Here be dragons: Komodo is bliss refound, though watch out for a locals

Hang around in Bali prolonged adequate and you’ll accommodate some aged timer who’ll tell we that a island is spoilt and crowded, yet behind in a 70s and 80s it was paradise.


What is paradise, anyway? All a paradises have been mislaid – during slightest that’s what we thought.

I was there for usually a day (admittedly a really prolonged day) yet we consider I’ve found somewhere that deserves to be described as paradise. It’s a Komodo inhabitant park in Indonesia.

We’ve come to West Flores, a organisation of islands west of Bali, famous for a sea life and diving.

Although it’s rather remote, a area is apropos some-more visitor-friendly. While there are no approach flights from Australia, it’s a brief bound from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo, where licence boats skip for a inhabitant park. Hotels are also springing adult in a area. There is copiousness to see around a islands and it can all be packaged into a day trip, nonetheless we would suggest during slightest one overnight stay on a vessel for a some-more lax pace.

Yet notwithstanding a fact caller numbers are ballooning, a inhabitant park still feels like a far-flung square of paradise. It is also a usually place in a universe where we can see a Komodo dragon in a wild.

At 3am, a clerk during a hotel in Labuan Bajo gives us a wake-up call, and we house a vessel about 4am. The vessel sleeps 4 next and has vast mattresses on a deck, that sleeps around six. The heat during night is comfortable adequate not to need any blankets, so we soon find a mattress on a tip rug and tumble behind asleep.

When we arise adult a integrate of hours later, a object is rising and we are sailing by a Komodo inhabitant park.

All around us are islands with tiny coves surrounded by roughly vertiginous, intensely immature mountains. we try to remember where we have seen such landscapes before: a Aran Islands, a Lake District, a Scottish highlands, a south island of New Zealand? All dramatic, cold places that one doesn’t routinely associate with Indonesia.

We don’t know either to demeanour left or right – there is so many healthy beauty, and many of it is surreal. There are some alpine islands that are dull and brown, yet their neighbour could have outcrops of trees and be technicolour green, with a pinkish beach. It’s a visible feast – an Instagram bacchanal – and that’s before we accommodate a island’s proprietor Komodo dragons.

The waters here are comfortable and still, and there are cache next for those meddlesome in snorkelling or diving. But initial we contingency trek.



The Komodo inhabitant park Photograph: Oyan Kristian/Visit Indonesia

The trek

The park includes 3 vital islands, Komodo, Rinca and Padar, and is dotted with smaller islands. About 2000 people live in a park as permanent residents, mostly creation their vital from fishing.

About 30 kilometres from port, we lift into Padar Island. There is a lane that will lead us to a fantastic perspective of a bays from a summit. Each brook is unique, any with opposite phony silt of colourless and white.

Padar itself also looks surreal, like something from a film set. The turf is a splendid immature and has peaks that demeanour like churned cream. The usually distortion is a raise of rabble including cosmetic celebration bottles that has built adult on a side of one of a beaches.

It’s early yet a object is prohibited and violence down. Don’t even consider of attempting to mount to a limit of Padar yet sunscreen, a shawl and H2O (but take your bottle behind home with you).

The mount takes between 30 and 45 mins on a pebbly path. It is excellent going adult and a perspective is definitely breathtaking. Going down is a bit wily though. A integrate of Indonesian organisation offer to reason my hands during several high bits, and we agree, after tripping on lax stones and afterwards literally descending several metres down a mountain. Some people have photos to remind them of a island – we have grazes on my hands and a backs of my arms.

Snorkelling

After sweating adult a charge on a Padar climb, a suspicion of snorkelling is intensely appealing. After a brief outing on a boat, we wharf off a pinkish silt beach, called Pink Beach.

The colour of a shoreline could best be described as glow – a surprising colour a outcome of dejected red coral churned with sand. There’s a trail to a tip of a island, and a guarantee of some-more fantastic views there, yet in a midday sun, we don’t spend too many time exposed.



A scuba diver swimming over pleasant coral embankment in Komodo inhabitant park in Indonesia. Photograph: Jeff Hunter/Getty Images/Photographer’s Choice

Pink Beach is a renouned place: there’s a journey vessel circuitously and about 40 people in snorkels swimming around in tiny clusters.The H2O is transparent and comparatively shallow, creation it a good place for snorkelling beginners – and thankfully a plentiful, splendid coral looks to be in good health.

The fish are abundant and class in a area embody fake pipefish, midget seahorses, sea sunfish, blue-ringed octopus, manta rays, eagle rays, jester frogfish and sea sponges.

Take a print of a silt as we leave – it’s many fantastic and glows during a pinkest, during a sun’s final light – yet don’t be tempted to take any of it away. The shells and silt of a Komodo Park are protected.

The Komodo dragons

While a perspective of a islands from Padar is a best I’ve seen in Indonesia, and sailing in from pier during emergence felt like being ecstatic onto a set of Lord of a Rings, many people come to a park to see a Komodo dragons.

The largest vital class of lizard, a Komodo dragons can import adult to 70kg and mount 3 metres tall.

While there are about 3000 dragons around a sea park , a best possibility of saying them is during a island generally set aside for them – Komodo.

There are 5 options of removing to Komodo National Park, including a five-hour travel around a island or an hour prolonged trek. After disembarking, a organisation decides to conduct true into a park.

After about 15 mins of following guides into a park, we see a initial cluster of dragons. The park staff are armed with sticks – that doesn’t seem like adequate in box of a Komodo dragon attack.



A ominous Komodo dragon tastes a atmosphere in Komodo National Park, Indonesia. Photograph: Will Burrard-Lucas / Barcroft Me

A few years ago a Komodo dragon almost severed Sharon Stone’s father Phil Bronstein’s toe when he walked into a zoo enclosure, unclothed foot. And a integrate of weeks after a visit, a Singaporean traveller was mauled after holding a print of what he suspicion were “lifeless” dragons in a park. He compulsory 43 stitches to his foot.

With their fearsome repute in mind, we stay good back. At initial sight, they do seem “lifeless” – like vast seals wearing crocodile skin. When they move, they yield on their bellies and afterwards unexpected behind adult sphinx-like, adhering out their split tongues and creation a particular hissing sound.

There are 5 of a dragons in a group. They are grouped around any other, spasmodic station up, walking a few stairs and hissing. The guides mount nearby us with large sticks, that they will use to kick a dragons behind in a eventuality that they come nearby us.

Our beam Rasal tells us that he has usually had to use a sticks twice, yet warns us not to get too close. He also tells us a dragons have dual penises – one prolonged and one brief (“although we don’t know what a brief one is for”) and that when they mate, they can have sex for 5 or 6 hours. Later I’ll learn he’s articulate about a hulk guard lizard, a tighten cousin of a dragon.

The park itself is lovely, varicoloured and full of engaging trees and plants. The trail is prosaic and well-spoken – it’s not formidable to span and is suitable for children. Visitors compensate an opening price and are accompanied by a park guide.

After snorkelling, hiking and saying a dragons, as good as enjoying a tasty lunch and baked breakfast on a boat, we’re exhausted and sated, and it is time to lapse to port.

It takes about 5 hours to get back. It is a prolonged delayed float yet examination a object set over a plateau is as pleasing an finish to a day as a beginning.

Further information

The vessel to Komodo inhabitant park is a liveaboard vessel and PT Flores Komodo Tours offer a 10-person normal Indonesian phinisi sailing vessel for A$1600 a day, including all dishes and airfield pick-up.

  • The author trafficked to Bali and a Komodo inhabitant park as a guest of Visit Indonesia

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