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  1. #1
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    How to see Komodo Dragons

    So as promised a photo thread from my recent trip to Komodo.

    After doing plenty of research, I followed the well worn path of flying from Bali to Labuan Bajo. It's about an hour and they even have Business Class. Very nice.

    I booked one of the few decent-ish hotels available, the Bintang Flores.







    The digs were nice enough, with a nice view from the pool bar (third pic), although the service fair sucked as they had to go and get all the drinks from the hotel. I had them jogging I tell you.

    We had a quite first evening, the plan being to find a boat the next day for a two day trip thereafter.

    This is where it gets tricky: It's all a process of negotiation and shopping around.

    I'm told that you can actually go to the dock and negotiate with the owners yourself, but it being Eid Al Adha, half of the boats were not in service.

    Luckily after a fair bit of traipsing, I found a two day overnight trip for 1,200,000 for which I'd been quoted 10,000,000 earlier; That was an open air deck job, sleeping under the stars, but it had a shower and a toilet, and included breakfast, lunch and dinner both days, plus unlimited water and tea/coffee. You can take your own beers (they have a fridge), so we loaded half a dozen each for the night stop and then went and had dinner in the *only* decent restaurant in Labuan Bajo, an Italian called Made In Italy.

    The food was excellent, western prices but you'd struggle to find Italian food that good outside Naples. Well worth it.

    Took a few pics of Labuan Bajo on the way:









    We had an early night ready for the next day.

    The trip was basically:

    Day 1: Padar Island, Manta Ray snorkelling, park overnight.

    Day 2: Komodo Island, Rinca Island.

    We waited by the shop as all the Muslims came marching down from morning prayer ready for the celebrations ahead.



    Then we were lead off to the dock to get the boat:





    And off we went, about 20 of us, sailing past lots of islands on the way to Padar:











    Next: Padar Island
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  2. #2
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    Then we parked at Padar Island. There isn't anything on it to see, but there is a rather long climb up the hill to get to various viewpoints. I did some of it, and then strolled along the beach.



















    After that we went snorkelling at Manta Point, lots of Manta rays in evidence, then rumbled back to park for the night at sunset.

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  3. #3
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    Then the highlight of the trip: Komodo.

    I'll just add here that doing the stopover is probably the best approach, because we were only the second group to get to Komodo that day. I'm guessing that the day trippers all arrive at lunchtime and it gets a bit busy, but we pretty well had it to ourselves.

    Now one of my travelling companions had been mentioning how disappointed they were the first time they went, as they so no dragons whatsoever.

    So you can imagine the reaction when we moored, walked down the dock, and there was this enormous fucker on his way down to the beach!

    It was breathtaking. In case you don't know, they are the largest lizards in the world and are only found on the islands of Flores, Rinca and Komodo. They can grow up to ten feet long, this one was about 7 or 8, and weighed about 80kg by all accounts.




    At this point we are getting screamed at to stay away (they have 60 different types of toxic bacteria in their saliva which is how they kill, so I wasn't exactly getting in range!). We were led to an office where we were appointed three rangers, each with long sticks with a "V" in the end, which I assume is to shove the fuckers away if they start getting hungry.

    There are different trails you can take, our group took the "medium" one, which goes past a watering hole that they set up to entice the dragons down from the hills, which apparently is their preferred terrain.

    We get to the watering hole and there are two more big bastards. Breathtaking I tell you.











    After everyone had their chance to take their selfies and other photos, all under the watchful gaze of the rangers and at a safe distance, we continued up the path.

    I saw movement in the woods and noticed a deer having a snack. Not sure it was the right place to be, given that it didn't seem bothered by a group of people walking past.



    A little further one, the ranger stopped and pointed out another, younger dragon just a few metres from the path (You are explicitly instructed to stay on the path and with the group, with rangers at front and back).



    I saw a Wild pig dart past, but too quickly for a photo. He didn't look like he wanted to be lunch.

    And a couple more deer ventured down to the beach as we returned. They are apparently Komodo Dragon's favourite meal.



    After a quick drink and buying the obligatory T-shirt, we got back on the boat to sail to Rinca.

    However, the guide told us that we had a choice of seeing more dragons, or snorkelling at a place abundant with turtles, which got the vote, so we did that instead.

    And plenty of turtles of all sizes were there, too.



    After that, we had lunch, and then everyone crashed out while we sailed home.

    Two days in the sun took its toll, when we got back, we laid into the G&T's and then all had an early night.

    A brilliant trip, and all told I would recommend it to anyone, as it's the only place in the world you can see these prehistoric monsters.

    Things I would do differently next time:

    (1) Organize a bigger boat with AC cabins, still going overnight and getting to Komodo in the morning.

    Hope you all enjoyed this thread, it's still a pain in the arse uploading pics even if it is easier than before.

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  4. #4
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    Oh, and I would try and book a boat before you go, it may be more expensive but it would be a lot less hassle.

    I heard lots of horror stories about people being cancelled, ripped off because they didn't know prices, etc.

    There are lots of boats on tripadvisor, booking.com, etc. that you can check for good reviews and book in advance.

    I'd do that next time, too.

  5. #5
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    Oh and a couple of pics I forgot to include:

    The map, and a baby Komodo Dragon up a tree.

    Apparently they live up trees until they are three years old, to avoid being a tasty snack for other dragons, including their parents!


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  6. #6
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    Thanks for the report, Harry.


  7. #7
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    Enjoyable travelogue. Cheers!

  8. #8
    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    nice report Hairy

  9. #9
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    Good stuff!

    Many thanks for sharing.

  10. #10
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    Nice pics, harry.

    I especially like the portrait of the dragon which makes him look like a friendly fellow.


    What’s up with those ratty looking deer? They don’t look to be very healthy.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by misskit View Post
    Nice pics, harry.

    I especially like the portrait of the dragon which makes him look like a friendly fellow.


    What’s up with those ratty looking deer? They don’t look to be very healthy.
    Not far from being a Komodo buffet I think.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the great trip report and excellent camera skills.

  13. #13
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    Good pix an excellent report


    You are younger and more handsome than I'd imagined

  14. #14
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    Great report Harry. I'm out of greens

  15. #15
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    Top notch Harry.

    Looks like the claws on those beasts could do a fair job of killing you as well.

  16. #16
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    A very interesting and visually enjoyable thread Harry.

    Well done.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for the trip report, very nice pics & photos!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    islands of Flores,
    I thought it was only Komodo. Could explain why the hobbits died out and why there's so few of their bones there.

  19. #19
    a cookin' an' a bookin' Luigi's Avatar
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    Great stuff Haz. Cheers.



    Harry For Admin!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    I thought it was only Komodo. Could explain why the hobbits died out and why there's so few of their bones there.
    There is often debate about how they got to the other islands, whether they floated, or the sea was much lower.

    They were apparently on Padar at one point but there are none there now.

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    There is often debate about how they got to the other islands, whether they floated, or the sea was much lower.
    Hobbits or lizards? .
    But yes, jokes aside, I always thought it was only Komodo. New information for me that it's two other islands. But the hobbit proposition is one to ponder. Small hominids sharing an island with aggressive predatory carnivores.
    cf homo florensiensis.

  22. #22
    peckerwood SKkin's Avatar
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    Never looked into it much...but I wonder if the Komodo dragons were at least part of the inspiration for the Godzilla phenom.

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