Komodo National Park is made up of a stunning archipelago of islands between Flores and Sumbawa, Komodo island the largest. The cruising reports we’ve read talk about the brown, arid landscape- but what we find is lush and green, well watered from the end of the recent rainy season. Another advantage to traveling off the schedule.
We originally anticipated having several days to explore different islands and anchorages within Komodo National Park, but life had other plans- so we made the most with what we had, a day at Komodo while anchored near Pantai Merah, aka the “pink beach.”
The park is well set up for tourists and gets thousands every year, but the docks at the ranger station were quiet during our off-season visit. We disembarked, and after buying a silly number of tickets to cover different park fees, departed on a hike with our guide in search of the famous Komodo dragons. He carried a big stick- literally- to fend off any dragons that got too curious.
The ranger was full of fascinating information about the island’s flora and fauna. Somehow it’s the poo that everyone remembers best. The color of Komodo dragon scat tells us what it was eating: black for boars, white for deer (presumably the bones).
There are periodic fatalities, nearly all from the village on Komodo, so we took the signs seriously.
Several people have been attacked by dragons already this year- we know of two rangers on Rinca, and one elderly woman from Komodo. Apparently, she fought the dragon off!
For the most part, our hike is an uneventful stroll through gentle hills with expansive views of the islands. It’s hard to completely relax, given the big stick and the possibility of these speedy monitors deciding to have us for a snack, but it’s a beautiful morning. When we do eventually see dragons, it is a complete surprise to me- kind of a shock, actually. We would have walked right past this one if the ranger hadn’t stopped us- without looking closely, it appears to be another log on the ground.
Yikes. A face only a mother could love, except they don’t either- they’ll eat their young, so the juveniles spend most of their first few years up in trees.
The less romantic side of this story is the dragons we finally do see are all back near the ranger’s quarters… a favorite spot, apparently, since they are attracted by the smell of food (plump tourists?). Of course, we have to take a picture near the dragon. This strikes me as a bad parenting moment, but I can’t help it.
Later, we retreat to Totem and refresh from hiking in the azure waters. We’ve paid our snorkeling fee and by golly we’re going to use it! The pink beach didn’t look like much from our anchorage, but it turns out to be a pretty spot- and it really is pink, after all.
A sea snake decides to hide in the decides to hide under our dinghy at the water’s edge.
I’ve had my fill of dangerous animals for the day and decide to get in the water instead. Where, you know, there aren’t so many dangerous animals- right?
OK, so maybe some very annoying animals.
But there are stunning corals…
Games of hide-and-seek…
And a coral head with the biggest population of anenomefish I’ve ever seen.