If you have been following my blog for some time now, you could easily come to the conclusion that I am a city girl. A city hopping, vibrant lights, hectic streets, busy people and urban vibe loving kind of girl. And yes, that is right.
But my favourite travel experience to Komodo Island caught me by surprise. A big surprise. When I recently visited Indonesia, one glance at the itinerary for the 4th and 5th days had my stomach-churning. Two whole days, out at sea, on a boat, no cities or even towns in sight, no way to disembark if I had had enough of being stuck on the boat.
Adding to the initial assumption that I would not enjoy this part of the trip as much, we were to be sleeping onboard overnight. I don't mind sharing a room, in fact, I prefer it while travelling as it gives you a great chance of meeting new people and learning about new places. But on a boat. Out at sea. I was not sure.
Cut straight to arriving on the island our group was to depart from. And here is what happened from there.
A visit to Indonesia is incomplete without taking a boat trip around the islands of Komodo National Park – specifically Komodo Island. This is the all-time best thing I have done while travelling ever. Komodo National Park is accessible from Flores Island by boat only.
A flight from Denpasar (Bali) to Flores Island is under 1.5 hours and from Flores Island, you can join a catered boat cruise with a guide. My group joined a 2 day 1-night cruise with all food, water and snacks provided. The tour company that took our group was named Kakaban tours.
We departed from Labuan Bajo port in the early hours of the morning (after an early morning flight from Denpasar – Bali). The following day, in the evening, we arrived back at the port and spent the night in a resort just near Labuan Bajo centre.
(Plane from Bali) -> Flores Island -> boat -> Komodo Island -> boat -> Rinca Island -> boat -> Flores Island ->(plane back to Bali).
For inexpensive domestic flights in Indonesia, check Garuda Indonesia.
The airport on Flores Island is located a very short drive from Labuan Bajo (the small town on Flores Island). Taxis and drivers are plentiful so you will have no trouble finding transport into the main town area.
In Labuan Bajo, there is a range of resorts, hotels, backpacker accommodation, fresh food markets as well as supermarkets stocking many western and western-like products. You can also find money exchange offices, dive schools and tour booking agents for trips such as this to Komodo Island.
Before boarding your boat to the Komodo Islands, it is worth stopping off at the shops if you wish to bring any special snack foods or alcohol for the cruise. All food is provided, and it was plenty for me (i did not even eat the snacks I bought with me), however, if you drink alcohol then you will need to stock up before you depart.
The sunsets and sunrises on board, sleeping overnight on the boat, the friendly Indonesian crew, the stars at night, sailing through the bright blue clear water, and the many stops along the way made for an absolutely magical time.
There was enough time anchored for swimming and snorkelling – with the opportunity to see manta rays, dolphins, dugongs, whales, a huge variety of fish, coral reefs, turtles and eels.
During the trip, the boat ports at two islands in the Komodo National Park, Komodo Island and Rinca Island. Here a guide meets you, introduces you to the National Park and takes you on a hike to see the komodo dragons.
The catered food is also amazing, fresh and had both the vegans and the meat eaters raving about how delicious it was. A large buffet meal of fresh vegetables, rice, tofu and tempeh dishes, as well as seafood dishes, fruit and snacks were served at mealtimes. For me, this was the best food I had tasted in Indonesia.
Stopping off at Komodo National Parks on both Komodo Island and Rinca Island is exciting. Walking around the small treks, of 1km to 4km (which the guide allows the group to choose which trek people want to do), offers the chance the explore the islands, see animals such as black pigs, Timor deer (aka the Komodos food), crocodiles, scrub fowls and of course the giant and slightly scary Komodo Dragons.
This was the first time I had ever seen small black pigs, and deers were also easily spotted. The guides keep the group together and know the Komodos in the area well so I felt safe and thankful to them.
We found most of the Komodo Dragons within close vicinity of the small village, close to the beach, nearing the end of our hike. The guide told us that this is where one of the National Park rangers lives and the dragons can smell the ranger cooking in his kitchen.
The guides took our cameras for some closer snaps of the dragons – as we were all a little scared to get any closer (me especially).
That night, after a magical sunset over the many surrounding islands, we anchored in a bay with a couple of other touring boats.
On the second day, we ported at Rinca Island, which is also part of the Komodo National Park. We were again greeted by guides at the pier, who welcomed our group and walked us to the information area and the start of the trail.
The guide on Rinca Island also allowed the group to decide on what length of trek to take. Due to the high temperatures and strength of the sun that day, the group decided on one of the shortest treks.
At the commencement of the trek, there is a range of skulls from a wide range of animals that the komodo dragons have eaten – including buffalo and wild horses!
The komodo dragons on this island sure did not disappoint. We saw some sleeping, walking around and even spotted a baby one.
- Depending on the size of the group, sleeping rooms onboard the boat are all double beds, with linen, towels and pillows provided. The toilet and shower on board are adequate and cleaned regularly.
- There are a plentiful amount of power points, air conditioners in the rooms, as well as two large undercover seating/dining areas undercover on the deck. There is not a lot of space in the bedrooms, however, we found that everyone onboard only went below deck to sleep or get changed.
- There is no wifi available for the whole trip. If you require this then you can purchase an Indonesian data sim before you depart for your phone quite cheaply at stores in either Bali or Flores Island.
- There is a small amount of alcohol for sale at both Komodo and Rinca Islands, however, this is severely overpriced, and you are best to purchase alcohol at the local stores in Labuan Bajo (on Flores Island) before boarding the boat.
- It is not just being bitten or eaten by a Komodo dragon that is dangerous. Komodo dragons have over 50 different bacterial strains in their saliva (7 of these are known to be highly septic). If a deer is bitten and somehow miraculously escapes, the bacteria from the Komodo bite will likely kill the deer within a week.
- The Komodo dragon is the largest living lizard on the planet – with the largest known dragon being over 3 metres long and more than 160kg (366 pounds). However, the average weight of wild dragons you can see on Komodo and Rinca Island is around 70kg (154 pounds).
- Komodo dragons use their sense of smell as their primary hunting and food detecting tool. They commonly hunt deer, boar and goat, and have been known to hunt and eat wild horses and buffalo. However, they can see objects and animals as far away as 300 metres.
- Komodo dragons are able to swallow huge amounts of food. They have an expanding stomach that allows them to easily consume up to 80% of their own body weight in just one meal!
- In 1986, Komodo National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as a Man and Biosphere Reserve.
- I hope this post has been helpful or provides some destination inspiration for your next trip. If you have any questions about this trip or another destination from the blog, just contact me on social media (links in the sidebar).