Flores: Komodo and Rinca Islands

The few days spent in the vicinity of Komodo island on Labuanbajo passed in a flurry of constant excitement and amazement at the immense beauty stored in this small pocket of the world. We hired a small boat for two days which took us to prime snorkelling spots in Komodo national park where we snorkelled in crystal clear waters, just a few feet away from a plethora of sea life and beautiful corals.

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Each time we heaved ourselves back onboard, Supa (our captain) and his wife had prepared yet another meal or range of snacks. From fried banana with chocolate sauce to fish cakes, fried noodles and rice, we were never kept hungry.

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After our first day of snorkelling, we spent the night in a home stay in Komodo village. The magical village, where houses are built on stilts – in case the Komodo dragons come down – is reminiscent of a village belonging to a fantasy world. Arriving after sunset, we clambered up the rickety ladder and followed the local kids along the peer, sidestepping in time to their warning shouts – the large, gaping holes in the wooden structure were memorised to them but unbeknown to us. The shadows of the houses towered over us as they led us through narrow lanes to our home stay.
At sunrise we wandered back through the village to the pier. In the dusty morning, small children shrieked from beneath the houses, playing in the shadows of the early morning heat.

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Villagers waved kindly through windows as others busied themselves dressing young children for the day ahead. A peaceful village – rarely disturbed by visitors – seemed to me as somewhat majestic; an undiscovered treasure, a secret harnessed, a calm ripple on an ocean of uncontrollable waves.

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Leaving an idealistic Komodo village behind, we travelled round to the other side of the island in search of the infamous Komodo dragons. We were lucky in our search of the Komodo dragons. Typically, the dragons venture into the sun in the early morning to soak the heat into their scaly skins. The Komodo dragon is an amazing creature – somewhat otherworldly. On both Komodo and Rinca islands we witnessed the dragons in their natural environments. On one occasion we spotted two dragons sapping up the heat next to a water hole – their bodies lazily spread across the rough ground.

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Accustomed to being in the presence of people, they do not threaten, yet constantly remain aware of you – pretending to be asleep, they occasionally open one eye to monitor your movements.
The sun set over the rippling undercurrents of the ocean as we sat atop the deck of the rickety boat sipping on ice cold beers and munching on yet more fried banana, whilst quietly pondering the natural wonders from the day.
After snorkelling in such beautiful waters, we were determined to do some diving. Although at first we were shocked by the price (£60 for three dives), we convinced ourselves it would be worth it to dive at Komodo. We were not wrong. Uber scuba have a beautiful boat with buffet breakfast, snacks, lunch in between dives and awesome dive masters who care about the conservation of this amazing place. But most importantly, the dives were incredible. Diving in these oceans made me feel so privileged that I got to witness these amazing creatures in their natural habitat, just metres away from me. Turtles, baby turtles (2 years old), baby white tip reef sharks, manta rays and a ridiculous amount of smaller fish. We kneeled at the bottom of the ocean, digging our hands into the sands, gazing through the blue in amazement as large manta rays glided above our heads. Johnny and I double high fived, grinned behind out regulators and silently thanked the world for creating such graceful creatures.

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From Labuanbajo we travelled inland through the forests to Moni. A peaceful, quaint town hidden amongst the mountainous roads consists of a few guesthouses, waterfalls and Mount Kelimutu – a volcano with multicoloured lakes at its summit. Moni is also home to friendly residents who want to help in any way they can. In the streets, the kids run half dressed – an oversized, faded t-shirt pulled down over themselves – as they hide amongst the rich greenery playing with friends. The rain of the wet season offered a cool respite from the midday heat we had grown accustomed to. Mount Kelimutu itself is not a strenuous hike – most of the way can be passed by vehicle, followed by a fifteen minute hike to the summit. By 5am, we were huddled together at the summit, using a towel we had brought as a blanket. Much to our dismay – and that of the other 20 travellers who had caved to their 4am alarm to be there – the skies did not look promising for a beautiful sunrise. They looked grey. A thick, endless, intertwining mass of grey clouds took over the sky as we jumped up and down to keep warm and devoured cereal bars and pop mie’s in an attempt to energise our bodies. When the dark clouds finally subsided at 8am, the lakes came into view one by one; the first a deep turquoise, the second a thick, unforgiving black and the third a dark green.

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A spectacle to behold nestled on the outskirts of a quaint, charming village.

 

Do not ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Howard Thurman

Be weird. Be wonderful.:)

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