17.05.2012 - 23.05.2012 30 °C
Komodos most famous resident, the Komodo Dragon has remained pretty much unchanged since the days that the dinosaurs were roaming around eating Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum’s ancestors. As the guides told us on the trip, they have 57 different types of bacteria in their saliva which has been responsible for 4 deaths on Komodo in recent times. Just what you want hiding in the bush as you are walking through in your flip flops!
The boating trip started off with a few hours on a bus as we headed for the east coast of Lombok. We picked up some snacks on the way before arriving at the port and boarding the vessel that would be home for the next 4 days. This trip is a very basic budget option, with the only luxuries being the coral filled waters that we would be swimming in. We had 14 of us on our boat which had an upper deck housing mattresses as thick as a newspaper and pillows only slightly thicker. This open air sleeping area was protected from the elements by a tarpaulin strung up over the top. The deck at the front of the boat was just an open space covered by more tarpaulin with a small sun deck at the bow of the boat. As simple as she was she ran like a dream, albeit like a loud wartime gun battle of a dream.
We started off to sea as the sun was setting behind Lombok. As we continued, we witnessed another great sunset followed by a sky full of bright stars as all other light pollution vanished. A thunder cloud flashed away in the distance and whilst we all sat on the sundeck getting to know each other satellites and shooting stars darted overhead. This was a great first impression as to what to expect over the coming 4 days. We moored up in a bay around 10pm and enjoyed the silence with the engine being off. We were warned though that we had some distance to cover the next day, so the boat would head off at 2am. Nicely into a deep sleep, the whole boat was awaken when the engine roared into life and we set off.
The call for breakfast got us up in time to see the sun rising as we pulled into a bay at Moyo Island with some amazingly clear water around the boat. We abandoned ship to swim over to the shore of the island to walk inland to a waterfall. This was the only bit of fresh water we would be getting for the coming days so people were keen to have a final shower
We left the bay and sailed further around the island to a spot that was supposed to be great for some snorkelling. This lived up to the reputation with more crystal clear water and abundant coral and fish.
When the boat fired up the engines after the swim, she would not stop until we got to another swimming spot the next day. Needless to say getting to sleep on a rocking boat with a less than finely tuned engine wasn’t the easiest and staying asleep was even harder.
Another sunset on a day at sea
First stop after the long night was a completely deserted island somewhere along the Indonesian islands. We dropped anchor in the bay and went for an early morning hike up the hill to overlook the islands. Stunning views over the water greeted us at the top! It’s hard to believe that there is all this untouched paradise down here.
Next stop was pink beach with its red coral sands. We had some more snorkelling time here and before heading around to the landing jetty at Komodo ready to see some dragons
Arriving on Komodo Island, we got a safety briefing from the park rangers who would be showing us around. Basically, watch out for dragons and snakes. Fair enough. On the way to the watering hole the guide gave us the facts about these prehistoric reptiles
• They are now only found on 3 Islands, Komodo, Rinca and Padar in the wild
• Grow to 3 meters weighing up to 70kgs (130kg if full from a meal)
• They can run at 18km/hr
• They can smell blood from 3kms away
• The 57 different types of bacteria in their saliva will kill its prey (usually deer) over a few days
• There have been 9 incidents on Komodo island – 5 people survived and 4 died including a Swiss tourist who was never found except for his camera
Good to see that we basically have a 50% chance of surviving then! As we approached the watering hole, there were two large adult males just lying around. One of them got up and started to move towards our group. The guides kept us at a safe distance before we got some photos of them from only a few meters away.
A couple of people got a bit spooked by the dragons and needed to go back to the boat. Admittedly, they do seem rather fearsome at first. However while the rest of us waited for the second guide to return after taking the others back, the dragons just seemed to laze about more than anything else. We left them in peace and walked further inland for some views before going back to the peak entrance where there were deer and more dragons hanging about.
Deep into dragon territory
We anchored in a bay a short distance away and swam around the boat as another beautiful sunset closed out the day.
The following morning started off with a great sunrise before we headed around to Rinca Island for some more dragon hunting. The dragons on Rinca are supposed to be more aggressive than the ones on Komodo. Jeff spotted a lone dragon out in the tall grass along the walk that we did, but when we came through the village at the end of the walk, there were a lot of them hanging around there warming up in the morning sun.
To complete the 4 days experience, we pulled up to one final small island with a little hill and a sandbar beach on the south side. It was a beautiful deserted island that we enjoyed along with the sister boat that had been following us around the whole way. We got out our ball to throw around in the water and make the most of the final hour around these amazing waters.
What a catch...
The port of Labuan Bajo on Flores Island was our finishing point of the trip but we could stay for free on the boat as it was staying in Port that night. After a few drinks with everyone at a nice place overlooking the bay we all loaded up on the free buffet (free if you purchased a drink) and continued well into the night. I was in an especially happy mood having seen that Chelsea FC had won the champions league whilst we had been out on the boat!
Everyone went their separate ways the following morning but us three had decided to stay an extra night. We didn’t do much except go for a bit of a walk to find a beach, however it didn’t compare to the beaches we had been swimming at on the past few days.
Avocado and Chocolate shake, not as crazy as it sounds
A short plane ride took us back to Bali where we spent our final night as a threesome indulging in a fish feast down at Jimbaran Bay. An appropriate way to end another great few weeks with Jeff. In the morning we headed up to Singapore and then on to Bangkok. Breakfast in Bali, Lunch in Singapore and Dinner in Bangkok – such is the life of a backpacker!!!
Jeff – As if Gili Air was not relaxing enough. I was a little apprehensive about the sleeping on deck and lack of showers and limited rations of fresh water, but I needn´t have been. Magical sunsets, superb snorkelling and of course the Komodo dragons made for an excellent four days. Hard to see how the Komodo dragons are that dangerous when they just sloth about like giant lazy lizards?
Tanya – Sure the amenities were basic, but regardless we remained much cleaner than we would have done at Glastonbury and all in all had a fantastic trip. There was plenty of time to relax and read and when we needed a stretch, there was always a hike or snorkelling on offer. The komodo dragons were incredible to see!
Thanks for the awesome photos Jeff, especially underwater!
Daniel – Someone else said this, that so many people are looking for deserted idyllic islands around Thailand all the time and rarely find it, yet you come down here to Indonesia and you don’t even have to look for it, it’s just waiting for you everywhere. Being as though Indonesia is our closest destination from Perth, this will not be our last time around these amazing waters. I hope they stay relatively undiscovered for some time to come as everyone sticks with what they know in Bali.