A torrential downpour (what else is new) all the way through the mountains from Bima to Sape Harbor that stopped shortly before Sape. Sape is a small fishing port with ferries that run to Labuan Bajo. Just a reminder: Most tourists begin their Komodo and Rinca Islands explorations from Flores, end in Sape, drive 1-1/2 hours to Bima, and then fly onwards.
Our boat, the Sea Star, was waiting at the dock. The Sea Star was bigger than anticipated and made us feel more comfortable about the sea journey; especially, after we checked out ample life jackets and radio communications. The Sea Star sleeps at least 18 persons in one long room in bunks separated by a curtain; air conditioned plus a fan in the sleeping area; a toilet on the shaded main deck; and the upper deck had padded lounge chairs. This, was all ours! Captain and a crew of four were ready to make the journey comfortable. The last time we had a boat to ourselves was in Borneo visiting the Orangutans. (What a fabulous trip that was!) None of our crew spoke more than a few words of English; somehow we managed to communicate. It would have been helpful if Happy Trails had given more in-depth information on exactly what the two days included since I’m sure there were many lost in translation moments.
The crew raised anchor and we sailed off on a seven-hour ride to Komodo Island with views of Tambora Volcano. Tambora’s peak was obliterated in 1815 during one of the greatest volcanic explosions of modern times. It has been pretty quiet since then and can be climbed on a hard, two-day trip.
Komodo Island came into view two hours later, but it is a big island and took a long time to make our way around the island to Komodo National Park. We spent the day racing from side to side whenever the crew shouted, “Dolphins”; dozed on the top deck and comfortable, padded long seats in the shade when the sun became too hot; drank coffee; and munched on cookies/biscuits. A yummy lunch at noon – rice, fried shrimp, spicy noodles, vegetable stir fry, and bananas for dessert. I could easily get used to living like this.
While sitting around, the crew brought out a map of Loh Liang on Komodo Island with information about the Komodo Dragon:
- The dragon is the biggest reptile on the planet and closely related to the dinosaurs. However, it is not a dinosaur but the world’s largest lizard.
- A female lays an average of 20 eggs that she buries in deep mounds. Eight months later, the youngsters run up the nearest tree they see to avoid getting eaten. The young live in trees hunting for insects, rodents and birds until it becomes too heavy. On the ground, it begins eating wild pigs, deer, horses and buffaloes. An occasional human is also tasty if they come across one.
- These dominant predators rely on camouflage and patience, waiting for passing prey. Komodo Dragons eviscerate their victims. Even those lucky enough to escape will soon die of blood poisoning. Their saliva is filled with over 50 strains of bacteria. Yuck–ee…. Dragons will follow an escapee for miles until the animal drops dead.
- Komodo Dragons will eat 50 kilos/110 pounds in a single feeding, and then fast for one month. (I would make a good meal, however, Steve would make a better one.)
- There are approximately 3,000-5,000 Komodo Dragons on the islands of Komodo, Gila Motang, Rinca, and Flores. Komodo and Rinca are the only islands tourists are allowed to visit. This species is considered endangered.