As a traveler with a long time obsession with Komodo Dragons, it must be admitted that this was the main reason for visiting Indonesia. Though the country ended up being astouding in what else it offers, Komodo and its adjacent island Rinca beckoned like sirens…
Komodo Island is located in the center of the Indonesian archipelago, between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores. Established in 1980, initially the main purpose of the Park was to conserve the unique Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) and its habitat. However, over the years, the goals for the Park have expanded to protecting its entire biodiversity. The park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986.
The most popular way to island hop for those without their own yacht is with a company called Perama tours. From land based to sea based, they are the best bet for exploring Indonesia’s islands. Perama tours visit Lombok as well, for those coming straight from Bali it allows a fuller glimpse of the islands, along with traditional village visits and more. The highlight is of course Komodo and Rinca.
Swimming and snorkeling can be done in the park. Live aboard dive boats are very popular and allow more exploration of the area. On foot, on the islands, it is the travelers and the guide simultaneously tracking the dragons and trying not to get too close. They are good at staying hidden when they desire.
The thrill of stepping foot onto the dry, dusty landscape, knowing that such magnificent creatures wander freely in their own environment, cannot be overstated. The Varanus Komodoensis, is a unique animal indeed. They are found only on Komodo, Rinca, Flores and the tiny island of Gili Motang. The lizards can take down animals many times their size. The bite may not be lethal, but the Komodo’s saliva will eventually kill any bitten by them.
The guide will lead by foot over the hills, through the dry riverbeds and forests to track the dragons. Hunters will see deer and other local wildlife, as well as pass through villages. (Yes, people live here. Once in a while a small child or animal is taken by the dragons). It is possible to get close to the Komodo, as long as caution is used. The poison is capable of being fatal to humans.
Rinca has more local wildlife to observe than Komodo, and more visible dragons as well. This is a unique habitat, and an even more unique creature. Most will find themselves with an ear to ear grin at being witness to such an incredible and once in a lifetime experience, up close and personal with a vanishing prehistoric creature in a landscape having more in common with jurassic days than the modern world. Looking into the eyes of a Komodo dragon brings forth a feeling of oneness with the natural world, and can evoke a desire to throw off the trappings of the modern world and stay on a small deserted island in paradise…