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Komodo National Park

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Komodo Dragons in the Komodo NP
Komodo National Park, [1], is in the Nusa Tenggara region of Indonesia.

Understand[edit]

Komodo National Park lies in the Wallacea Region of Indonesia, identified by WWF and Conservation International as a global conservation priority area, and is located in the center of the Indonesian archipelago, between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores.

Komodo National Park includes three major islands: Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as numerous smaller islands creating a total surface area (marine and land) of more than 1,800 km2. As well as being home to the Komodo Dragon, also known as the Komodo Monitor, or Ora (to Indonesians), the park provides refuge for many other notable terrestrial species. Moreover, the Park includes one of the richest marine environments.

History[edit]

Komodo National Park was established in 1980 and was declared a World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1986, both indications of the Park's biological importance.

The park was initially established to conserve the unique Komodo Dragon and its habitat, first discovered world in 1910. Since then conservation goals have expanded to protecting its entire biodiversity, both marine and terrestrial.

The majority of the people in and around the Park are fishermen originally from Bima on the island of Sumbawa, and from Manggarai, South Flores, and South Sulawesi. Those from South Sulawesi were originally nomadic and moved from location to location in the region of Sulawesi to make their livelihoods.

Descendents of the original people of Komodo, still live in Komodo, but there are no pure blood people left and their culture and language is slowly being integrated with the recent migrants.

Little is known of the early history of the Komodo islanders. They were subjects of the Sultanate of Bima, although the island’s remoteness from Bima meant its affairs were probably little troubled by the Sultanate other than by occasional demand for tribute.

Landscape[edit]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Komodo Dragon.jpg

The number of terrestrial animal species found in the Park is not high, but the area is important from a conservation perspective as some species are endemic. Many of the mammals are Asiatic in origin. Several of the reptiles and birds are Australian in origin. These include the orange-footed scrubfowl, the lesser sulpher-crested cockatoo and the nosy friarbird.

The most famous of Komodo National Park's animals is the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis). It is the world's largest living lizard and can reach 3 metres or more in length and weigh over 70kg.

Other animals include the Timor deer, the main prey of the Komodo dragon, wild horses (kuda liar), water buffalo, wild boar (babi liar), long-tailed macaques, palm civets, the endemic Rinca rat (tikus besar Rinca), and fruit bats.

Also beware of the snakes inhabiting the island, including the cobra and Russel’s pit viper, both of which are extremely dangerous.

As far as the marine fauna is concerned, Komodo National Park includes one of the world's richest marine environments. It consists of over 260 species of reef building coral, 70 different species of sponges, crustaceans, cartilaginous (incl. manta ray and sharks) and over a 1,000 different species of bony fishes (over 1,000 species), as well as marine reptiles (incl. sea turtles), and marine mammals (dolphins, whales, and dugongs).

Climate[edit]

Tropical all year round, and both extremely hot and dry (> 40 degrees Celsius) during August and September.

Typically remote and rugged landscape

Get in[edit]

The ferry service (to and from the cities of Sape, on the eastern tip of Sumbawa, and Labuanbajo, on Flores) drops off passengers on Komodo once or twice every week. There is no port on the island, so passengers are unloaded onto small vessels which take them into the island's only village. (Note that not all departures have this service -- check beforehand.) Bima, a short drive from Sape, has an airstrip with flights to Denpasar.

Travelers coming in from Sape to the west (those traveling overland through Sumbawa and also those arriving at Bima airport) should note that the once-daily ferries from Sape can be suspended indefinitely due to bad weather, so if you want to be sure of your travel arrangements, flying with regular flight Sky Aviation to Labuanbajo from Denpasar is a much safer bet, so we don't need to charter flight anymore as before. (If you get stranded at Sape, the best Bima airport will be able to offer is a flight back to Denpasar on Bali.)

  • Perama Tour, [2]. The Hunting Komodo by Camera trip leaves every six days from Lombok. The route is not really on open water because it travels along the coastal line and most importantly it has navigation and safety equipment. Stops are made along the way in Labuanbajo and Komodo. The cruise is known for poor standards and wrecked in the middle of the night in March 2011, endangering all on board. Price for a cabin is around Rp.4,000,000 deck class is Rp.3,000,000 where you get to sleep with a thin carpet.  edit
  • LTA Tour Lombok, Jl. Raya Senggigi Km. 12 Senggigi Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, +62 370 693860 (, fax: +62 370 693672), [3]. 09.00 AM - 10.00 PM. Komodo Trips organizer with professionally staff under the management of an experienced operator using their own local team or in direct association with a local operator. All teams work to prescribed standards including; direct first hand experience at the destination, respect for the environment, social and cultural sensitivities and strict labour policies and licensed travel agent .  edit

Fees/Permits[edit]

You need to buy the appropriate fees and permits at one of the park headquarters when you arrive. They are supposed to be valid for three days, even though the ticket might state otherwise. For foreign visitors, these are as follows (as of August 2013):

  • Entrance fee 20,000 IDR
  • Area Tax 50,000 IDR
  • Photo camera fee: 50,000 IDR
  • Video camera fee: 150,000 IDR
  • Ranger/guide: 80,000 IDR (per group)

Additional fees include activities (eg. diving is 75,000 IDR, snorkeling 60,000 IDR), research and documentation for commercial purposes.

Get around[edit]

On land: On foot, only, as there are neither roads nor motor transport.

On sea: By chartered boat, only, as there are no regular connections.

You may wish to wear long pants, sunglasses and a hat as you walk in the interior.

See[edit][add listing]

The main reasons to travel to Komodo National Park are the Komodo Dragons, the superb beaches and the unspoilt corals.

Keep in mind that there are also wild pigs, monkeys and horses on Pulau Rinca, one of the two largest islands in the park.

If you return by sea at night, you can also see legions of flying foxes (fruit bats whose wing span may exceed 4 feet) flying in the twilight sky.

At night on the Flores Sea, you also have a magnificent view of the stars.

Do[edit][add listing]

Depending on the time you have available, one or more guided tours on the islands of Rinca and Komodo itself. Please note that it is neither permitted nor advisable to do any tours without local guides, as the Komodo Dragons are dangerous when they attack.

This area is inhabited by more than a thousand different fish species, making it one of the world’s richest marine habitats. You may also swim in the Flores Sea on your incoming or outgoing boat trip to one of the islands. Beware of sharp corals on the sea floor near some of the small islands.

  • Kanawa Island Diving, Kanawa Island, Flores (on Kanawa Island an hour out of Labuan Bajo on the edge of the Komodo Marine Park), +62 821 44802882, [4]. Based on Kanawa Island and working alongside Kanawa Beach Bungalows, 14 rustic bungalows located on the beach with restaurant and daily free transfer from Labuan Bajo. Offers daily 2 or 3 dive trips into the marine park as well as diving day and night from the beach on the house reef. A full range of PADI courses from Discover Scuba to Divemaster. The position of the island on the edge of the marine park means a saving on travel time to the dive sites in the central and northern areas of Komodo Marine Park.  edit
  • Komodo Liveaboards (Komodo Liveaboards), [5]. Komodo Dive Liveaboards (Rinca Islands Liveaboard) cruise gives divers the ability to explore some of the most pristine and diverse marine habitats on the planet, while living right on the Komodo Liveaboard diving boat.  edit
  • Komodo Kayaking (rinjaniclub@gmail.com), Eco-Lodge hotel, +628175730415, [6]. Many of the islands in the chain are either inaccessible to large boats or difficult to access. However with a sea kayak, you can travel anywhere you like. Into small grottos and bays, around rocky points and slowly above shallow reefs brimming with fish.  edit
  • Sea Kayaking and SUP'ing Komodo Islands (info@noroads.com.au), Komodo Islands, +61395988581, [7]. There are dozens of uninhabited islands within and just outside the Komodo National Park. Many of these are only accessible by unmotorised vessels such as sea kayaks and SUP's. These trips are the only full supported expeditions in the park using proper expedition style sea kayaks, not sit on tops. This agency uses these sit in kayaks as the seas can get turn from tranquil to treacherous quite quickly, and a proper sea kayak is the only vessel that can handle it safely.They also have a 20-meter support boat. People taking this trip sleep on isolated beaches by pristine reefs, stay in safari style tents with bush showers and toilets available, and eat wonderful Indonesian cuisine. There are 3-day and 5-day sea kayak and SUP trips all year round with the best times of year for paddling between April and November. From $1800.  edit
  • Wicked Diving, Komodo, (Located on Main Road in Labuan Bajo - next to Treetop restaurant), +62 821 46 1165538 (), [8]. Small dive center in Labuan Bajo operating their own Komodo liveaboard for 4 and 7 day tours. Offering daytrips, training and snorkeling tours.  edit
  • Flores spa, Jl soekarno hatta labuan bajo. Pamper yourself with a professional treatment, from reflexology to full body massage, remedial treatments and sunburn remedy. It is the favorites of all the divers.  edit
  • Blue Marlin Dive Komodo (info@bluemarlinkomodo.com), Jalan Soekarno-Hatta, Labuan Bajo, +62 (0) 812 376 6496, [9]. Offering day boat and liveaboard guided trips, full services for open-circuit and rebreather (CCR) divers, equipment sales and diver training in a purpose-built pool. Ikan Biru, newly refurbished liveaboard, continues to provide custom itineraries around the marine park. Equipped with modern marine safety equipment and an extremely experienced crew. Featuring a rooftop restaurant and accommodation.  edit
  • Flores Komodo Expedition (Main Road across TransNusa Airline Office), Jl. Soekarno Hatta, Labuan Bajo, Flores, NTT, Indonesia, +62 85239816967 info@floreskomodoexpedition.com, [10]. Flores Komodo Expedition organises boat cruises to the Komodo National Park to see the dragons in their natural habitat. The snorkeling tours lead to wonderful islands with white sandy beaches and colorful coral gardens. During the overland trekking and sightseeing tours in Flores one can visit Kelimutu three coloured crater lakes, vulcanos Ebolo and Inerie and all the Megalith Villages in the area of Bajawa.  edit


Buy[edit][add listing]

On Pulau Rinca near the park headquarters you may buy hand carved wooden komodo dragons along with park stickers and park t-shirts. Prices may be cheaper in Labuan Bajo, Flores than on Pulau Rinca.

  • Ombak Biru (Komodo Dancer), Kuta Poleng A3, Jalan Setiabudi, Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, +62361766269, [11]. A luxury liveaboard that has been operating in Komodo National Park for the past 10 years. Part of Dancer Fleet Inc., mainly offering 10 night trips to explore North & South Komodo and surrounding islands.  edit


Eat[edit][add listing]

A limited selection of food is available near the park headquarters on Pulau Rinca, and the prices are not high by Western standards.

  • Atlantis, Jl pantai pede gorontalo labuan bajo (Next to jayakarta hotel). Spanish and seafood restaurant and beach club, offering tasty and fresh food, free shuttle bus and free usage of swimming pool. Every saturday night it turns into a disco with live dj and entertainment. Wonderful for sunset. 10% discount to all certified divers  edit


Drink[edit][add listing]

Under no circumstances drink any tap water. The tap water is not potable. Near park headquarters on Pulau Rinca, you may purchase water and soft drinks. If you go trekking into the island's interior be sure to take a large bottle of water with you. You will need it!

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Lodging[edit]

There is a 7 US dollar a night losmen in Labuan Bajo, Flores.

Kayaking and camping[edit]

The Komodo Islands are made famous by the greatest lizard on the planet, the Komodo Dragon. But the Komodo chain of islands offers so much more than this. Pristine reefs, uninhabited islands, white sandy beaches, marine life second to none and land life as fascinating as the Dragon itself.

Many of the islands in the chain are either inaccessible to large boats or difficult to access. However with a sea kayak, we can travel anywhere we like. Into small grottos and bays, around rocky points and slowly above shallow reefs brimming with fish.

Backcountry[edit]

Stay safe[edit]

The Komodo Dragon has a history of attacking humans. Beware of getting too close, and if you are visiting via the park's office (which you should), ask for a guide and stick close to him. Do not wander off or do anything without his consent. Komodos may approach the guest rest area during daily feeding time, but in this time, find a building (which are usually elevated) and stay clear from the railings. Komodos can and will jump to obtain food if necessary. Park rangers are usually present at these events and will deflect any Komodos trying to get in (which they can do).

You may be given a large pole with a split on the end, forming a "Y" shape. This can be used as a walking pole or for moving things on your path - however, if wild animals threaten, it can be used as a last form of defense (despite being hardly useful against komodos). Overall, try keeping a watchful eye and steer clear of any wildlife.

Komodos are extremely dangerous if close enough. They can run faster than humans (and accelerate very quickly), so best not approach if necessary. Jumping into water (as Komodos are often found near the beach too) doesn't help either, as they can swim faster than humans, can dive, and can also swim against strong currents (in fact, sometimes Komodos are found on neighboring islands, suspected of swimming there).

Zoologists formerly believed that the main problem was the dragon's diseased-filled bite from the rampant bacteria residing in their mouth. More recently theories have been put forward that the Komodo Dragon is actually venomous, and that the biggest problem when bitten is shock and massive blood loss due to the ferocity of the bite. Whichever, getting bitten is not a good thing.

The absence of crocodiles on Komodo Island (due in part to a lack of suitable habitat) leave the Komodo Dragons with no natural predators.

Younger Komodos may live in trees. While not as dangerous as their parents, they can still jump off suddenly and cause panic. Snakes, monitor lizards, and other animals are also present and may cause minor problems.

Saltwater Crocodiles are not present on Komodo Island but they may be present on the surrounding islands and in the ocean. Any area with estuaries and river mouths should permit extra caution as, although they are technically not present on Komodo, the islands ARE within the species natural range. It was once believed by Indonesian natives that monitor lizards (including the Komodo dragon) were capable of warning humans of a crocodile's presence.

Get out[edit]

  • Bali - the Island of the Gods is two hour's flying time away and is a popular combination trip with Komodo.
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