Dreams Come True With Komodo Island Vacation
Picture yourself strolling on a warm sunny island with a beautiful pink sandy beach, listening to the sounds of macaques and cockatoos in the trees after a long day of snorkeling and diving in the warm waters. Komodo is a land of volcanoes, beaches, jungles and dragons.
Nestled in the archipelago that makes up Indonesia, you’ll find Komodo Island. Measuring three hundred and ninety square kilometers, Komodo features dense jungle canopy, a beach made of pink sand, and perhaps the most famous feature of all: the Komodo dragon. Definitely the island is one of those unique holiday destinations anyone can fall in love with.
Komodo Island makes up part of Komodo National Park, a conservation area established in 1980 to protect the giant Komodo dragon. The area was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a Man and the Biosphere Reserve in 1991.
The Komodo Dragon
The designation of the Komodo National Park creates a protected space for the Komodo dragon to live and breed. The Komodo dragon, a member of the monitor lizard family, is the biggest living lizard species on earth – reaching lengths of three meters or ten feet in some cases, and weighing in at an impressive 70 kilograms or 150 pounds. That’s larger than many adults, which is pretty enormous for a lizard.
Science has attributed their unusually huge size to a phenomenon called “island gigantism” – where no other carnivorous animals live on their islands to compete – another theory is simply that they have descended from a population of very large lizards once living all across the islands of Indonesia as well as Australia, most of which died out with the dinosaurs.
These Komodo dragons are the kings of their islands, dominating the island ecosystems as they hunt their prey
with no other real competitors. They dine on birds, mammals and invertebrates and carrion with no trouble. Their bite can cause great harm – they have two glands in their lower jaw that secrete several different toxic proteins, and their carrion diet ensures that there’s never a shortage of bacteria hanging out in a Komodo dragon’s mouth. The Komodo will occasionally attack people as well, so they aren’t an animal to meddle with! They’re large, their bite can kill, and they aren’t predictable… but they are fascinating creatures.
Travel to Komodo Island to see the dragons for yourself!
The Komodo dragon is so fascinating, in fact, that thousands of tourists flock to Komodo National Park in hopes of encountering one of these mighty lizards. Komodo National Park rests in the Wallacea Region of Indonesia, designated not only by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site but also by World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International as a global conservation priority area. It’s important not only to protect the Komodo dragon itself, but it’s entire ecosystem. The Komodo National Park can be found between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores, at the border of the Nusa Tenggara Timur and Nusa Tenggara Barat provinces. The national park includes three of the major islands – Komodo, Padar, and Rinca, as well as many smaller surrounding islands which come to a grand total of six hundred and three square kilometers of protected land. The total size of Komodo National Park is over eighteen thousand square kilometers when factoring in the water space, and there are proposals to expand this area by another twenty five square kilometers of land and four hundred and seventy nine square kilometers of marine waters.
Since 1980, Komodo National Park has strived to protect the ecosystem of the Komodo dragon, which was first discovered by the scientific population in 1911 by J.K.H. Van Steyn. Most of the people living in the National Park are fishermen, originally hailing from Bima (Sumbawa,) Manggarai, South Flores, and South Sulawesi. Descendents of the original inhabitants of Komodo, the Ata Modo, still reside on the island however their people have long since integrated with migrants and their culture and language is practically dissolved. Very little is actually known about the early history of these Komodo Island natives. It’s understood that they were the subjects of the Sultanate of Bima, but Komodo Island’s remoteness from Bima probably means that the island was more or less undisturbed by the Sultanate other than the occasional tribute upon demand.
Komodo Island – rugged and wild
The Komodo National Park consists of very little flat ground – most of it is varied with slopes ranging from 0 to
80%. The only flat land you’ll encounter is near the beach. The highest peak in the national park is Komodo Island’s Gunung Satalibo. The islands originated from volcanic activity, as the region is at the juncture of two continental plates – the Sahul shelf and the Sunda shelf. It’s the friction from these two plates that led to much volcanic activity and eruptions, causing the up-thrusting of coral reefs. There are no longer any active volcanoes in the Komodo National Park, tremors are common.
Komodo Island has little to no rain for about 8 months out of the year, and becomes strongly impacted by monsoons. The area is dry, and high humidity levels are only found in the “cloud forests” on mountain tops and ridges. The temperatures of Komodo Island range from about 17 to 34 degrees celsius. Waves crash into either the west beach during the months of November through March, or the south beach from April through October as the winds change.
Come see the animals that call Komodo Island home!
The Komodo Island animal species aren’t as diverse as the marine life that surrounds the island, but the wildlife is fascinating to visitors nonetheless. Many of the animals living on the island are of Asiatic in origin, for example the civet, deer, wild pigs and macaques. Several of the birds and reptiles on Komodo Island originate from Australia, such as the lesser sulpher-crested cockatoo, the noisy friarbird, and the orange-footed scrubfowl.
Of the reptile species living on Komodo Island, the Komodo dragon is obviously king. The famous lizard dominates the island, and is the main reason so many visitors flock to these islands each year. Other than the Komodo dragon, Komodo Island is also home to twelve different terrestrial snake species including the cobra and Russel’s pit viper, as well as green tree vipers. The Island is home to nine different skink species, geckos, limbless lizards, monitor lizards, Asian bullfrogs of three different varieties, and many other crawling, creeping, slithering creatures!
Komodo Island isn’t just a land of slithery snakes and giant lizards – it’s also the home of rats, and flying foxes – some of the biggest bats in the world with wingspans of over four feet! If all of this is starting to sound like an island of horrors, rest assured there are also the Timor deer, beautiful wild horses, long tailed macaques, goats, and many beautiful birds.
Encounter the unique marine environment and ecosystems of Komodo Island
The Komodo National Park marine area makes up more than half of the national park itself, and for good reason – the entire ecosystem that surrounds Komodo Island is what makes up the Komodo dragon’s habitat and way of life, and without it this creature would not survive. The open waters are between one hundred, and two hundred meters deep. The strong currents and the coral reefs and islets combine to make navigation around Komodo Island somewhat difficult and at times dangerous in places. There is sheltered deep anchorage available on Komodo Island’s east coast, in the bay of Loh Liang. Water temperatures are always warm, and the waters themselves clear, making scuba diving an excellent opportunity.
An abundance of seagrasses grow around Komodo Island, and the waters are one of the world’s richest marine environments making diving a spectacular adventure. The waters contain forams, cnidaria with over two hundred and sixty species of reef building coral, seventy varieties of sea sponges, marine worms, mollusks, marine reptiles, dolphins, whales, and so on.
Permits, Fees, and Getting to Komodo Island
You will be required to purchase the appropriate permits and pay fees at one of the Komodo National Park headquarters when you arrive. The permits are valid for one day and can be used at both parks. For foreign visitors to the national park, these are as follows (as of July 2015):
- Entrance fee 225,000 IDR
- Area Tax 50,000 IDR
- Ranger/guide: 80,000 IDR (per group)
There are additional fees for activities (eg. diving is 25,000 IDR, snorkeling 15,000 IDR), research and documentation for commercial purposes.
In order to reach Komodo Island, a ferry service shuttles passengers to and from Sape on the eastern side of Sumbawa, and Labuan Bajo on Flores, to Komodo once or twice during the week. Since there is no port on Komodo Island, passengers from the ferry unload into smaller vessels which bring them into the island’s only village. Check beforehand to ensure you’re boarding a ferry that provides the smaller vessel to Komodo.
Exploring Komodo Island! What to see, what to do?
Perama Tour: The “Hunting Komodo by Camera” tour departs every six days from Lombok. The route is along the coastline and uses navigation and safety equipment. The tour makes stops in Labuan Bajo and Komodo. The cruise is very rustic, and wrecked once in March 2011. You rent a cabin or deck class accommodations where you sleep on a foam mat. Includes full board buffet, embarkation fee, a welcome and a farewell dinner on board, use of canoe, fishing, and snorkeling equipment.
Upon arriving at Komodo Island, you will have breakfast and then go ashore to be led by two rangers on a walk through the jungle. Spot Komodo dragons, and take in the sights and sounds of the rest of Komodo Island’s wildlife and jungle. Visit the pink sandy beach! Contact: http://www.peramatour.com/contact-us.html
LTA Tour Lombok: A Komodo destination organizer with professional staff, managed by an experienced tour operator using their own local team/in direct association with the local operator. Enjoy trekking, diving, snorkeling and fishing. Contact: http://www.lomboktravelnews.com/
Komodo Liveaboards: There are many Komodo Island Liveaboard cruises that travel the Komodo National Park for the amazing diving opportunities available in the marine habitat. Spend your days under the sea, and your nights curled up in a comfortable cruise boat.
There are plenty of different Komodo liveaboard tours, each offering a slight variation on the same activity. Wicked Diving Komodo, you can take 4 and 7 day tours which also offer day trips, training and snorkeling tours. With Blue Marlin Dive Komodo, you can stay on board or just take the day trip and take advantage of their full services for open-circuit and rebreather divers, and the rooftop restaurant and accommodations.
Komodo Kayaking: Due to the fact that many of the small islands in the chain are inaccessible to larger boats and very difficult to access even by smaller ones, sea kayaks make the perfect vessel to travel anywhere you like. Rent a kayak and see the islands up close. Travel into bays and small grottos, get in and around all the rocky points and above the shallow reefs teeming with colourful fish. Terrific photo opportunities abound when you’re kayaking around Komodo Island.
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