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Walking With the Komodo Dragon

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We hadn’t had much of a good night’s sleep after the first day of our Komodo Dragon adventure when the engines of the boat started up.  Trying to ignore the noise we lay in bed for a little longer as the boat set off towards Komodo Island but we knew we would never get back to sleep.  Up we got and headed out to the front of the boat for some much-needed coffee.  The journey to Komodo Island took a little under two hours and we walked down the long jetty towards the park office at 7am.

Komodo Island

Dad went and paid for the entrance fee which would cover us for both Komodo and Rinca islands along with a snorkelling permit.  We were then introduced to our ranger, a tall man with a friendly smile.  Mum and Daughter went to the toilet before we set off on our hours walk and while they were in their Dad and Son spotted the first Komodo dragon.  A ranger was running with a piece of meat on a rope behind him.  In hot pursuit, and travelling at a surprisingly fast speed was a large Komodo dragon!  A look of worry spread over our Son’s face. “How fast can a Komodo dragon run?” he asked the ranger.  

The ranger explained that they can reach speeds of up to 20km an hour but gave our son the secret of running away from them – run in a zig-zag!!  Our Son asked if they could swim and learnt that they can swim up to 100meters out to sea, but they don’t tend to since they are cold blooded.  Not only are they fast, they are deadly too!  The bacteria in their saliva is so toxic that if bitten and not treated you will die.   This is how they kill their prey, one bite is enough and then they wait around until the animal dies before feasting.

With Mum and Daughter out of the toilet we set off on our walk with the ranger.  Ahead of us another ranger ran with some meat and a Komodo in hot pursuit.  Our ranger explained that they had a cruise excursion coming to the island today.  Sadly, they have had cruise passengers complain if they do not see Komodo in the wild and therefore we were witnessing the rangers bait the dragons with goat meat so there would be some at the watering hole for the tourists.  

We had spotted the big cruise ship as we docked, but since they had not reached the island yet we were treated to a very up close encounter with the four Komodo Dragons the rangers had gathered at the watering hole.  Our guide was fantastic, telling us where we could walk and warning us to back away when a Komodo started to move towards us.  All the rangers carry a long stick with a V shape at the end to keep a dragon away if they should choose to attack.  At one point, he took the kids around a Komodo to the other side where we could take some photos.  While a little bit scared, the kids loved it.

As we continued the walk he explained about the other wildlife on the island and we spotted wild boar, deer and a cockatoo as we walked around.  Looping back to the beach we spotted a huge Komodo dragon.  The ranger gave Dad his stick and took Mum’s camera. The went the other side of the Komodo and took a family photo of us (and Evin) with the dragon in the foreground.  

Pink Beach

Our chef had made us all an avocado and banana smoothie which was waiting for us on our return to the boat.  We drank these as our captain navigated to the next destination, Pink Beach.  There was a visibly strong current to one side of the beach, and with the reef not too far from the shore the boat could not drop us off close to the beach.  Instead we all boarded a smaller boat for the excursion to shore.  Tiny red pieces of coral that have broken off mix with the sand, giving the impression that the beach is pink.  

It was a great little beach and we were there for a few hours.  At first, we wondered how we would spend that time, but the reef was simply amazing. Mum snorkelled and Dad joined in for his first ever snorkelling session.  Our daughter played in the shallows with Evin while our son split his time between the sea and the sand.  When it was time to leave, we were ferried back to our boat in time for lunch.  A seafood lunch was served as the boat made its way to Rinca island.  

Rinca Island

Leaving the boat, we stepped into the sweltering heat and made our way to the ranger station on Rinca.  The contrast of both islands was quite striking.  Komodo had more forest, where Rinca seemed drier with sparse trees and shrubs.  Our ranger on Rinca wasn’t as enthusiastic as the one we had on Komodo, it seemed like he was just going through the motions.  As we did the short hike he didn’t really explain much.  

The kids were tired and hot by this point.  Our daughter decided to just lag behind and play games with our tour guide.  On the short walk, we spotted two female Komodo Dragons by two nests. Baby Komodo need to learn to survive very quickly or they will be eaten by eagles or even their own parents!  After the walk, we arrived at a ranger hut where five big dragons were hanging around.  These ones get fed by the ranger so they are pretty much always there.  Still it makes for some great photo opportunities.

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Fruit Bats

Leaving Rinca behind we felt that our experience on Komodo had been much better than Rinca, the reverse of what we had heard from other travellers.  The boat made its way towards a mangrove before dropping anchor.  The location was intentional.  After the sun, had set we sat on top of the boat and waited.  Out of the mangrove thousands of flying foxes (fruit bats) took flight.  They flew above the boat on their way to Flores island to feast for the night.  It was an amazing experience and one that the camera or GoPro will never do justice!  We headed to bed satisfied with how much we had seen on our second day!

Back to Labuan Bajo

The next morning a lone dolphin was spotted not too far from the boat as we sipped our coffee and had breakfast.  We would be heading back to Labuan Bajo this afternoon, but not before a morning of swimming and beach action on the nearby Kelor island.  Mum, Evin and the captain snorkelled.  Dad swam and the kids were in and out of the sea and boat all morning.  

We had lunch on board before the anchor was raised and we set sail across open sea towards Labuan Bajo.  On route the tour guide popped to the front of the boat and said “Come and look, your children are driving the boat.”.  Dad looked and sure enough the kids were at the helm and having great fun skippering the boat.  The tour guide had told us the previous night that when told there would be kids on the boat the crew were not very happy.  However, our two had not complained once and had spent time with each crew member talking and attempting to explain Minecraft and the crew had now grown very fond of them during our time on the boat.  The captain was more than happy for our daughter to be at the helm but when he walked past Mum and climbed to the top of the boat leaving the kids fully in charge we did get alarmed!  She loved it though and for the rest of the day she only spoke of how she had driven the boat!  

When the boat docked, we had final photos with the crew and guides before a sad farewell.  A driver dropped us off at the airport and before too long we were on a plane back to Bali, looking out at Komodo Island below.

Before we decided to do the trip, we had reservations.  Now we were on the plane back we realised that it had been such a magical adventure within our longer trip, with memories that would stay with us for a long time.

Back in Bali

We transferred to a lovely two-bedroom apartment in Sanur.  The Apel Apartments were a stark contrast to the tiny boat bedroom we had just been on but it was just what we needed to relax and recover from the trip.  Our last days on Bali were spent here, in the pool or at Sanur beach (which was a much more relaxing experience than Kuta).  With batteries recharged we headed to the airport for the next stage of our adventure: Bangkok.

 

 

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