Indonesia has more than 13,000 islands. Of course, it's hard to visit all of them, but it's very popular to go island hopping. There are big islands like Java or Sumatra, and there are smaller ones like Bali, Lombork, or Padar. Many of them are accessible by plane, but by boat is still the most popular way of transportation. After spending a couple of days on Java Island, we decided to go to Komodo National Park. This park is famous for Komodo Dragons; huge lizards that live on 3 islands on Indonesias seas. The park is accessible only by boat, and the best way to get there is to fly to Flores Island, and then rent a boat to go to see Padar, Rinca, and Komodo Islands.
If you plan to go island hopping the best base is Bali. Most of the planes that go to other smaller islands take off from Bali. Bali by itself, is a very popular island. There are a lot of resorts, beautiful beaches, and still a lot to see on Bali. It's quite expensive because most of the time, and money you spend in the resort. That's why I would recommend to book a package in advance. Most hotels offer an all inclusive, half board, or other options. Transfer at the Bali airport is quite a process, because you have to grab your language. That's why I recommend to stay in Bali and do a one or two day getaway to other islands. There is a good selection of different connections, but delays happen so if you just transferring I would recommend to take a 4 hour layover.
Flores is a much cheaper island. You can also get a nice hotel with beach access. It's less popular, still not as developed as Bali, but trending in the direction to be the next vacation destination. From Flores you can take a boat to Komodo National Park. The most popular are a two day cruise. You sleep on the boat, and sail between the islands. We decided to take a faster boat and do Rinca and Padar Islands in one day. It was a full day trip with GO TO KOMODO. We were group of 6 people so we could get it as a private tour.
We landed in the morning and Patrick (our guide) picked us up at the airport. Straight from the airport we got to the bay and we took a boat. It was a speed boat, but the engine was very loud. I was wondering when there would be faster boats that could transfer people between the islands in an hour. Probably then, it would be too crowded and this untouched nature would be destroyed by humans.
We sailed for about 2 hours admiring the beauty of the world. We passed a lot of small islands and some of them we even wanted to buy. As far as we knew there was a possibility to buy some of the uninhabited islands, and make it as if it were your own private property. Only the richest people probably could do that – like Richard Branson. Even though, we have millions (of local currency) we probably couldn't even afford the smallest one.
Anyway, we reached our destination – Komodo National Park. The first island we visited was Rinca Island. As far as we knew the biggest possibility to see the dragons was on this island. We didn't plan to get to Komodo island so it's hard to say, but for sure, we spotted some Komodo Dragons on Rinca.
You have to walk with the guide. It's already included in the price of the boat and it's definitely for your safety. If anybody on your team has their period, they might be asked to wait in the cafeteria next to the entrance to the park or they would just get an extra guide.
The guide only has a stick, but it's quite rare that the Komodo Dragon will attack a person. In fact, they were super lazy, and didn't move at all. For sure, the hot weather made them sleepy and lazy. They were gathering next to the guides' house, and I believe they were fed by the guides from time to time.
We spent around 20 minutes, observing them, taking pictures, and learning from our guide about Komodo Dragons. So, what is a Komodo Dragon? They are the biggest lizards on the planet. They living on our planet for around 40 million years! They used to live in Asia, but then they migrated to Australia and recently to the Indonesian islands. They can swim, but they are not long distance swimmers. The younger ones can also climb trees. Male dragons can be 3 meters long and weigh around 200 kg (440 lb). Females are just a little bit smaller.
There are not many Komodo dragons, and they are protected. It's even hard to see them in the Zoo. They don't have any predators and can eat anything. They can even eat humans or even themselves. That's probably why they are becoming extinct. Their saliva is poisonous, that gets through the blood pretty fast and the pray will die. It's possible for people to survive the bite, but they have to get to the hospital very fast. However, the closest hospital is a few hours away, and the risk is bigger with every minute.
They are great predators. They can smell food miles away (10 km easily) and they will chase the pray until they catch it. They don't have to eat very often, but when they get the pray is very often big and they can almost swallow a small deer. I wouldn't like to be their pray – that's why we kept a distance and had eyes in the back of our head.
They are cannibals. That's why females lay around 15-20 eggs. When the younger dragons are born for the first 8-9 months the mother protects them but then they climb the trees and spend most of their time there until they are all grown up and become strong enough to fight back with others and to defend themselves.
We hiked the island more. The whole loop took us around 2 hours. It was exciting, thrilling, and beautiful. The whole time you have to remember that Komodo Dragons are around. The group should stay together, no running, and we all had to listen to our guide. It was like walking on a safari.
The view was amazing and it was so easy to forget that we were in dragon land. After spending some time on the island we got back to our boat – all safe! We wanted to visit one more island, Padar Island.
Padar island is a very small island. On the way there we stopped for a while to do some diving. It was cool to see small fish around us. However, the equipment that was rented wasn't comfortable. I would definitely recommend bringing your own if you have any. Anyway, Padar island is a paradise. Just check out the pictures.
We were there around 2pm, and the sun was super strong. It was a scorcher, we were dying because of the humidity, sun, extreme high temperatures, and dehydration, but we didn't give up. We hiked to the top. The hike took around 30 minutes but we were literally dying there. The view was so worth it!
Way down was much easier because every step it got colder. Just after we reached the beach, we jumped into the water. We didn't even care about swimming suit. We just wanted our bodies to cool down.
Around 4pm it was time to head back. We had still 3 hours to get back and the weather was about to change for the worst, and it did! On the way back, it was raining. Luckily, we had a great crew that got us to the dock without any navigation equipment. It was a great day! We stayed in the hotel on Flores island and headed back to Malaysia, the first thing in the morning.