No trip to Komodo National Park in Indonesia would be complete without a trip to Komodo itself, which is actually not the largest island in the park, nor the most populated with dragons. But the clue is in the name: the dragons do live there and so Pete and I set off to find them. Meanwhile, for other stories from our time in Indonesia, you can follow the link here.
Our last stop for the day was on Komodo island itself, to trek in search of their most famous residents once more.
We hopped off our boat at the jetty, which was enormous and apparently designed for cruise ships. Reaching the island was nice after the pure baking heat of the jetty and we passed into the shade of some scrubby looking trees and met our naturalist guide. Once again, we would be going on a “medium trek” and we set out into the brush. Everything was very dry and just crying out for the start of the rainy season. Brown leaves crunched a little underfoot and we spotted deer lurking between the trees and saw the scampering tail of the odd the departing wild boar
However, our guide pointed ahead as we rounded a bend to the watering hole: dragons. There were three of them lounging over rocks in the semi shade by a small puddle of water. They were really and truly flopped out, eyes barely open, absorbing the heat of the day. Our guide skittered his stick through the dust and the nearest one raised his head.
All three were male and despite the noise we made, they were completely uninterested in us, occasionally turning their heads in a slow arc to get a better look, but mostly ignoring us.
The guide offered to take our picture with one, and as he did so, another Komodo came sauntering out of the forest. This one was female and a little smaller but it was amazing to see her ungainly gait, legs swinging out at her sides, head swaying as she tasted the air. It’s phenomenally difficult to imagine that a creature which appears so massive and lumbering can put on a burst of speed or bring down something as flighty as a deer.
This is truly the closest I will ever get to seeing a dinosaur.
Our guide was excited, and as she walked towards him, he had Pete’s camera and took shot after shot with her advancing on him. She stopped, head up, and he instructed us to stand behind her for a picture. We did as we were bid albeit a tad nervously. Amazing pictures though! And I assure you that while the guide has messed around with perspective rather cleverly, both he and we are further away from this beastie than we look.
She moved off again and found herself a shady spot. Her hind legs shuffled outwards until she was sitting and then she lowered herself to the floor. A creature made entirely of muscle and thick hide sprawled in the sun, afraid of absolutely nothing.
This was an amazing moment and it was brilliant to see these creatures for real, so close up. Just not too close.
The rest of our little trek passed without incident. It was only at the end when crossing a bridge over a dusty riverbed that we spotted another dragon. A big one, again on the move. Our guide and several others took off after it with their tour groups. We were able to get some pictures of it on the move and it ignored us all. A couple of guides, ours includes, put phones on the floor near its path, videoing and getting some brilliant footage as it wandered incredibly close by.
Another lady shrieked though when it got close to her precious phone. She actually tried to get up to the dragon and snatch it away, but the guides grabbed hold of her, muttering “crazy lady”.
Crazy lady is right: it’s only a phone. Don’t mess with the Komodos. They literally kill people.
It was time to head back to our boat after that. We showered, consumed another mystery fruit and chocolate smoothie and munched on banana fritters. Which were topped with cheese and chocolate. Of course. Still it was exciting to peruse the photos of the dragons and to watch the sun set over Komodo, lighting the sky a brilliant pink.
P.S. You can find links to all our stories and posts from Indonesia here: Indonesian Adventures.