Komodo National Park.. this is officially cool!
We bashed across the Sape Strait into the
Tradewinds to a group of very different islands.
Gone were the dark greens of the lush tropical forests, the soaring
volcanos and rugged coastlines. The
Komodo Islands lie in a rain shadow and their rounded and surprisingly low
forms are golden with dried grasses and orange clay soil. A few brave trees cling in the valleys where
what water there is must run.
|Loh Serau at Komodo Island|
|Twenty metres of chain down|
|lots of fish, too.|
We anchored for three nights off Komodo
Island and, with the exception of a dive Phinisi as a neighbor one night, we
had the bay to ourselves. We snorkeled,
kayaked and explored the beach, keeping a good eye out for the famed Komodo Dragons. We saw deer and pigs on the beach in the
mornings and evenings and enjoyed stunning sunrises and sunsets. Ponder just how many photos of sunsets we
actually need, we resolved to continue taking them just in case we missed the
very best one! So, be warned, you may
have to suffer a slide show on sunsets alone.
|Sunsets ... volcanoes ... ho-hum.|
Our next stop was Rinca and the ranger
station at Loh Buaya. We wiggled our way
through the Komodo Islands into this fabulous fjord-like anchorage surrounded
by mangroves and golden rolling hills.
We eagerly scanned the hills, trees and waterline for its famous
resident but to no avail. Heading into
the dinghy dock, the locals, and a large sign, warned us of crocodiles. There goes our evening swim!
|Dragon statues - not far off actual size.|
As the dragons are most active in the early
morning, we arranged a guided hike for 6am.
Our guide, Ramley, was a wealth of knowledge and had worked with both
David Attenborough and Steve Irwin when they were there filming. He is also a Rinca local and walked five
hours each way to volunteer at the
ranger station. He worked 10-days-on/10-days-off
as a volunteer ranger then walked home and fished for 10 days to earn a living.
|Can you spot the dragon?|
|How about now?|
|How about now?|
... and that's why we stay behind our guide.
Komodo Dragons are huge! Think crocodile rather than goanna! They will eat a pig for dinner and take down
a buffalo for a banquet with a couple of mates. Fortunately for the other
wildlife on the island, they need only eat about once a month. They swim, they climb and they can reach
speeds of 20km/hr over a short distance when motivated. There is no escape! AND, they don’t actually have to maul you to
death. One good, hearty bite will
transfer lots of nasty bacteria into your blood stream and you will die, slowly
and painfully of septicemia. The good
news is, they do have an antidote you need to take daily for about 20 days. We stuck pretty close to Ramley!
|... but the phone got closer than we did.|
The hike took us up through the rolling
savannas with stunning views out over the islands. We saw water buffalo, pigs, long-tailed
macaque, deer and, of course, Komodo dragons.
|Arid savannas ... in Indonesia!|
And to add just a small amount of excitement,
I watched a Komodo dragon swim past the boat and disappear into the
mangroves. The swim platform stayed
|Popeye in the mangroves at Rinca - swim platform up!|
|Well worth a visit.|