25 August 2007

Komodo National Park

Anchored off Ranger Station,
Anchorage #39 in "101 Anchorages Within The Indonesian Archipelago" by Geoff Wilson

Rinca Island
East Nusa Tenggara


DRAGONS! Yesterday we spent the most amazing afternoon at Komodo National Park. We are at Loh Buaya Bay at on the island of Rinca. We arrived to our anchorage after motoring into a 20 knot head wind. We dropped the hook, had some lunch, then headed into the ranger station with our friends from Uterus. Once tying the dinghy's securely to the dock and taking maybe 5 steps on land we were greeted by a Komodo Dragon! There were plenty of locals hanging out, and without them pointing this dragon out, we would have never seen her. But she sure saw us! With our hearts pumping a bit faster than normal, we headed off on the track to the ranger station.

As we were walking the track we were wondering how long they were going to let us be on our own. For now we fear we are surrounded by dragons. The track then filled up with monkeys! Now we were really freaking out because the monkeys are where we needed to go. As we got closer, they would run off into the trees.

After making it to the ranger station, paying all our fees (park fee, guide fee, anchoring fee), we hung out at the cafe for about an hour. We had read it is best to view the dragons either early morning or in the late afternoon. So while we sat at the cafe, we watched the monkeys and saw two small dragons.

At 3:30pm we joined our guides for our 2 hour walk through the World Heritage listed Komodo National Park. This area and island is better to view the dragons because the dragons seem to all live in one area, near the dried up river bed. Over on the island of Komodo the dragons roam a huge area. So it makes it much more difficult to spot a dragon there.

We had no trouble spotting any dragons. In total we saw 13 Komodo Dragons! Before we even got on the path, we saw 6 hanging around the camp's kitchen area. Once we started down the path, our guide told us we needed to remain quite because we were entering the 'outback' and we should try not to disturb the animals in their natural habitat.

The island is dry and hilly, with overgrown dry brush, and an occasional palm tree. It gives you a real feeling of being on safari in Africa. We weren't on the trail long when the guide slowed down and we all started to tip-toe through the brush. We saw a very large female Komodo Dragon digging holes to lay her eggs in. The females dig many holes to confuse predators and to protect their unborn. Watching this large beast dig away was quite a spectacle!

Throughout the day we saw more dragons, monkeys, and even a water buffalo. Getting as close as we did to these flesh eating dragons was an experience we will never forget!

Love to all,

Amy and Tom

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