The main reason we went to Flores was to visit Komodo island, which was much closer to our resort than the mainland (one of the reasons we stayed there). So the first day, we booked a day trip that took us about 2.5 hours by boat to Komodo for a hike around the island, with some stops planned at a few good snorkeling sites on the way back to the resort.
The boat ride was smooth but long – especially for the little excited people we had with us. At first, they were both heartbroken that I wouldn’t let them ride on the roof of the boat with some of the adventurous adults on our tour, but they settled down on the main deck and we passed the time playing “the movie game” – where someone thinks of a movie character and the rest of us have to guess who it is by asking yes or no questions. LittleB is a master at this game, and J is pretty good, although I have a feeling that she just waits until you guess someone she likes and says that’s who it is without having had to think of someone herself. It’s a very subversive way of playing. In fact, now that I think about it, she basically makes us do all the work but gets to be in the game. Sneaky!
Anyway, we spent the rest of the time watching the islands and ocean go by. Flores is so dry, the land we could see was painted in scorched browns and reds. They were the kinds of deserted islands that a pirate would ditch you on and you would die immediately because there wouldn’t be a single scrap of food or drop of water. It looked just like the kind of place you might expect to see dinosaurs, and I admit I broke out into the Jurassic Park theme song more than once. Soon we arrived at Komodo, and it was much the same, only bigger. And very, very hot.
The island offered three walking tours, and our tour group decided on the medium, 2-km hike. As it turned out, we couldn’t have taken the longer 4-km tour even if we wanted to, because it was so hot, the park rangers themselves wouldn’t go that far. Luckily, we didn’t have to walk very long before we saw our first dragon! And luckily, it was so hot, he wasn’t doing very much. Mostly he just lay in the shade and tried to ignore us as we all milled around at a cautious distance. At one point, he stood up and ambled about 3 meters to another bit of shade and lay down again – but you would have thought we were all seeing our baby taking his first steps, with all the excited giggling, gasps and furious photo taking. “Ohmigod he’s walking!” “Quick, move out of the way!” “Aw, look at his little feet!” etc. etc.
Here’s a video of our second dragon, a lady dragon walking very slowly through the woods:
After the rangers cajoled us all into taking close-up shots with the once again stationary dragon, we moved along on our way. Did I mention how hot it was? I would guess it was probably about 45 celsius, no breeze, blaring hot noon sun, burning hot volcanic sand, and only scrubby trees without much shade. Needless to say, the kids were pretty whiny. The only thing keeping LittleB going was the hope of seeing all the dragon poop in the forest (we took pictures of it), while J spent most of the time complaining about just about everything. But they still did the whole walk, even up a huge hill and down through a rocky pathway, and I was proud of them.
In the end, we managed to see 4 dragons in all, though the last one we saw, lying in the shade at the side of the toilet hut, seemed more like a lazy pet than a wild, fierce beast.
At the end of the walk, we spent a few minutes resting at the entrance, trying our best to avoid buying overpriced kick knacks, all mostly in the shape of komodo dragons. C succumbed and bought a fridge magnet.
Soon we hopped back on the boat, hot and sweaty and ready for a swim with some manta rays – next stop!