Komodo Island National Park comprises 3 islands, with about 1,000 dragons on each of the islands. There are also 5 other islands with dragons with another 500 or so.
First thing we notice ,is the only sign of habitation is a small a town nestled by the beach in one valley. Our ship sails by the town to a lonely looking pier a couple of valleys away. We are wondering where is the everyone. Dragons ate them? Some boats start to show up and finally we can see some buildings back in the trees near the pier.
There are surprises as we prepare to go ashore. First, no one is allowed on shore unless they have a pre booked tour with an authorized guide. Next, no one with an open wound or woman on her period are allowed because the dragons can smell fresh blood for 2 miles. Mel has a moment of panic since she gouged her arm on the sliding glass door a couple of days ago. We have it checked and are told its ok since its not an open wound any longer. We put Neosporin and a Band-Aid on it to mask any possible smells of blood. Too old to worry about the period thing. Just as we are about to get on the boat, we are told you can’t wear red. The whole Viking cruise staff is in red, so they go back to their rooms to change. My shoes have red trim, so Mel makes me go back and change my shoes.
On shore, we head off in groups of 24 with 3 guides to protect us. Two of guides have forked sticks to poke the dragons if one gets too interested. 10 yards down the path, is a 7 ft one lying across the path taking a nap. 20 yards off in the woods is a 3 ft juvenile walking around in the underbrush. 15 mins into the tour and we have already seen 2 dragons! They are ugly, brown and blend in well with the underbrush so keep an eye out.
For the next hour we walk through the jungle and don’t see another one. We do see lots of flowers especially orchids in the trees. Also foot prints of the pigs and deer that are the dragons preferred food. Its a 25 year jail sentence to kill one of the island animals so keep the environment in balance. Tons of butterflies and moths flutter by. The birds are all squawking or singing, so although hot and humid, it’s a pleasant walk. Our guide had keen eyes and would point out the various fruits and flowers. We also saw bright orange fungus (magic mushrooms) and a striking yellow and black striped snail on the back of a leaf.
You could take the long path or the short path. Mel and I took the long path up the hillside for some nice views. We joined back up with the short path group about 30 mins later. Next up was the watering whole, where lots of animals hang out. Today it was 5-6 dragons lounging about. The Guides had us circle around, keeping a 10 yard perimeter. All the attention was on the watering hole, when a small 4 foot dragon came out of the woods behind us. Dullah, our guide was laughing at the dragon saying how he was so busy with the big ones he forgot to keep track behind us. It kept out at the edge of the woods and did not come any closer to us.
As we were leaving the watering hole area back to the visitor center, a 6 foot dragon came walking straight up the path at us. It didn’t seem like it was looking for dinner, just taking the easiest route to somewhere else. The guides pushed us off to the side and got their forks ready. The dragon looked up to noticed all of us and decided to move over to the other side. Being undecided about all of us and the guides all telling it to go away and not bother their guests, the dragon just sat down and we took the chance to move away.
The final challenge was running the gauntlet of all the merchants that lined the path back to the pier. The most aggressive sales people we have faced so far but after facing the dragons, we made it back to the ship without yielding to more trinkets!