Komodo National Park is home to the world`s largest lizards and the last living dinosaur – the Komodo Dragon (Varanus Komodoensis). The archipelago includes three major islands, Komodo, Rinca and Padar, and it is located in the centre of Nusa Tenggara, between Flores and Sumbawa.
Established in 1980, the main purpose of the national park was to conserve the enormous reptile and its habitat, however, over the last few years, the main motivation seems to be tourism.
Komodo Dragons can reach a length of up to 3 m and they are easily capable to consume the whole water buffalo. They are lethal even for humans. A single bite can kill a fully grown deer or a wild horse. It is not their teeth, however, but their saliva which kills as it contains a bacteria as a form of venom. Once bitten their prey might still be able to run away, but not too far. The poison is powerful and effective and the lizards are patient and persistent hunters. They follow their ‘meal’ until it gets weak and drops to the ground in order to take their first bite, often while the prey is half-alive.
What is quite difficult to comprehend is that these lumbering creatures with stumpy legs can run as fast as a dog. Besides, they are great tree climbers and excellent swimmers, so it is easy for them to travel between the islands to look for food. Occasionally, they can be seen in the sea by the visitors approaching the islands by boat.
WHAT TO DO IN KOMODO NATIONAL PARK
- Hiking on the Rinca Island – there are numerous walking treks around the island, but you will need to hire a private local guide to avoid a potential risk of getting hurt by a dragon. Although it seldom happens, there are a few reports of tourists being attacked by the lizards in the past
- Sunbaking & Swimming on the Pink Beach of the Komodo Island – the most famous of all beaches
- Snorkelling & Scuba Diving is one of the most popular activities due to its outstanding sea life – all tours can be booked in Flores (Labuan Bajo)
- Sea Kayaking around the archipelago is an awesome experience. The lucky adventurers will perhaps paddle along with the dragon
Be advised that accommodation within the boundaries of the national park is very limited and the most convenient way to stay around is on a boat. Therefore, most of the tourists take an organised overnight tour to the islands of Komodo.
Such 2 days/1 night “safari” packages usually include full meals on the boat or mainland, snorkelling equipment, kayaks and a guide who will show visitors around the main islands of Komodo and Rinca where you get to see the world`s last dinosaurs in their natural environment. Snorkelling and swimming or kayaking is a part of such an excursion, as well as a night party on your boat to make the expedition unforgettable. Bookings are available in Labuan Bajo/Flores.
Komodo Dragons have brilliant swimming skills and they often move between the islands looking for a prey. Therefore, always watch out for the reptile`s footprints and tail prints in the sand while admiring the splendid pink and grey beaches of the Komodo islands.
WHEN TO TRAVEL
The islands of Komodo are arid and relatively barren, with almost no rain between April and October.
HOW TO GET THERE
The easiest way to get to the islands is to book an all-inclusive package from Bali, Lombok or Flores. However, the actual starting point is in Labuan Bajo, the capital of Flores. There is a wide array of such expedition options, offering budget, adventure or luxury.
Independent travellers can fly from Bali, Lombok or Jakarta https://www.garuda-indonesia.com/ or take the slow Pelni ship from Lombok or Sulawesi directly to Labuan Bajo and organize a charter boat to the national park on the spot https://www.pelni.co.id/welcome?lang=en