The principal reason people come to Komodo is to see the illustrious Komodo dragon. But there is more to the reserve than giant lizards - there is also good trekking, swimming and snorkelling. The park covers 59,000 ha, and is made up not just of Komodo Island, but also Rinca and a number of other surrounding islets. The highest peak on this rugged spot is Mount Satalibo (735 m).
It is necessary to charter a boat from Labuanbajo (visit the Komodo Park offices in Labuanbajo for advice), or join a tour to get to the island. The rich and famous arrive direct by helicopter.
Komodo National Park
After the luxuriant vegetation of Bali, Komodo can come as a bit of a shock - at least during the dry season. The islands of the Komodo archipelago are dry and rainfall is highly seasonal. For much of the year, therefore, the grasslands are burnt to dust and interspersed with drought-resistant savannah trees such as the distinctive lontar palm. In contrast the seas are highly productive, so there is good snorkelling, particularly off
- a small island near Komodo village. The iridescent blue of the water, set against the dull brown of the islands, provides a striking backdrop. However, this image of Komodo as barren is transformed during the short wet season, when rainfall encourages rapid growth and the formerly parched landscape becomes green and lush.
Despite the other attractions of Komodo, it is still the
that steal the show. They are easily seen, with Timor deer (their chief natural prey) wandering among them. Other wildlife includes land crabs, wild pigs, black drongos, white-bellied sea eagles, and cockatoos, evidence that this is part of the Australasian faunal world. Monkeys are absent.
The most accessible viewing spot is the dry river bed at
, 30 minutes' walk (2 km) from the accommodation at Loh Liang. Guides can take you there for a small fee, depending on the size of your group.
Visitors are only allowed to walk alone along marked trails. Those wishing to hike off the trails, and see the dragons in a more natural setting, must hire a guide. This is not just to generate income for the wardens; there have been fatalities. There is a reasonably good chance of spotting a dragon and even if you don't, you will see plenty of other wildlife. There is a short 30-minute walk along the beach from Loh Liang bungalows to the stilt village of
, which can be done without a guide.
can be climbed in less than two hours (8.5 km to the summit)
This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF