– JUNE 14, 2015
Today we booked tours of Komodo Island and Rinca Island, with a snorkeling diving stop at Pink Beach…it was a long day. We had to be at the travel agency at 5:00am to meet the crew, then walk together down to the marina. The boat was a small wooden vessel with a loud gasoline motor. It took 3.5 hours to cruise to Komodo Island, our first stop.
Komodo Island is one of the protected homes of the Komodo Dragon. Here the native wildlife that make up the majority of the Komodo Dragon diet are birds, wild hogs, deer and buffalo. It also contains snakes…and while on the 2 hour hike I saw a one of the world’s deadliest snakes slither right by my feet only 8 inches away from me. The guide freaked out and told me it was a viper and the guides on Komodo Island do not have any anti-venom on the island. I was lucky, as the guide told me stories of people being bitten by vipers without immediate anti-venom, where they wait a day for treatment and by then the skin around the bite dies. Then surgeons have to remove the skin and muscles right down to the bone to stop the infection, then perform a skin graft over the removed portion. Loss of limbs and even death can also result (one person died there within 15 minutes of the bite).
The komodo dragons protect the eggs, but once they hatch the young are completely on their own to fend for themselves. The young dragons are able to climb up trees to escape being eaten by larger komodo dragons (once they reach 14 months they are too large to climb trees anymore). There are a special tree type on the island that dies pretty quickly, then stays as a pole for the young komodo dragons to hollow out at the top and make themselves a small home inside the tree. They eat birds, geckos, and insects to sustain themselves. Once they reach 10-12 months old they climb down and stay on the ground.
The guide told us how lucky we were as we saw many Komodo Dragons, two dragons fighting (they said this almost never happens in front of people), two dragons having sex, and two dragons charged at our group (it was pretty frightening…these dragons are bigger than they look on the pictures).
Then we boarded the boat and rode for an hour to Pink Beach. The sand here is pink in colour, as red coral breaks into tiny pieces and washes up on shore to mix with the white silica sand to make a pinkish tinge to the beach appearance. Its a very neat effect and Jill had to take a Ziploc bag of the sand to bring home with us.
Then we rode for another 2.5 hours to reach Rinca Island. Rinca Island is famous for also holding Komodo Dragons, but its much smaller than Komodo Island. That means the chances of seeing Komodo Dragons is higher at Rinca Island than it is at Komodo Island (although we were fortunate to see lots at Komodo Island). At Rinca Island they have raised buildings for tourists to stay in…but this area has been overrun by Komodo Dragons since they can smell the kitchen odors. You have to hire a guide when you arrive, then he takes you through the entrance gate and into the Komodo territory.
The pictures below are taken right in the heart of the cabins. If you stayed here and forgot at night where you were, you might leave the cabin and walk right into a grouping of Komodo Dragons. They would tear a person apart with ease…so this made no sense to me at all. We did not stay here, we just came through on our day trip.
It was a long day….started at 5:00am and returned to the main land at 6:00pm. Most people only do Rinca Island or Komodo Island on a day trip, but we did it all in one day. We believe that this was perfect for us to do in one day, but it had lots of time riding on the boat.
To kill the riding time I read a book given to me by my friend Scott Chatterton. I brought it with me on the trip, but hadn’t really gotten into it until this day. It was called “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth” by Chris Hadfield. It was a great read about his space exploration experiences, but also for his personal viewpoint of sweating the small stuff and always thinking of possible outcomes to be prepared when the actual event comes. Thank you Scott for this gift…it was a good read and I am glad you thought of me when you read it.
Next we have a daytrip planned to do some snorkelling at the best locations in this area (the eastern islands of Indonesia).
For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.