I had a dream to visit Komodo National Park and a journey to the East of Indonesia. I heard there are many beautiful places to explore. Knowing myself, when I dream of something I will make sure it becomes a reality. After a year of planning, I finally visited Komodo National Park. The view there just exceeds my expectation. I did not feel any remorse or regret except for the small fishing boat that turned into accommodation boat for 3 days and 2 nights. (well I actually wish we paid more for nicer boat…)
I was on a 9 days trip to East Indonesia which includes Lombok, Bali and Komodo National Park. As you all know, (if you notice), I really like Lombok. I even have the plan to visit the island every year. This time around, I added Komodo National Park into the list but I cannot assure if I could visit the islands every year. The cost to reach the area is quite expensive and the trip to Komodo is not that affordable too unless if you look for cheap packages that use poorly maintained boat.
The point of entry to Komodo Islands is at Labuan Bajo International Airport. We arrived there at 6pm after a few hours delay in Bali. The atmosphere was totally different then other airports in Indonesia. On the first glance it is kinda reminding me of Perth minus the crowd. The airport was small too. We were picked up by the homestay shuttle. I was actually very sick since morning. I had been vomiting a lot while transiting at I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport and almost ditch this trip and wanted to catch immediate flight to Kuala Lumpur. While still feeling sick at Labuan Bajo, I pushed myself to follow my buddies to the town and had seafood for dinner which I did not manage to finish. I was very sick at that time. When I returned to the homestay, I took a quick shower and sleep but woke up later that night throwing up all the food I ate. It was horrible and was not fun at all travelling while in sickness. I believe it was due to heat exhaustion while I was travelling in Lombok (which I will get to in other post).
I woke up feeling slightly better and hoping the condition to improve while I was on the ‘cruise’ trip. At the port, we jumped into very small boat and wondering if this will be our accommodations for the next three days. While trying to brush off that thoughts, I was amazed by the view of the town as the boat sailed to the open ocean. At the ocean, there are many small islands we had passed until the boat stopped next to a boat. Looking at the boat, I was hoping it would not be our accommodation for the next 3 days. Unfortunately, it was. I took it as a challenge and I did not have time to mourn for it while still feeling under the weather.
The view was amazing from the boat. Even though the condition of the boat was worrying, I still had fun looking at the view. Our first stop is Kanawa Island. The island is quite small but the beach and the crystal blue water were mesmerizing. The water was a bit colder compare to the ocean in Malaysia, probably the location is closer to Australia. Even though the water is crystal clear, the seabed was actually much deeper and the current was quite strong (due to geography of Komodo National Park which is a strait). Even if you walk towards the ocean from the beach, it only took few steps before submerging fully underwater.
As the day progressed, I felt better due to the vitamin sea and the view. After having lunch, we headed to Karang Makassar (Makassar Reef). At this area, we were greeted with huge manta. Even though I did not snorkel, I still could see the stingray from the boat. That is how clear the water was. I wanted to jump into the water, but the manta swam swiftly I would never be able to chase let alone swimming against the strong current. For diver, it would probably be a nice attraction to visit. Later we stopped at a sand bar which is pinkish and spent sometime there.
After Karang Makassar, we were brought to Komodo Island. The boat sailed quite slow so it took few hours to reach from one point to another. At the island, we went on land to visit the village. The village is populated with Muslims and they live happily. I could see from their faces. For outsiders, we might think they live in poverty and suffering but for them it was their way of life. Living freely without any worries. We watched sunset from the boardwalk and returned to the boat to have dinner. I slept quite early that night because without strong wifi, I could not do anything much.
The day began early. I woke up at 4am and it was still dark but could definitely see the light appearing from the horizon. Sunrise. To my surprise, the boat was already in the middle of the sea. Last night the boat anchored at the jetty. I went to the roof of the boat to witness sunrise. It was quiet and quite cold. Suddenly the engine roared breaking the quiet morning. The boat now sailed to Padar Island while I watched the sun rise. It was a surreal moment to be able to witness the sun rising at Komodo National Park.
When we arrived at Padar Island, many boats had already parked at the jetty. We could not wait anymore and immediately jumped to the jetty and hiked up before it got hotter. Since there were not much trees to block the view, we could take photo at many places especially while gasping for air. You would need to hike higher to get full panoramic view of Padar Island. You could see three beaches of pink, white and black. The view was amazing and it worth all the hassle.
We head down and had breakfast on the boat before sailed to Komodo Island to search for komodo. Our boat was slow and for every trip in between attractions would take few hours. For the trip to Komodo Park, it took about 2 hours on the boat. Staying in small boat in the middle of the ocean could be calm and stressful too at times. I tried to enjoy the time by not thinking too much. I used to work offshore and staying on a vessel for many days could affect your emotion.
At this time of the year, July to September is the mating season for komodo dragons. They would go uphill to battle out. Thankfully, there were two komodo dragons re-energized near the beach. They apparently lost the fight to mate and went downhill to regain the energy. Komodo dragons are dangerous creatures because they are known to attack humans and responsible to many deaths. One incident involved the park ranger and he almost lost his arm to the dragon. Another case was a villager fell from a tree and immediately attacked by many komodo dragons and died. That said, we need to be careful and follow the guides.
After that, we went to Pink Beach. It was indeed pink but there is a valid reason for the pink sand. The pink sand is fragments of broken red corals which is endemic to this region. The pink sand could be seen at Karang Makassar area too. It could also be found at Lombok’s own Pink Beach.
We ended the day at Komodo Village and had a good rest. It was quite a tiring day.
I woke up very early today because I went to sleep at 9pm the night before. It was still dark and the crew was not even awoke yet. That moment of silence was precious. I immediately went on the roof and wait until sunrise. The engine suddenly roared and the boat sailed slowly to the next location. This time around the journey took about 5 hours and it was dead long. With limited space on this small boat, all I could do was sleeping.
We finally arrived at Gili Lawa and began the hike to the hill. The view of this island was amazing. There was even deer in the tree shadow. It was already scorching hot by this time so the best thing I could do was to hike immediately and took photos.
I think we missed one location which is Rinca Island because of the delays on the first day but somehow, I could not wait to be on land at Labuan Bajo. Along the way back to the port, the boat stopped at Kelor Island which was flocked by many tourists. The view around this small island was amazing.
Kelor Island concludes our trip at Komodo National Park. I recommend for a visit here because of the amazing view. Still relatively untouched and you will be mesmerized by the nature.
I would love to revisit this park. This time around I don’t mind to pay more for better experience. And I would love to explore Flores Island too. I want to go to Waerebo and Kelimutu.