Ever heard of the Varanus komodoensis or Komodo dragon? It is the largest living lizard, only to be found in a few Indonesian islands! They can grow up to 3 meters and weigh as much as 70 kg. We joined on a sea adventure in search of these creatures…
Our first stop was Rinca island. The itinerary says you’ll visit Rinca the first day and Komodo island the next one. But the ticket to “Komodo National Park” is only valid for one day (unless you pay twice), so we did them both that same day. The entrance fees + ranger fees are not included in the sea trip price. On both islands it’s obligatory that rangers escort your group around the island.
Komodos eat every animal they can find on the islands: pigs, deer, other komodos, water buffaloes and even humans… They can run up to 18 km/h but only for short distances.
It’s the bite of the komodo dragon that’s so dangerous. Its saliva contains many bacteria causing their prey to die from blood poisoning.
Therefore it is necessary that rangers accompany you, although their only ‘weapon’ is a V-shaped wooden stick. During this time of the day they were very lazy, but you never know when one might suddenly snap at you!
We could choose between a short, middle or long walk. We opted for the middle one. The views were great but unfortunately we didn’t encounter any komodo’s in the wild. However, there are a few huts on the island with a kitchen. So you will definitely see lots of sleepy komodo’s lurking around there!
A few hours later we arrived at Komodo island. We were a little disappointed in our guide’s time management, since we arrived at 5 pm and darkness sets in at 6 pm. Therefore it was no longer allowed to climb up the hill to the viewpoint. Luckily we encountered a few wild boars, some deers and… a komodo dragon coming out to drink! We could observe it up close and walk along until he/she disappeared into the bushes. Unfortunately we cannot say how beautiful Komodo island was, since a part of our group wanted to go back to the boat so we would get to Kalong island in time to watch the flying foxes coming out at sunset.
Arrived just in time!
We stayed overnight on the boat at Kalong island and set ‘sail’ to pink beach early in the morning. It doesn’t really look pink seen from the boat, but when you go ashore, you’ll notice the sand has a pink hue. If you’ve only snorkeled around Europe before, this sure looked like snorkel-heaven to us! Beautiful coral reef and lots of colorful fishies!
Around noon Gili Laba came in sight. We had one hour to climb to the top and back. It doesn’t seem a very difficult walk, but during the hottest time of the day, it sure was tough! Us, and 3 others, were the only ones of the group who hiked all the way to the top. But, waaaauw! This view was so worth it!
Normally we were not supposed to snorkel here. All covered in sweat, we ignored our guide and took a plunge!
That day we had to stay on the boat for a very long time! Gili Laba was the last stop of the day and the boat continued sailing all through the night to our next destination. Below you can see how our boat looked like. For more pictures, visit the Kencana website. As you can tell, there is not much luxury. You sleep on the top deck on thin mattresses. During the day you try to find yourself a more or less ‘comfortable’ spot on the lower deck. Food was actually kinda good. Lunch and dinner consisted of rice, veggies and something extra like tempeh/fish/… and fruit for dessert. Only breakfast was very disappointing: 1 slice of white bread with jam or 1 banana pancake. Nevertheless, congrats to the cook! I still don’t know how they managed to prepare all this food for 15 people every day in that tiny ‘kitchen’!
In the morning we dropped anchor at Satonda island. This time we didn’t have to swim to the shore, a smaller boat came to pick us up. Satonda is a volcanic island that is famous for its huge salt water crater lake. Some of us took a dip in the hot water, but Sander said he couldn’t see anything below the surface. Luckily the waters around Satonda are filled with lots of tropical fishes!
Finally! Next stop: Manta Point! We had looked so forward to this moment! Our guide was scouring the water surface for a long time, since well, manta ‘point’ is kinda big… (To me it felt we randomly stopped in the middle of the sea). Eventually he said: “Just jump in, maybe you see them.” Okay… So we jumped! Searched and searched… Then this fellow passed us!
Suddenly we heard somebody yell: MANTA!
But the current was so strong, we had already drifted far away. After an seemingly endless long swim, we finally reached the manta spot, and there they were! But they were swimming deep down and fast! (or we were drifting away fast)
No pictures because they are kinda blurry, but we have proof! Maybe it’s time we start learning how to dive…
At last! A shower to wash away the layers of sunscreen, salt and sweat! In the bushes on Moyo island you can find a freshwater waterfall, where we could take a shower. Only problem: you have to swim to the island. And back.
Anyhow, it felt so refreshing to be able to rinse all the stickiness away. I don’t know how many tourists visit this waterfall, but even if it is not a lot, I still think it doesn’t do nature well to use lots of shampoo and soap. That’s why we brought a biodegradable product. Indonesia is such a beautiful and lovely country, so we hope they will invest more time & money in protecting its land and waters.
This was the last stop of our sea adventure. The rest of the day was spent hanging around on the boat (or in my case: being seasick). We stopped near Gili Bola for the night, but at around 3 am we already continued sailing to Lombok, since some people had to catch a plane. They dropped us off in Labuan Lombok at around 6.30 am. There, a minibus was waiting to take us further to Mataram and Sengiggi, which takes about 2 hours and 2 ½ hours respectively.
Eventually, we are glad we took the trip! First of all because we can now cross “see komodo dragons” off our to-do-list and because it gave us the opportunity to visit and explore some beautiful islands that would otherwise be impossible to reach. But, the time you spend on the boat and on land is far from equally divided. The stops were all quite short, most of them lasted only 1 hour. So if you’re hoping to lie on the beach and snorkel for hours, you will be disappointed. Also, sleeping was not always that comfortable, especially when the boat’s engine was still running. The best solution is to plan a few days on the Gilis to recover :).
- Bring snacks! I did read this on other blogs, so we bought 2 packs of cookies: finished them the first day already. Luckily we could raid the small shop at Satonda island!
- Bring extra water or other drinks: There is a ‘fridge’ filled with ice on the boat where you can store beer and water. Extra water always comes in hand in these hot temperatures and you can also use it for brushing your teeth, washing your hands, …
- All your bags will be stored in the ‘belly of the boat’. So fill a small bag with the stuff you’ll need the next days to keep with you. Otherwise you’ll need to ask them to open the cargo hold every time you need to grab something.
- Bring entertainment: a book, music, … You’ll spend a lot of the time on the boat!
- There is NO shower on the boat! Some people were told there was one, not true. Your only shower will be at Moyo island’s freshwater waterfall and your daily, salty, swim of course.
- There IS a toilet! If a whole in the deck counts.
- If you are not bound by a schedule, you can negotiate about the price in Flores/Lombok. You’ll see many shops selling boat or diving trips.
We booked our trip with Kencana adventure.
From Flores (Labuan bajo) to Lombok with the standard boat. (4D3N)
We took a flight to Labuan Bajo with Garuda airlines and stayed one night at the Blue Parrot.