Visiting Komodo island in Indonesia is a unique experience, the only place in the world where you can see real dragons. The nearest big and inhabited to the National park island is Flores. Labuan Bajo, a small town is the main gateway to Komodo island and a perfect base for exploring Flores. The island has a lot to offer, you can easily spent here a couple of weeks exploring its surroundings. Even if you are limited in time iy still worth to come here. Just think about all the exciting activities you can do here, from sailing adventure to walking with the ancient dragons and diving with magnificent mantas, there are plenty of things to do and see on the island. Plan your perfect trip to Komodo island now with Bintang Komodo Tours!
KOMODO NATIONAL PARK
Komodo National Park, located between Sumbawa and Flores, was founded in 1980 with the aim of protecting the endangered Komodo dragon. As the park is not only the last sanctuary for the Komodo dragon but also a unique area of marine biodiversity, it became a Man and Biosphere Reserve in 1986 and entered the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1991. With its outstanding submarine richness, it is not surprising that the park is one of the world’s finest destinations for scuba divers. With an area of 1,817 km², the park consists of Komodo Island, Rinca Island, Padar Island, and numerous smaller islands. The famous giant lizards, who are unique to Komodo National Park, are not only of great interest to tourists but also to scientists studying the theory of evolution.
Rinca Komodo Flores Island
Komodo National Park is home to about 3,500 people who live in four villages. The largest settlement is Komodo Village on Komodo Island; the other settlements are Rinca Village and Kerora Village on Rinca Island; and Paparagan Village on Paparagan Island. Most of the people in Komodo National Park make their living out of fishing. Some people earn extra income by carving wooden Komodo dragons to sell to visitors on Komodo Island, or at the airport and in hotels of Labuan Bajo.
When Komodo became a national park in 1980, these villages have already been in existence for about 70 years. The people’s origins can be drawn back to the Sultanate of Bima on Sumbawa Island. Life is not easy for them: as the population has grown massively over the years, they face serious shortages of water and firewood. Besides, pollution and over-fishing, using destructive methods such as dynamite fishing, has endangered marine life – the main source of livelihood and income of the Komodo inhabitants.
The Komodo dragon
The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is the world’s largest and also one of the oldest living lizards. As already mentioned, it can only be found in the wild in Komodo National Park (more precisely on the islands of Komodo, Rinca, Nusa Kode, and Gili Motang) and to a minor extent on Flores’ west and north coasts. Adult dragons can reach a length of up to three meters, with an average weight of around 90kg.
Living mainly on carrion, the dragons also hunt deer and wild pigs, using their strong tail to bring the prey to the ground. Even though they appear rather inert, the dragons can accelerate up to 18 kilometers per hour while hunting. As they have an excellent sense of smell, they can locate their prey from a distance of several kilometers. Prey that is not killed immediately will die of blood poisoning because of the dragons’ septic saliva.
The Komodo dragon is a loner, living solitarily except at times of mating which usually takes place in the dry season between June and August. The female dragons bury their eggs and watch over them for a short time before leaving them to their fate. After nine months, the newly hatched baby dragons immediately climb up a tree to avoid the threat of being devoured by older dragons and other enemies. They live on small lizards and mammals, birds and their eggs, as well as insects. As soon as they get too heavy for tree-dwelling, they have to go back to the ground to reach their final stage of adulthood.
An endangered species
The mystery of how the huge dragons found their way to Komodo and why they can only be found there is still not clear, herewith creating a fertile ground for unproven theories and assumptions. A popular theory suggests that periods of low sea levels enabled the dragons to reach Flores by land. As an assumed relic of extinct giant lizards, they only survived because of a lack of natural enemies in these islands’ isolated environment. With less than 2,500 lizards left, the Komodo dragon has now entered the International Union of Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list of endangered species. The most threatening factor to survival is poachers who constantly minimize the population of the Timor deer, the Komodo dragon’s staple food.
Gili Lawa, Komodo National Park
Visiting the dragons
Komodo Island is the most-visited attraction of Flores. Rinca, a smaller island where the Komodo dragons can also be found is a good alternative to crowded Komodo Island. There are innumerous tour operators both within and outside of Flores offering Komodo or Rinca tour packages. Many local guides and boat captains wait to take visitors there from Labuan Bajo.
Komodo National Park on the world stage
The Komodo National Park became one of the 28 official finalists in the ‘New 7 Wonders of Nature’ global campaign which was launched in 2007. ‘Vote Komodo’ was also taken on the international rally front by implementing creative activities around Europe to create awareness and to entice people to vote.
One day after the voting on November 12, 2011, it was announced that the Komodo National Park is one of the Seven New Wonders of Nature. Now, New7Wonders (www.new7wonders.com) plans to work with the Indonesian authorities and Komodo supporters to evolve a sustainable development strategy. The objective lays in balancing the needs of the Komodo habitat and its people with the vital task of defending the park’s ecological integrity.
Flores is most famous for two internationally renowned attractions. Firstly, the Komodo National Park, home to the unique Komodo dragon, a monitor lizard of impressive size and appearance, which attracts thousands of people annually from around the world; and secondly, Kelimutu National Park, a natural phenomenon volcano in the centre of Flores that intrigues visitors with its three brightly-coloured crater lakes, which are steeped in local mythology.
However, Flores is so much more than Komodo and Kelimutu. Nature lovers will find it everywhere: deserted islands with white sandy beaches to escape from the hassles of everyday life; beautiful rice fields nestled among soft hilly landscapes, perfect for a laid-back stroll.
Welcome to Flores, where the untold beauty of Indonesia awaits and Bintang Komodo Tours will help you to explore it!
Tasty Traditional Treats of Flores Island
Long hidden in the shadows of its more famous neighbor Bali, the island of Flores is emerging as a unique destination in its own right. Not only is Flores in the East Nusa Tenggara Province, a staging point to your adventure to Komodo Island, the lair of the dragons, Flores is also blessed with an abundance of wonders such as the Tri-colored Lake of Mt. Kelimutu, the Liang Bua Cave archaeological site, and traditional villages like Bena and Compang Ruteng. With over 50 spectacular dive sites, Flores is a paradise for divers and underwater enthusiasts. The island is also surrounded by beautiful beaches with soft pearly white sands.
In addition to these popular attractions, there is still a side of Flores that should yet receive more spotlight: its culinary treats. This island also has various scrumptious traditional food, snacks, as well as delicious drinks that will complete your total adventure, just ask your guide from Bintang Komodo Tours, where is the best place….
Here are some of the tasty traditional foods and drinks on Flores:
1 | Ubi Nuabosi
Ubi Nuabosi is a type of sweet potato which is very popular on Flores. The sweet potatoes are processed in a variety of ways, the may be boiled, fried, or roasted. The people of Flores usually serve these together with dried salted fish or other dishes. Here, Ubi Noubosi is a source of carbohydrate an acts as an alternative to rice.
2 | Jawada
Jawada is a traditional sweet snack of Flores that takes the shape of a triangle with a lovely golden brown color. Composed of thin pasta not unlike glass noodles, Jawada resembles curly hair, from which it got its nickname as the “hair cookie”. Jawada is made from rice flour, palm sugar, coconut milk, and salt. The dough is pushed through small holes made on a coconut shell to create the thin hair-like shapes. The dough is then deep fried, so it can maintain its crispiness.
3 | Catemak Jagung
Catemak Jagung or Corn Catemak is a dessert that is highly popular in Flores, and East Nusa Tenggara Province. Made from corn, peanuts, green beans, and pumpkin, this is truly a healthy dish. Although it is known as a dessert that is eaten after the main course, Catemak Jagung is a savory dish and not dessert.
4 | Tapa Kolo
Literally translated, “Tapa” means roasted or barbequed, and “Kolo” means rice in a bamboo, so in simple terms, Tapa Kolo is rice which is put inside a small bamboo and then cooked over an open fire. This is a special dish that is usually served for traditional rituals and ceremonies as well as other events. Not just regular rice is used, the rice for Tapa Kolo is a special red rice which locals calls “Deal aka”. Tapa Kolo is usually served with chicken, pork, or other meat.
5 | Se’i
For meat lovers, Se’i is the perfect treat. Se’i is smoked meat cooked in the traditional methods in Flores. Se’I usually uses Beef or pork, but sometimes fish is also used. To make Se’I, the meat is placed over an open fire at a heightrelatively higher than barbequing. This way, it is not the flame that cooks the meat, but the hot smoke. For this reason it takes longer to make Se’I as when compared to barbequing meat. The locals usually slice the freshly smoke meat and eat it right away or cook it again mixed together with a variety of vegetables.
6 | Moke Drinks
A traditional drink of Flores is Moke, considered by the people of Flores as symbol of friendship and hospitality. The drink is made of palm nectar which is distilled and processed using traditional techniques. There are two types of Moke which are the White Moke and Black Moke. White Moke is made from tapped palm nectar, while the Black Moke is White Moke which has undergone further distilling process which increases its alcohol content and turns it into a liquor, specialty of Flores.
Labuan Bajo, Flores, is located in a half moon bay surrounded by hills that rise steeply from the shore. The setting is picturesque with breathtaking views at sunset.
To do list
1. Trek Through the Forests of Komodo
Most tourists looking for things to do in Flores come to visit the island of Komodo, home to the famous Komodo dragons. To see the Komodo dragons you will have to join a Komodo Island tour with one of the rangers. There are a number of set hikes to choose from ranging from the short hikes, which take 20-30 minutes, to overnight hikes where you get to camp on the island. The best time to visit the island of Komodo is in the early afternoon when the big Komodo dragons are sitting lazily in the shade and the baby dragons are wandering through the wilderness.
2. Visit Padar Island
Padar Island is in my opinion the natural highlight of the Komodo islands. The island is famous for the viewpoint from where you can see the three beaches of Padar Island (one is white, one is pink and the other is a black sand beach). The best time to do the climb is in the early morning for sunrise. Be warned there are Komodo dragons on the island and they hang around in the shade of the rocks (which is where you will want to be).
3. Swim with Mantas at Manta Point
Manta Point is one of the most famous sites for diving near Labuan Bajo. This is the place where I met turtles talking to manta rays… But more seriously it is one of the best Komodo Island diving sites. The reason Manta Point is so popular is the strong nutrient rich current that flows through the strait that attracts large schools of Manta Rays. Manta Point is recommended for divers who have experience with drift dives.
4. Join a Live Aboard Tour
If you are wondering what to do in Labuan Bajo then we would recommend joining a live aboard boat tour around the Komodo islands. There are a number of different options available depending on your budget and interests. If you are only visiting Labuan Bajo for a short stay then I would recommend a 3 day 2 night boat trip. This will give you the chance to visit Komodo Island, swim at the Pink Beach, hike Padar Island and more. There are live aboard packages that fit most budgets.
5. Eat at the Fish Market
There are a lot of really nice places to eat in Labuan Bajo, but if you want to eat freshly caught fish served with delicious sauces then we would recommend visiting the fish market in Labuan Bajo. The market is located along the seafront of Labuan Bajo on the outskirts of Labuan Bajo. The food here is really delicious and there’s an interesting mix of people (you’ll find a mix of expats, backpackers and locals).
6. Go Caving at Batu Cermin
The Batu Cermin Cave is one of the few tourist attractions in Labuan Bajo that is actually close to the city. The caves are located in a natural canyon between steep cliffs. The highlight of the site is the Batu Cermin caves, which means Mirror Rock caves in Indonesian. The caves get this name, because of the crystals in the rock that reflect the sunlight. The best time to visit the caves is between 9-10 in the morning when the sun comes through a hole in the rock illuminating the crystals.
7. Swim in the Underground Lake at Rangko Cave
Rangko Cave was one of my favourite places to visit near Labuan Bajo. The cave is filled with clear brackish water and it’s possible to go swimming in the cave. At about lunch time the sun shines directly into the cave lighting it up and reflecting off the water. To reach the cave you need to take a one hour drive from Labuan Bajo to a small village. From the village it’s a 10 minute boat ride to an isolated beach and then a five minute hike uphill to the cave.
Article from Flores tourism brochure