Friday, 18 July 2008

11 July 2008 – Journey to Komodo (Part 3)

Read our komodo adventure from the beginning.

At 7.00am on the final morning, we arrived at the parched island of Komodo. An air of expectancy filled the boat, mixed with resignation that we might not see any dragons. With a guide and his stick – in case of emergencies – we headed off on a trek of the island. Within minutes we saw our first dragon. By the main buildings, a large male was sleeping off the pig which he had eaten two days before. Its docile behaviour was just camouflage.

Further on, we came across a female who performed for the cameras. Turning to face the crowd, posing, and then walking off into the undergrowth. Walking up a dry river bed, we passed a series of holes in the banks. These were abandoned nests where the females lay their eggs.

After a couple of hours we returned to the boat, having learnt of the eight recorded attacks by Komodo dragons resulting in three deaths. The most interesting was Swiss Baron Ranulph, who became separated from his group in 1974, never to be seen again.

After a short sailing, we stopped at Red Beach also on Komodo Island – a sandy white beach with speckles of red in the sand. Beautiful snorkelling from the beach brought home how devastated some areas of Indonesia have become through dynamite fishing. After an hour, we left for Labuanbajo on Flores, our final destination.

By 3pm we were in the small port and were shuttled by the small boats into town. At our hotel, we were relieved to find that our reservation had worked. Others from the boat had been less successful even though they had phoned ahead. The reservation system appeared to be small bits of paper on a desk, ready to be blown away in the slightest breeze.

The farewell party on the boat was an opportunity to reflect back on the trip. Relief that we had arrived safely (it was worth paying the extra for a seaworthy boat) and that we had seen some dragons. We also met many great people – Ken and Natalie from Australia who were were very well informed about the fate of Australia's indigenous people, Hans and Herman from Germany who had been together for 43 years, John and Malin from Sweden who shared the traumas of the sleeping deck, and many others.

We were now on the island of Flores, ready to begin the next part of our travels.