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Komodo dragons!

Written on: Monday October 6th, 2008

There are only two places in the world that komodo dragons live in their natural habitat: one is the legendary Komodo Island, Indonesia, while the other is the neighboring island of Rinca. Based upon our overall timeline, and the likelihood of seeing dragons, we chose to visit Rinca Island.

Yesterday mom and I boarded an early morning flight to Labuhan Bajo, on the island of Flores, gateway to the home of the dragons. After getting off the plane we were transferred to a hand crafted wooden boat that sputtered along for two and a half hours before arriving to Rinca Island.

The island itself was magnificent...everything I thought it would be. This being the heart of the dry season on Rinca, the terrain was parched and desolate. There were faded grasses and dried up river beds...perfect conditions to stalk the monsters!

Our first sighting was a large, active male right on the grounds of the ranger station! We ventured close enough to get some photos, but still allowed for ample 'get-away' space should he decide to charge. Overall we saw five dragons before even venturing into the bush. It was a good start to a wonderful afternoon. Soon we were hiking over the fields, across the empty river beds and to the top of hills. We saw many dragons and even a few nests, with the resident females still hanging about, guarding their territories.

When a female makes a next, she actually digs several holes (maybe seven or eight based upon what we saw). Only one of these hides the location of the eggs, while the others serve as decoys to any would be predators. She protects the nest until the eggs hatch...anywhere from 15-30 of them. When the babies are born, they are on their own; they take to the trees for their first two years of life, staying out of the way of all predators, including male dragons.

As we ventured along in the sweltering heat, we continued to be delighted by the sight of more dragons and beautiful terrain. Eventually we made it back to the ranger station, where we attempted to cool off before trekking back to the boat. One final sighting of a dragon crossing a dried up lake made for a perfect end to our Rinca Island exploration. We enjoyed a wonderful sunet en route to Flores and the Garden Hotel, where a tasty seafood dinner awaited.

The next day, mom's last, we hiked through the nearby caves. She was a trooper, as she didn't let her bad leg prevent her from seeing anything. We hiked up, around, down and through many spectacular rock formations. But...eventaully...our time came to a close and we flew back to Bali.

As I write this now, mom is on board a China Airlines flight to Los Angeles, via Taiwan. And I am once again on my own. It was an incredibly welcome treat to have a visitor, as I know it will most likely be several months before I see anybody else that I know.

In the meantime, I'll be staying in SE Asia for a while: tonight I depart for Singapore with the hope of uncovering more treasures of the orient.


From Br., Baum on Oct 7th, 2008

Wow, you're turning into a regular Hemingway with these blog entries! If you get the chance, what does the "Homeland" look like from what you're seeing on your travels let alone what you're hearing? Looks like you're getting more than just a good time out of this, and you're providing a vicarious outlet for us to follow along. Take care Bro.

From Ziem on Oct 9th, 2008

I second Joe's comment on the writing...it must be the freeness of the journey that opens the creativity of the mind. Looks awesome so far, glad to see you're enjoying it, the underwater photos are making me wish I could afford a fall dive weekend this year (but with the new house, no go!). Keep up the info and photos, we love them. Just as an FYI, I know it's not on your plan, but it looks like we will be in Italy April 19th - May 2nd or so...looking at Florence, Venice, Rome and Sorrento/Amalfi Coast.