We love a bit of wildlife, and it’s for that reason that we found ourselves 350 miles out of the way of our planned route ready to get face to face with some Komodo dragons on Rinca Island. Ever since I saw the legend that is Sir David Attenborough standing metres away from these magnificent creatures I knew I had to see them for myself.
We arrived utterly drained after a hellish 32 hour ferry ride from Benoa, Bali to Labuan Bajo on Flores. I’ve written an information post about it here as a red flag waving, hands up screaming warning to all those willing to risk a Titanic like event! Turned out, a couple of days recuperation was just the ticket as we plotted the best way to see the dragons. Chartering a boat for the day seemed to be the ideal option at 600,000IDR (£44) to take us to Rinca, not Komodo, Island. I’d heard that Rinca was closer, so cheaper, you’d still see Komodos and probably more wildlife – perfect. Next we just needed to find as many people around our guest house (Hotel Gardena) as we could who’d share the cost with us. Luckily between us and our French friend Alex we managed to find 4 more lovely people to join us.
Once you’ve paid the camera tax (what??), government tax, entrance fee, local tax, shoe tax and breathing fee we were let loose into the park with a guide and his trusty stick to protect us. Immediately we came upon about 8 of the giant beasts and what a sight. These animals are HUGE, clearly incredibly strong and deceptively fast, no wonder they’ve been around for the past million years. The guide informed us with a good natured shrug that they are excellent swimmers, climbers and can run at up to 20km/h. We all glanced at his stick.
Luckily, we had with us a Frenchman! What better person to push forwards to protect yourself when a 3 metre long dribbling lizard charges at you? Another bonus came when Ralph fell out of his flip flops and was forced to do the hike barefoot, waddling about like a penguin after a colonic, which meant it would be between him and the Frenchman for the ‘who gets eaten first’ stakes.
We found one more dragon dozing on a rock half way round the track and stopped to snap some more pictures which I’m not so sure he appreciated as he rose out of his slumber.
After a brief dip and snorkel where I stared out a shark (I did so) we wearily arrived back in Labuan Bajo. Needing a pick-me-up we bought an enormous(ly overpriced) fish from the market and asked a little street food vendor to cook it up for us. Washed down with the local (and horrific) spirit, Arak, which they definitely also used to fire up the barbie, we all lounged about chatting and playing some games. Great day, and who cares if it wasn’t on our route.
As usual, click on the pictures to enlarge them.