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  • Writer's pictureShacks On The Road

Komodo National Park - The Land Of Dragons

Updated: Aug 8, 2020

Taking a trip to Komodo National Park should be on your travel radar. There is nothing quite like the experience of coming face to face with a Komodo dragon or snorkeling next to a large majestic Manta ray. Our trip to Komodo National Park was a spur of the moment detour on our last World trip and one that we were glad we made.

Komodo National Park

Komodo National Park is a World Heritage Site and should be treated with respect on any visit. This place is not only a world treasure for the species it is home to above the water, but also for the beauty found below the waves. However, there is currently some confusion around new rules that the Indonesian government is putting in place for future visits to the park. In 2019 the Indonesian government briefly talked about closing the park for a year to give the islands a break from the pressure of mass tourism, but then reversed that decision a few months later. Now there is talk of a fee of around $1000 to visit the park. If this fee goes into place, it definitely will help reduce the pressure of tourism as many independent travelers will not be able to afford that price. This proposed price increase hasn't taken place yet, so you still have a chance to visit on a backpacker's budget.

Where To Stay And How To Get There

When you visit the park, you will either stay on the island of Flores and the main tourist town of Labuan Bajo or on a live-aboard boat that can be organized ahead of your visit to the park. There is also an option of staying on Kanawa Island near the border of the park, but you need to book ahead as space is limited on the island.

You can fly to Labuan Bajo from Jakarta and Denpasar as well as from other major cities in Indonesia. However, airlines in Indonesia do NOT have a stellar safety record, so do your own research as to the airlines with the best safety record and make your decision accordingly. We chose to fly with Garuda Airlines as they seemed to have a better safety record based on our research. As mentioned above, you can also hop aboard a live-aboard and travel to Komodo National Park by sea from Bali.

Visiting The Dragons

A visit to the national park revolves around checking out the dragons on the two main islands of Rinca and Komodo. When you visit the islands, you must be in a tour with a park ranger and are not allowed to wander around on your own.

There are many tour operators in Labuan Bajo that will take you to the park, but as with anything else, shop around and check out the different prices. Be sure to ask what is included in the tour as well as taking a look at what the boat looks like. There are lots of operators, so take some time to look around and compare.

That's a big Komodo

Other Suggestions:

  • We took three days to visit Komodo National Park and at a minimum, you should too. There is so much to see and trying to fit it into only one or two days is quite rushed.

  • Spend one day to visit the island of Komodo and another day to visit the island of Rinca to view the dragons. Each island deserves its own day for a visit. Remember that when you visit these two islands, you will need to do your exploring with a park ranger as your guide. A park ranger will be assigned to your group when you arrive at each island.

  • Make a stop on Padar island and do the hike to the lookout. From the lookout you get some spectacular views of the surrounding area.

The view at Padar island
  • Ask for stops at dive or snorkeling sites as part of your trip. There are some absolutely amazing places to check out the underwater scenery in the park and you will definitely be missing out on the full park experience without a stop or two to do some exploring under the waves. We aren't divers so we opted for snorkeling. We spent time snorkeling at Pink Beach, Manta Point and Kanawa Island. We actually returned to Manta Point for a second snorkel with the Mantas because we couldn't get enough on the first visit. There aren't too many experiences that can compare to swimming next to a bunch of massive Manta rays as they silently glide past you. The first time one surprises you as it swims under you from behind will definitely get the heart racing. Here is a list of some must see dive and snorkel sites according to the Stingy Nomads.

  • REPEAT - Make sure to snorkel or dive with the Manta rays. You will not regret taking this opportunity! Komodo National Park is also home to Whale Sharks. Ask if you are visiting during the right time to see them.

  • Do make a stop at Pink Beach. This was the first pink beach we had ever seen and it was definitely worth a visit. We hit the beach at the right time and the color really stood out on our visit. We also did some great snorkeling right off the beach.

  • Look out for some of the other interesting wildlife that inhabit the islands. On our trip we saw some flying lizards, fruit bats and a few Timor deer. We even had a Spitting cobra slither across the trail while we were exploring with our guide. It was definitely cool to see the cobra, but a little too close for comfort. It was seriously just inches away from our feet as we were walking along a trail. Another important reason to stay close to your guide.

A flying lizard

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