What’s the difference between Komodo Dragons and Imagine Dragons? I pondered over a joke here for ages, but came up with nothing of any use. So straight in with a fact instead: Did you know Komodo’s bite their prey and stalk them for up-to around two weeks, until their administered poison eventually kills them? Calculated little buggers.
We decided we’d had enough of beaches & parties for a little while and headed from Lombok to Labuan Bajo, Flores – the gateway to Komodo National Park – to search for some badass prehistoric beasties. I’d heard nothing but good things apart from the bad weather during rainy season and that you shouldn’t wander too far off the beaten track when close to massive lizards.
Labuan Bajo is a relatively small port town with the air of a place that doesn’t quite know what’s hit it, such is the growing popularity of the nearby National Park. Not to mention the shiny new airport.
We had 3-nights to explore, and explore we did. Here are my personal ‘must see’ places if you only have a few days in town.
Simply put, one of the most surreal all encompassing sunsets I have ever seen. It caught us by surprise, too. We headed to a local Mexican joint called Bajo Taco (which by the way – did happy hour buckets of 4 x Bintang for 100k) and as the sun started it’s journey downwards, we were greeted by a brilliantly red sky, which like a fine wine got better as the whole scene went on. Head to almost any of the bars or restaurants along the main strip in town for a spectacular view out onto the islands.
Lunch at Warung Mama
A local favourite, canteen style restaurant located slap bang in the middle of town. It’s no frills but remains fiercely authentic amongst a slew of Westernised tourist traps. Select your items from the counter for a pick ’n’ mix style Indonesian banquet. Possibly the best Beef Rendang I tried during my 3-weeks in Indonesia! Totally budget friendly, too.
An Instagram ready island, located within the National Park – a 1 hr 15 (fast boat) boat ride away from Labuan Bajo, or 2 hr 30 min Ferry (a much cheaper option). There isn’t much to do here as such, but a hike to the viewpoint is well worth the trip. Surreal views out over the island present 3 pristine horse-shoe bays, not to mention views for days.
Pantai Merah – aka Pink Beach – is amazingly one of just 7 pink sand beaches in the world. They get their unique colour from the nearby red coral, which leaves an incredible looking pink-is hue behind. It was cloudy when we visited, so the photos don’t really do it justice. Grab a snorkel too, as the nearby coral is bursting with life, not to mention the odd turtle.
Fancy swimming in a secret cave just off of a secluded beach? You’ll need a moped and a local boatsman to get you there, but it’s worth the 90-minute or so round trip out of town. After a short wish bike ride, you’ll find yourself in a local seaside village; where you’ll quickly be accosted by a boat owner who’ll take you out to the nearby cove. Don’t overpay – best to travel in a group to share the cost of the boat. Around 100k p/p is more than enough.
The big one. A chance to see some real life, actual Komodo dragons; amongst some truly stunning scenery. What’s not to like? There are plenty of tour operators & rogue boatsman who will offer trips out to Komodo and the surrounding islands. Komodo Island is the spot, but fear not; you can see Dragons on Rinca too. Infact, apparently they reside on a number of islands in the area. Book ahead to get a good boat, or try your luck on arrival.
Reader beware: we were meant to go to the actual Komodo Island but couldn’t due to inclement weather – which we were only made aware of as we turned up to somewhere not on the route. The waves were apparently too much. We did get to see some Dragons on Rinca, however. Double check what the Harbourmaster is saying the day before you head out to avoid being ripped off.
In total we were backpacking around Indonesia for 3-weeks, but that wasn’t nearly enough time! I’ll be posting some more articles & videos about it all v.soon.
Anything I’ve missed? Or any tips? Please pop me an email to >>> email@example.com