Fighting Komodo Dragons!

I feel like I say this every time I come home from a trip, but last week I had one of my best nature experiences so far in Indonesia (maybe in my life). I went to visit the real Jurassic Park, also known as Komodo National Park. This awesome group of islands are located in the western part of the Eastern Southeastern Islands in Indonesia (gotta love the province names in this country), just west of Flores. Let’s start with a map:

We didn’t have a map on the boat, but I took  a picture of this one in the ranger’s office. The trip started and ended in Labuan Bajo (top right corner). You can fly there directly from Bali with Wings Air or Garuda. We visited Rinca, Padar and Komodo Island, and a few smaller ones. We went on “Komodo Trip 3 Days/2 Nights” with Discover Komodo Adventure, I highly recommend using them for your Komodo trip!
“We” were me and two of my childhood friends from Norway. They had one week in Indonesia, and I tried to plan that week to make their stay as cool as possible. If you have one or two weeks in Indonesia, please don’t spend it all in Bali. There are so many other amazing places to visit in this country, Komodo is only one of them.
Perhaps the most obvious reason to visit these islands is to see the Komodo Dragons. They are the biggest living lizards in the world, and they can only be found here. According to our guides they are usually pretty calm, and most of the dragons we saw were just laying around, but we were lucky enough to stumble upon two fighting Dragons on Rinca Island. They lost focus on the fight a few times and came running straight towards us. If a Komodo Dragon bites you the poison and bacteria in its mouth will make you bleed to death over the course of three days, if not treated correctly. Needless to say, this was quite exciting!
Even our guide was excited about seeing the fight. All the guides are carrying wooden sticks to protect themselves and their guests from the dinosaurs. This day he actually got to use it.
Seeing the dragons is not the only reason to visit this place. We anchored up to watch the beautiful sunset and hundreds of flying foxes taking off and flying into the night looking for fruits (or whatever bats eat). Taking pictures of flying bats in the dark from a boat is not easy, so you just have to take my word for it. It was pretty cool.
The hikes we did were not very challenging, but extremely rewarding. Here we are on our way down from our morning hike to the viewpoint on Padar Island. Bring a pair of shoes, walking up these hills wearing flip-flops is not comfortable.
There’s a lot of interesting things to see in the water too. Some of our under-water-highlights were seeing manta rays, dolphins, turtles, a sea snake and baby reef sharks. The boat provided snorkeling gear, and we had a few good snorkeling spots in the program.

My underwater camera is definitely the weakest link in my camera bag. Feel free to suggest a good and convenient underwater camera solution! I am currently using GoPro Session, and I’m not impressed by it’s performance under the surface.

The white sand mixed with crushed red corals is what makes this beach look pink. There are a lot of beautiful beaches in the area. We stayed here for a few hours. This place is excellent for flying drones, snorkeling, jumping off the boat and eating lunch.
The traditional village on Komodo Island was full of friendly faces, just like the rest of this country. These kids wanted me to take their picture, how could I say no to that?
While watching another amazing sunset from the boat, a bunch of dolphins showed up. Seeing them never gets old…
A Komodo Lady Dragon on her morning stroll on Komodo Island. I used to love dinosaurs when I was a kid, finally I got to meet them in person. Where can I find the T-rex?
I almost stepped on this sneaky little thing. I wonder if it’s dangerous?
Two Manta Rays showed up and took us for a guided tour over their reef.
This is one of my human friends and our new Manta Ray friends swimming together. Don’t mind the quality in this picture, check out the awesome nature experience!
Last stop on the three days trip was this little island. There are plenty more just like it. This is where we saw sharks. They were swimming around only a few meters from the beach. How cool is that?
Many thanks to our captain for navigating us safely from one awesome spot to another. The whole crew were super friendly and always helpful. The food was delicious, and the beer we brought was kept cold. Good people, tasty food and cold beer – what more could you ask for?
This is our guide sitting on the tip of the boat. He didn’t know how to swim. Other than that, he was perfect for the job! Thanks for a great trip, hope to see you again soon!

Komodo National Park is awesome both above and below the surface. I actually can’t believe we got to see and do all of this in only three days. I highly recommend going there! I think I might go back after the rainy season to see how this place looks like when it has turned all green. Next time I might add some diving to the program too, and perhaps the adventure hike on Komodo Island. I will happily accept any dive-resort/dive-boat recommendations for the area, and some tips about the Adventure Hike on Komodo Island. Hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Best regards,

Ronny Goreng.

Etc Hiking

9 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Fantastic trip and photos, Ronny! I also use a GoPro for underwater shoots and found that the pictures look better if I correct white balance to get rid of that blue cast. A spot removal tool is also useful when the waters are murkier.

    • Thanks a lot! I’ve tried correcting the white balance, but I feel like the quality suffers even more when I do that to non raw files. I have the Session 4, so it’s not possible to shoot raw (as far as I know). Maybe the 5 and Session 5 will be better suited. Spot removal is def a good suggestion, thanks 🙂

  2. slangen som du nesten tråkka på er en sea snake, tror jeg . ikke aggressiv men veldig giftig. for ca 2 år siden… vi holdt på å bade med ungene i sawarna da vi så en slik en. den lå og slappet av på revet like ved. tok bilder og sjekket opp på nettet senere. men jeg har ikke sett den i etterkant

    • Det er vel akkurat i slike situasjoner man kan risikere å bli bitt. Den så ikke ut til å bry seg stort over mitt nærvær, men det hadde kanskje blitt en annen reaksjon hvis jeg trampa rett på den! Hatt bra bølger i Sawarna i det siste?

  3. Søk på sea snakes asia på google med bilde så får du mange treff og gode sider. Ellers mye bra surf siste 2-3 ukene. Før det var det en del stormer ute i havet og mye skvappel og onshore, Men har hatt 30 dager i vannet på rad og er generelt storfornøyd. Formen begynner å bli bra..

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