With very little time up our a sleeves (we had tried to jam as much into 2 weeks as possible) we had looked at the options for a 1 night (2 day) side trip to see the famed Komodo Dragons.
Most trips offered nothing shorter than 2 nights, but with luck we stumbled on a suitable option through Viator.
Our voucher had proposed a 6:30-7:00 pick up time, but also suggested we contact the local operator to re-confirm in advance.
Dutifully doing so, the friendly woman on the end of the line advised “No problem, confirmed for 8:30 in the morning”.
Hmmm, this seemed much later than originally advised, so we set an alarm for 6am, just so we wouldn’t be rushed if there was some confusion here.
Sometimes even the best thought out plans are given no chance, as imagine our surprise at being woken at 05:58 by a knock on our door followed by a whispered “Your car is here”
The frenzy that followed saw clothes quickly thrown on and bags hastily packed before a quick farewell to the woman who had woken us, and me attempting to pay her. Turns out, she was also a guest! (although our host was located and promptly paid and we were on our way to the airport).
A short flight later and we were touching down at the rustic looking, soon to be upgraded, Labuan Bajo airport where were eventually met by a guide holding a sign with our names (how very rock star did we feel).
It was only a short trip from the airport to the harbour where we quickly found our boat. All that was missing now was its crew…
Eventually our captain was spied running along the wharf, the crew was gathered, the boat boarded, and we were off on the slow journey to Rinca Island in the Komodo National Park (about 2-3 hours each direction).
A brief introductory talk from our guide on the Komodo Dragons, and we were then left take in the plentiful scenery as island after island passed us by on either side of the vessel.
This routine was only broken when either the wind or a wave buffeted the boat, and our sunscreen bottle was lost overboard! An alarm was sounded, the boat was stopped and incredibly after 4 or 5 minutes, it was spotted bobbing 100 or so metres away and promptly retrieved (this was an incredible feat as it was only a small 100ml bottle, barely visible in the white capped waves).
By early afternoon we’d made it to Rinca Island and fortunately for us, being low season, only had to clamber over 2 other boats to reach the small dock (in the high season, it can apparently be a 10 boat scramble, as the dock is not large, so the boats moor alongside each other)
Standing now upon dry land, it was time to seek these monsters, the largest lizards in the world, these Komodo Dragons.
By arriving in the heat of the afternoon, we had certainly set ourselves a task, as the dragons are most active in the mornings, before taking refuge from the heat later in the day.
Thankfully luck was with us (and almost not with me as I very nearly trod on the first dragon we encountered for the day), and there were indeed dragons to be found.
I thought these creatures were mighty impressive, although was slightly less impressed, perhaps because she’d envisioned something more akin to a Stegosaurus!
The island itself suffers from very little rainfall, which sounded odd given the lush, tropical appearance of so many Indonesian islands. Rinca however was different. Fairly rocky, and mainly savannah rather than lush rainforests.
It was however, still a beautiful sight in itself.
Back on board our boat, our crew had prepared a lunch that was certainly far too big for just the 3 of us (Sarah, myself and our guide), however it certainly was tasty and would provide energy for our next indulgence. Some snorkeling!
This was exciting, as it was not only the chance for us to get our new snorkels, masks and flippers (fins), but also the underwater camera I’d ordered oh so long ago for our Vanuatu trip, but had never arrived in time to be taken on that particular trip.
In truth, it was only an average spot. There were certainly a few fish about, but most of the coral was dead (possibly from all the boats stopping here and dropping anchor, and the conditions, whilst not rough, were certainly not calm.
After half an hour or so in the water, we decided we’d had enough, and it was on to the final part of the days tour. Just off the coast of Rinca lies what appears a small copse of mangroves (almost like an island in the sea) and it was here we dropped anchor to wait… for what eventually came to be an hour and a half!
For within this forest of mangroves lay flying foxes (megabats), thousand upon thousand of them!
So wait we did, watching several wild goats showing off their famed sure footed nature on a nearby island to pass the time.
Eventually, as the sky began to darken, the bats began to take flight. It was in impressive sight, however I’m not so sure it was worth the hour and a half weight. Still, what else where we going to do?
What followed was a lengthy sea voyage, as before long the sky was dark and we were traveling under the stars. Finally making it back to the harbour at Labuan Bajo, we were then whisked away to our hotel, which when viewed properly the following morning was far more lavish than needed or expected (still it did not stop us taking advantage of the pool for a quick dip the following morning).
As we were unpacking our bags and preparing for bed (it had been a long day), I heard an unexpected jingle. Rifling further through the offending bag I found an odd set of keys… then it dawned on us. In our half asleep state at 6am earlier that day, the key to our room in Denpasar had mistakenly been packed with our belongings!
So much for best laid plans…
NOTE: We did email Rumah Kumis in Denpasar and we were going to arrange to mail them back the key, but they kindly said not to worry.