Rinca Island Travel Blog› entry 198 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Markus (Finland) a lot of Komodo Dragons (Indonesia)
I had long heard about the legendary Komodo Dragons and had been anticipating this trip since the second i set foot in Indonesia. I wasn't too sure what to expect and didn't imagine that it could live up to my high expectations, having watched some wonderful wildlife documentaries in the past. Markus, Julia and I hired a boat for the day, which cost a very reasonable 300,000Rp (approx $33), which would take us to the island of Rinca, situated a little over 2 hours west of Flores.
It was a drag to get out of bed at 6.15am, but thankfully the hotel had some coffee on the boil and a sandwich for us to eat. Just after 7am we were on our way and passing through the pretty archipelago of islands that lie just off shore from Labuanbajo. Our first encounter with wildlife occured almost immediately, as we spotted a group of dolphins jumping out of the water not too far from our boat. On 2 other occasions during our journey, we were lucky enough to spot more dolphins, it was a great start to the trip! The boat was a decent size and as there was room to lie down on the outside deck, we took the opportunity to improve our sun tans.
Once we had moored up at Rinca, the captain of our boat took us on to the island and towards the office, where we could hire a guide. As we walked along the path, we caught our first glimpse of a Komodo Dragon, sat in the shade only a couple of paces from the path. I figured they would be like monitor lizards and probably be shy of people, so didn't feel too scared to be standing so close to take a picture. All of a sudden though, the Komodo Dragon hissed, turned and started to chase us! I became even more petrified when i saw our boat drive leading the way and screaming 'RUN, RUN!' After a hundred metres, the 4 of us were completely out of breath, with the sun beating down on us, and at this point felt safe to take a rest as the Komodo Dragon had given up its pursuit of us.
At the park office i was thrilled to find out that with a student card, entry was only a couple of dollars, as recently the national park office has hiked its prices up massively. This price increase was actually to the dismay of the locals, who said that people would stop coming if they were getting so ripped off. They also claimed that the money wasn't even staying within the country, but going out to foreign backers, a similar situation to what happens at Angkor Wat. After meeting our guide, we were taken to the park office where there were 2 huge Komodo Dragons and a smaller one lingering in the shade of the building. Apparantly they had smelt the food been cooked and were coming to scavenge some.
After taking some photos and observing the 3 Komodo Dragons, the guide explained to us what we would be doing for the next couple of hours and also gave us some information on the Komodo Dragons.
The talk had done nothing to calm the nerves and Julia was now particularly nervous and asked what would happen if they should attack us and would it be safest to climb up a tree? To her dismay, the guide informed her that baby dragons climb trees, so maybe this wasn't the best move! Instead, he reassured us that his 150cm long stick was ample protection as Komodo Dragons didn't like to be hit on their sensitive noses.
The landscape that we crossed was very arid and scattered with the skulls of horses and buffalos, which had been unlucky enough to receive a bite from one of these prehistoric beasts. In total we saw more than a dozen Komodo Dragons, most of which were in shade and avoiding the midday sun. By far the highlight of this trip, but also a major highlight from all my time travelling, came as we approached a muddy stream to see a Komodo Dragon running down a hill towards a buffalo that i thought was cooling off. I was a bit gutted when it didn't sink its teeth into the buffalo, but instead carried on up the other side of the bank and rested in some nearby shade.
On our walk back, we came across another buffalo that appeared to be healthy but at its wits end and also some very cautious macaques.
To break up the journey back to Labuanbajo, we stopped off at a small island to do some snorkelling, which proved to be excellent. In 30 minutes i spotted 3 types of stingray, countless types of fish and even a turtle. This proved to be the perfect ending to an absolutely perfect trip. Back in Labuanbajo, we met up with Hannes again and exchanged stories of our adventures over the last few days, whilst enjoying an ice cold Bintang beer. Days like this make life worth living!