Saturday, 9 January 2010
Why on earth did I wake up at 6:00am when the alarm was set for 7:15am? The truth is that there is no answer for that, but I can only assume that it was written. For I peered out of the window and through sleepy eyes watched over the water as the rocky outcrops of Komodo grew. In an instant we were both awake, probably because I let a load of light into the cabin when I opened the curtains. Oops! Sorry. As we both continued to stare into the sea, we saw something in the water… And another something… And another something. Right beside our cabin portholes were a pod of dolphins following us and we could see their arched backs creating ripples in the water. Then suddenly one leapt right out into the air so that we could see all of its body. It was so beautiful to see them all frolicking in their liberty.
We were indeed hoping to observe some spectacular wildlife out here in Komodo, but dolphins weren’t the first things on our minds. The real draw here is the notorious Komodo dragon, Varanus komodoensis, the world’s largest living lizard species that grows up to around 3 metres long and weighs roughly 90kg. This predator is huge in itself due to its low metabolism and it thrives on carrion most of the time, but prey species such as birds, deer or boar should not let their guards down due to the fact that these monitor lizards wait to ambush them or, if they are feeling really energetic, they will actually go and hunt.
As we tendered towards this almost deserted paradise Island, there was already a prehistoric atmosphere about the place and, to be honest, I don’t think we would have been all that surprised had we seen a tyrannosaurus rex or something. In fact, it would not be a lie if we said that it looked as though we were entering the fictional Jurassic Park.
Our exploration of the island of Komodo commenced at Loh Liang, where we took a trail encompassing the Tamarind Forest, the Water Hole, Frigate Hill and ending back at the beach where we saw some Timor deer. We were told beforehand that it would not be wise to wear red clothes, nor would it be all that clever to go ashore with open wounds due to the fact that these lizards can smell blood up to 6 miles away. Blood is a sign of dinner! It was not long before we came to a clearing where there was a quaint water oasis where four large Komodo dragons were lying in wait for thirsty prey species. From the first sight, we were only too aware that these guys mean business! We kept our distance but watched for a while in a trance. One of the dragons gave us a demonstration of his forked tongue! We just couldn’t believe that we were there, on Komodo, with the Komodo Dragons in their natural habitat. Nowadays this species occurs only on three named Indonesian islands (Komodo, Rinca and Flores) and there are 17,508 islands in the entire Indonesian archipelago. Wow!
Towards the end of the trail we came upon a smaller, two-year-old dragon which was taking a stroll through the woods. Again, what a wonderful sight! To complete a truly fantastic day, the sail back west amongst this particular archipelago was truly breathtaking. The volcanic islands under the moody sky had a look of northern Norway, but the temperature outside reminded us that we were in the most beautiful part of Indonesia.