Thursday, 22 September 2011

Komodo Island : Big lizards behind the beauty of nature

Komodo National Park lies in the Wallacea Region of Indonesia, identified by WWF and Conservation International as a global conservation priority area.  The Park is located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores at the border of the Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) and Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTP) provinces. It includes three major islands, Komodo, Rinca and Padar, and numerous smaller islands together totaling 603 km2 of land. The islands of Komodo and Rinca, their jagged hills carpeted with savannah and fringed with mangroves, are home to a few hundred fishermen and the legendary Komodo dragon .

Komodo island
Komodo Island

The world’s largest lizard, known locally as ora, it can reach over 3m in length and weigh up to 100kg. It hunts alone and feeds on animals as large as deer and buffalo, both of which are found here. The males also try to eat the females’ eggs, inevitably sparking a vicious battle of the sexes.These isolated islands are surrounded by some of the most tempestuous waters in Indonesia.

The convergence of warm and cold water currents breeds nutritious thermal climes, rip tides and whirlpools that attract large schools of pelagics, from dolphins and sharks to manta rays and blue whales. The coral here is pristine. Add it all up and you have some ofthe best diving in the world, which is why live aboards based in Bali and Lombok ply these waters between April and September when the crossing is smooth and the diving at its finest.


Komodo National Park
This national park (, a Unesco World Heritage site, encompasses komodo, Rinca, several neighbouring islands, and their incredibly rich marine ecosystem. A three-day visitor permit includes your park entrance fee (40,000Rp adult or child) and the conservation fee (US$20 adult/US$10 child), collected on arrival by rangers.
A short, guided dragon-spotting trek is included with your entrance fee. For a longer, hour-long trek on Rinca you’ll pay an additional 50,000Rp. On Komodo, where the hiking is superb, you can pay from 50,000Rp to 250,000Rp for guided treks that range from flat 3km strolls to steep 10km hikes up and over peaks and into deep valleys. Arrange your trek upon registration in Komodo.

All guides speak some English and they are very knowledgeable about the islands’ flora and fauna. A camera permit is another 25,000Rp. Komodo is one of the driest corners of Nusa Tenggara, and heavy rains are not common. However, the seas are calmest between April and September.


Komodo dragons
Komodo Dragons
There were rumours of these awesome creatures long before their existence was confirmed in the West . Fishers and pearl divers working in the area had brought back tales of ferocious lizards with enormous claws, fearsome teeth and forked yellow tongues. One theory holds that the Chinese dragon is based on the Komodo lizard. The first Dutch expedition to the island was in 1910 , two of the dragons were shot and their skins taken to Java, resulting in the first published description. The Komodo dragon is actually a monitor lizard. All monitors have some things in common: the head is tapered, the ear openings are visible, the neck is long and slender, the eyes have eyelids and round pupils, and the jaws are powerful. But the dragons also have massive bodies, powerful legs (each with five-clawed toes) and long, thick tails (which function as rudders underwater, but can also be used for grasping or as a potent weapon).

The body is covered in small, non-overlapping scales; some may be spiny, others raised and bony.The dragons’ legs allow them to sprint short distances, lifting their tails as they run. When threatened, they’ll take refuge in their normal resting places – holes, trees (for the smaller ones) or water. They are dangerous if driven into a corner and will then attack even a much larger opponent. Komodo dragons often rise up on their hind legs just before attacking, and the tail can deliver well-aimed blows that will knock down a weaker adversary. Their best weapons are their sharp teeth and dagger-sharp claws, which can inflict severe wounds.

komodo Dragons-2
Hunt and eat.
Komodo dragons have a very keen sense of smell. All monitors feed on other animals – small ones on insects, larger ones on frogs and birds, and the ora (the local name for the dragon) on deer, wild pig and water buffalo. Ora can expand their jaws considerably, enabling them to swallow prey as large as a goat. To tackle even bigger prey, they ambush their victim, bite it and wait for the potent bacteria their mouths contain to take effect – waiting around for up to two weeks for a buffalo to die – before tucking in. Mature dragons are also cannibalistic, and small ora live the first five years of their lives up in trees for safety, not moving to ground level until they are 1m in length. Of all the monitors, the ora lay the largest eggs – around 90mm long and weighing around 200g.

The female lays 15 to 30 eggs at a time and often buries them in the wall of a dry river. She then protects her cache for three months from predators – including male dragons. The incubation period is nine months. Komodo dragons are not relics of the dinosaur age; they’re remarkably versatile, hardy modernlizards, if not exactly sensitive and New Age. Why they exist only on and around Komodo is a mystery, as is why males outnumber females by a ratio of 3.4 to one. Around 1300 ora live onKomodo, perhaps 1100 on Rinca and a small number (around 50) on the west coast of Flores. Today the ora are a protected species.


Komodo National Park has some of the most exhilarating scuba diving in Indonesia. It’s a region swept by strong currents and cold upswellings, created by the convergence of the warmer Flores Sea and the cooler Selat Sumba (Sumba Strait) – conditions that create rich plankton soup and an astonishing diversity of marine life. Mantas and whales are drawn here to feed on the plankton during their migration from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea, while dolphins are also common in the waters between Komodo and Flores. Among the several dozen dive sites mapped in the park are Batu Bolong, a split pinnacle with absolutely pristine coral and, compared to elsewhere in the park, light current; Crystal Bommie (aka Crystal Rock), with electric soft corals, turtles and schooling pelagics.

you will saw 19 reef and grey sharks in one dive. The currents are strong here and at Castle Rock (aka Tako Toko Toko), a tremendous sunrise dive site where, with a little luck, you’ll dive with dolphins. Then there’s The Cauldron, aka Manta Soupa a shallow drift dive over white sand where massive manta rays school and clean themselves on the rocks. If you’ve never seen mantas before, dive here. It’s guaranteed.


Diving map

Tanjung Rusa
A variety of small invertebrates and fish, including sharks and giant trevally, are visible while snorkeling the rocky slopes. Deeper diving to 40m reveals many coral trout, large groupers, schools of giant trevally, and massive dogtooth tuna.
Fantastic diving and snorkeling. Ideal entry is approximately 100m south of the bay’s western point. Once you have rounded the point, continue diving westwards. The shallow reef at the end of the dive is an excellent coral garden. Strong currents and sometimes down-currents can be experienced on the point. Recommended time to dive is during slack-tide.

Pantai Merah/ Pink Beach
There as a great variety of fishes here and also a good selection of critters such as leaf scorpionfish, blue ribbon eels, crocodile fish, nudibranchs, and more. Visibility varies but is best during falling tide.
This is the most frequently visited site in the Park for snorkeling and diving. Snorkeling is excellent from the beach and there is a very good dive around a small area of reef around a steep rocky wall which is visible from the surface of the water at low tide. This site is also a very good night dive and offers excellent macro-photography opportunities. Several mooring buoys are stationed at this site.

Karang Makasar
This site is for snorkling only, please don’t dive here as it will disturb the manta rays. The reef does not have much in the way of coral or fish life however this location is manta ray aggregation site. The best way to find the mantas is to cruise along the eastern face of the reef until you see them on the surface. The best time is during rising tide. Sometimes there can be between 40 to 50 mantas.

Mini Wall
The whole north face of this island is good diving. There are garden eels on the sandy slopes, and shrimp gobies and sweetlips are common. Occasionally, mandarin fish have been spotted in shallow water. This site also features beautiful coral gardens with a high abundance of both hard and soft corals.
This dive is an excellent refresher/check-out dive or just a nice easy dive with good visibility, calm conditions and no current. The diving entry point is marked by a long, low, rocky point east of the beach, which is at the center of the island’s northern coast.

Enter just on the eastern side of the point and swim counter-clockwise around the point at 20-25 m depth . Once around the point the reef slope will turn into a wall that drops to about 35 m depth. The wall continues to a sandy slope in front of the beach, which marks the end of the dive. A second dive can begin at the sandy slope and continue counter-clockwise across the front face of the beach to where the reef turns north and juts out to another point.

Crystal Rock
A very colorful dive with excellent soft coral coverage. Clouds of anthias and schools of yellow-ribbon sweetlips are always encountered while frogfish, moray eels and scorpionfish are commonly seen. There is a small mound northwest of the rock where different species of fish school seasonally, including tuna and mackerel.
An excellent dive usually worth doing twice. This name of this site is from the very clear water surrounding it. The top of the site is exposed at low tide. This site is prone to currents, which usually flow eastwards. Best time to dive is during slacktide.

And many more diving sites you can explore near komodo island .

How to Get There
While most visitors enter Komodo National Park (KNP) through the gateway cities of Labuan Bajo in the west of Flores or Bima in eastern Sumbawa, the departure point for your trip is actually Denpasar, Bali.

By Air:

Indonesia Air Transport (IAT)
Depart :
DPS - LBJ : 10.00 – 11.30
LBJ - DPS : 12.00 – 13.30
Y CLASS : IDR 751.000
H CLASS : IDR 696.000

Trans Nusa Airlines (TGN)
DPS – LBJ : 10.00 – 11.50 & 13.00 – 14.20
LBJ – DPS VIA BMU (BIMA) : 12.05 - 12.35
BMU-DPS : 12.50 – 13.45
LBJ – DPS : 14.35 – 15.15
Y CLASS : IDR 761.000
L CLASS : IDR 651.000
M CLASS :IDR 541.000

By Land:
The gateway cities of Labuan Bajo and Bima are connected to Denpasar, Bali by overland buses.

By Sea (ferry):
Travel time: approximately 36 hours
The gateway cities of Labuan Bajo and Bima are also connected to Denpasar, Bali by inter-island ferry.
Contact the Indonesia Sea Transportation Company (PELNI) at Jalan Raya Kuta No. 299, Tuban - Bali (Tel: 0361 - 763 963) to reserve a seat on the KM. Tilong Kabila, which departs Benoa Port, Bali bound for Bima and Labuan Bajo

Benoa-Bima-Labuan Bajo
Fortnightly (every two weeks) on Saturdays: 09.00-20.00 (next day).
One-way ticket (as of 10/6/06) from Rp. 143,000.00 - Rp. 435,000.00

Labuan Bajo-Bima-Benoa
Fortnightly (every two weeks) on Thursdays: 08.00-11.00 (next day).
One-way ticket (as of 10/6/06) from Rp. 143,000.00 - Rp. 435,000.00

Note: the ferry schedule and ticket prices may change with or without prior notice

By Sea (live-aboard):
Komodo National Park is serviced by a wide range of live-aboard boats, with return packages to Komodo National Park from a variety of departure points, including Bali, Lombok, Bima and Labuan Bajo
Prices (as of 10/6/06) are ranging from USD 230.00 - USD 295.00 / person / night.

From Gateway Cities to Komodo National Park (KNP)
You can easily organize a shared boat charter by local boat from either ports at Labuan Bajo or Bima (Sape) to the two major points of access in the Park: Loh Liang (on Komodo Island) or Loh Buaya (on Rinca Island)
Charter price (as of 10/6/06) - excluding meals, KNP entrance fee etc:
Labuan Bajo: KNP: Rp. 750,000 - 1,500,000 per boat / day
Bima (Sape): KNP: Rp. 1,500.000 - 2,000.000 per boat / day

Note: the charter prices may change with or without prior notice

Tips to be more safely in Komodo island

Walking in the group. When trekking, stay in the group because of dragons attacking prey alone.

"Ranger" as a guide. Never far from the ranger who act as guides. Ranger is experienced in dealing with dragons. Generally, ranger armed with a wooden stick with a forked tip. This stick serves to dispel dragons.

Do not noisy and do not use perfume. Komodo has a keen hearing and smell. Therefore, be quiet while in the group. In addition, several ranger also advised not to wear perfume that is too stinging because of smell can lure dragons.

Like a chameleon, a deceptive silence. Beware when walking. The figure of dragons while napping briefly as dust or dry logs. Could accidentally, you step on the dragons. If you see dragons in a careless position, be careful. He is clever trick. In no standby position, he was actually waiting for unsuspecting prey.

Do not make sudden movements. Komodo usually calm if there are people passing by, the origin is not disturbed. One is a sudden movement. Therefore, do not run. The reason is, this movement can actually make you chase by the dragons.

If chased by komodo dragons? Run in a zig-zag. Komodo can not run in a zig-zag, and he'll turn distress. However, do not underestimate the speed of dragons. He was able to run 18 kilometers per hour.

Climbed to higher ground. If chased by dragons, come up to the house on stilts that are near you. Generally, buildings in this area like a house built in the shape of the stage. With this, dragons will have difficulty climbing stairs. However, be careful because dragons like shelter under the building. Do not go up into the tree because dragons ages one to two years are good climbing trees. Komodo age is forced to climb trees to avoid adult dragons. Komodo dragons are animals that can eat cannibals dragons wich are weaker than himself.

Women who menstruate. Komodo is very sensitive to the smell of blood. If he smells blood, he will instinctively look for it as prey. Therefore, women who are menstruating should report to the ranger. This needs to be on guard ranger. Women who are menstruating should keep doing trekking. However, it should not be at the beginning of menstruation .

Do not start a fire. This area is very dry and barren. Therefore, do not smoke or light a fire. A particle of fire could lead to fires in the region. These islands are vulnerable to fire hazards.

Use appropriate clothing. Cotton clothing that absorbs sweat is highly recommended for use while doing trekking. The sun is very hot and dry air here, too. Use a sunblock and a hat anyway. There's a good idea to wear long pants and long sleeves. To make it easier when walking, use the mountain sandals and sports shoes.

Bring a camera. Objects that must be taken of course the camera. No need to hesitate to bring a tripod and a telephoto lens because you want to photograph not only dragons, but also the view from a height, rare birds and other wildlife. If you have one, bring a waterproof camera also can be used in deep water. While visiting the island of Komodo, do not complete it if did not feel the snorkeling and diving.


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