IDR), Tax (50,000 IDR) and a ranger guide fee (80,000 IDR) when you arrive at the Islands. They also charge a fee for your camera (50,000 IDR), I agree is pretty callous but, I stress again, if it helps these magnificent creature then its worth every penny.