Let’s face it, Labuhan Bajo isn’t a particularly charming town. It’s great that you can walk from the airport to the town in 15min, but there is not much to do besides organizing your Komodo’s adventures in and around the harbour. After checking with several dive shops and local captains, we had our program down: 2D/1N on a liveabord and 2 full days of diving!
I’m on a boat!
We are excited to meet the 13 others who signed up for the liveabord adventure. As we followed the captain to the boat (the largest boat we could find to avoid the engine noise for 48hrs), we met with a family of Kiwi’s, 2 German guys, a Danish couple, 4 Italians, a Brazilian and 2 Singaporians who would be our fellow companions for this trip.
Once we left the pier and had taken our quarters, we were on cruise control… While the captain was steering the wheel and the crew busy to get the lunch ready, we drank coffee after coffee, making small talks with the other passengers admiring the patchy landscape of forest and savanna grassland.
Our first stop was small island with some nice coral for a snorkeling session. Once in the water, we saw the short-tempered clown fish, the colorful angel fish, the fluffy puffer fish and many more tropical fishes.
Back on the boat for a generous lunch, and we returned to our busy life… More coffees and more beautiful landscapes until our next destination.
Meeting the giants
We were quite lucky. More than on the volcanoes. We saw several mantas while snorkeling, some from the distance and some quite close up and impressive regardless.
Later on we were able to return to the same site but with out 12liter aluminum tanks, loaded with compressed air. And after a long wait drifting at 12-15meters deep, another giant appeared to us, this time very curious about these tiny humans stuck at the bottom of the ocean.
There is really no words to describe what we saw, you just need to experience it.
The concept of the liveabord is that you “live on board”, in layman’s terms it means that you sleep in the boat. Some had a private cabin, Soso choose the ship’s hold with A/C while I set up the hammock on the front deck. As the crew anchored the boat for the night in a calm bay on Komodo Island, we watched a crazy sunset and flying foxes leaving their caves for their nocturnal activities. And because business is business, several small vendors sailed to our boat loaded with souvenirs, chips and beer.
The next morning, we woke up with the sunrise and set sail to the National Park with the hopes to see the legendary dragons! At 7.30am, the park was still asleep and the entrance reminded us of Jurassic Park…
It took a while to get our tickets and find a local guide (#indoefficiency) but we were finally ready get on the trail. We weren’t sure if the forked stick would really save us from the Varanus komodoensis, the largest living lizard but had to trust the guides..
Almost right away on the path we spotted a small dragon, which ran off into the bushes when he noticed our group of 20 humans. It looked like a snake but it wasn’t crawling, it was walking… We were off to a good start!
We kept on walking, stumbling upon dragon’s trails and poop, and warning signs (!!), evidences that we could find some more. The hunt was on.
The trail led to an old dragon’s lair. But it’s still the mating seasons, so no eggs to be found. However, we spotted a young dragon living in the trunk of a dead tree. Since the Komodo’s are cannibals and often eat their offspring’s, the young find shelter in the trees until they are 2-3 years old.
Getting up and down the hills of Komodo is a beautiful walk through untouched landscapes.
At last, we found a couple of dragons further down the trail, dwelling in the shade of the forest. It seemed that they recently ate, at least in the last week our guide said. A deer or a water buffalo can keep a few komodos fed for several weeks. Their hunting technic: stand still for hours or days until a prey comes by. Then the attack only last an instant, as the dragons will inject their toxic saliva which will kill the prey in a matters of days.
As we exited the park, we spotted another dragon on the beach. It was a dreadful encounter as he didn’t like our little stroll on his territory.
Our boat then took us to the sister island Rinca, which is also home to the dragons.
There, biggers dragons hung near the ranger’s camp in search for water or attracted by the smell of food. If the dragons’ eyesight isn’t particularly good and their hear pretty weak, their advantage lies with their sense of smell: they taste the air with both end of their forked tongue and can detect smells in a 3 kilometers range.
We left the islands quite impressed by these creatures that have existed for over 100 millions years and could only wonder what their ancestor looked like..
A last snorkeling stop at Pink Beach and Angel Island and we were back to Labuan Bajo after this amazing adventure.
Diving the national park
For the next two days, we roamed through the waters of the Komodo national park on Iona, the largest dive boat around. The crew was fun, the briefings to the point and the underwater life spectacular!
At the surface … and underwater!
The stars of the show
In the end, the important part is to make bubbles!
As you noticed, we had an amazing time in Komodo and highly recommend the place. World class diving spots and spectacular wildlife.. We will come back for another liveaboard in Komodo National Park!
With the help of Cesar, from Gurisesconmochila.com, that shared some of his nice pics of the dragons! Best of luck in your travels!