05 July 2015

Komodo National Park - There ARE Dragons in those hills

A big female Komodo Dragon, basking in the sun.
We spent a couple weeks in Komodo National Park, and enjoyed greatly the opportunity to get off the boat and hike a bit.  We took guided hikes on both Rinca and Komodo Islands.  They say it is not safe to hike on your own, due to the Komodo dragons, and it was of course interesting to learn about the area and wildlife from our guides.  It was great to get some time to explore on the shore. 

View from the Komodo Ranger Station

We were fortunate to see five ‘dragons’ during our hikes.  They are really quite impressive, and apparently hunt mainly deer, but also water buffalo, wild pigs and other prey.  On Rinca Island, we saw lots of wildlife, including monkeys, fruit bats, water buffalo and many birds of prey.

The Komodo Dragons are a very large species of monitor lizard, found on only five islands in the area. They are huge, growing up to 10 feet long and weighing up to 150 lbs.  Meat eaters, they lay in ambush of large prey.  Only four to five thousand dragons live in the wild.  Only about 350 breeding females remain in the population .  The Komodo National Park was formed in 1980 to address concerns of the declining population.

Local merchants ready to make a deal as we are trying to anchor
Once we moved on to the larger Komodo Island, we were near a village, so we had a lot of visitors trying to sell us pearls and wooden carvings of Komodo Dragons.  As we turned the corner in to the main bay near Komodo Village, we immediately received the attention of more than a dozen local boats and canoes.  There were no other foreign yachts in the area that we saw anyway, so the arrival of one was a big event for the local merchants.

More pearls and wooden carvings to sell.

Everyone was looking to make a deal, and they were mostly selling pearls and wooden carvings....although one  bright local entrepreneur was selling cold Bintang (a good local beer), chips and other food items.  One boat showed us the way to a local vacant mooring, and soon we had a dozen or more boats hanging on to our boat trying to make a sale.  A common refrain is 'one-by-one', which is a request to buy something from everyone, loosely translated as 'please don't spend all of your money with one merchant'"! Lynn, every time I hear the locals call out 'one-by-one' it reminds me of you and your business name.   Needless to say, we did end up purchasing more pearls than I could ever possibly wear...and we have a few wooden dragons on Katmai too (and a couple of Bintangs of course)!
Beautiful moon over Komodo Village from our mooring. 
Can't beat this view for a 'sundowner'.

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