Komodo and Rinca Islands
Komodo dragons are wild animals, and occasionally you will read in the news that one of these creatures has attacked a tourist. Before going to Komodo (and Rinca) Island, I was a little bit scared to be honest. But let me jump ahead for a second: I am so glad I went! To see beautiful islands, crystal clear waters, breathtaking nature, and incredible wildlife- skip the Gili Islands and go to Komodo and Rinca Island instead. You will not regret it!
But now, back to the beginning! I spent my first week in Indonesia traveling around Bali and the Gili Islands, which were all nice places, but none of them took my breath away. I was actually quite disappointed to be honest. There were masses of tourists everywhere. Together with hundreds of other people, I was squeezed onto small boats when going snorkeling for example, and, as you might imagine, you will not see lots of animals in the water when there is such a big crowd of humans around. I had almost given up on Indonesia and accepted that it would not be the dream destination I had imagined, but one small part of my trip was still coming up: a flight to Labuan Bajo and from there, a two day boat trip to see Komodo and Rinca Island.
When landing in Labuan Bajo, I already noticed that a lot less tourists come here. It was a very small, quiet town, that seemed to only serve as a starting point for boat trips. There were a lot of choices, and I ended up picking a 2 day-boat-trip (one night on the boat in closed cabins). It was a very small boat with only a handful of people, and it was spectacular. What I saw during those two days even made me forget that I had to share my bed on this boat with more cockroaches than there were people on the boat.
The first stop on this two day trip was Rinca Island, one of the places that the Komodo Dragons can usually be found. When stepping onto the island, you will immediately be informed that you cannot go anywhere without a ranger, since that would be too dangerous. Also, you are supposed to inform the ranger right away if you have any open wounds (or, as a women, you are on your period), since Komodo Dragons can smell blood from kilometers away. Also, you need to listen to your ranger’s instructions and warnings carefully. When he tells you to take a few steps back, take a few steps back. When he tells you to not shove your camera in a dragon’s face, move away and have a camera with a good zoom instead. Komodo Dragons are venomous, and if they bite you, there is quite a big chance that you will die (mostly from the animals’ bacteria). Do yourself a favor and stick with your group and your ranger.
When you go on this trip, all the companies will tell you that they cannot guarantee that you will see any wildlife, but within 10 minutes on this first island, I was already able to spot at least 7 Komodo Dragons. It was incredible, and maybe still a bit scary. The rangers were amazing in telling us all about these majestic creatures, but that was not all. On Rinca Island, you have breathtaking views of oceans and island, and you will encounter more wildlife than you could have imagined. You will see deer and boars (lunch for the Komodo dragons), but also lots of birds.
After Rinca Island, we had a few stops for snorkeling, which was as amazing as seeing the island. The water was crystal clear and there were no people to be seen anywhere (except for the few from my boat). Seeing all these amazing coral reefs and the underwater life was breathtaking. Lots of colorful fish, turtles, and the occasional Manta Ray joined me while swimming and snorkeling around. Not even getting stung by a tiny (and luckily non-poisonous) jellyfish could stop my excitement!
The rest of our time at sea, we stopped at Komodo Island (which is basically like Rinca Island), experienced some more snorkeling areas, and some quiet beaches. Again, the wildlife was abundant and I could not stop staring and taking photos. I just wanted to take it all in and enjoy every second of it. My advice for all of you: When you go to Indonesia, skip the touristy areas and head to Labuan Bajo/ Komodo and Rinca Island instead. You will not regret it!