I really didn’t know what to expect when my recent trip to Indonesia brought me to the Komodo National Park. I find that sometimes that’s the best way to tackle a new destination. Do you agree?
The facts are easy to summarise: The park covers a vast area within the Indonesian Archipelago roughly the size of Greater London. As you are probably aware, it is home to the famous Komodo Dragon as well as many islands big and small. The Komodo National Park proved absolutely stunning to the point of overwhelming, not just because of its sheer unspoilt beauty but also because of the variety of raw and close animal encounters, which are so hard to find today. The Komodo Dragon, pink beaches, mantas and stunning sunsets – there are many reasons why you should add the Komodo National Park to your Indonesia itinerary.
The best and only way to see the Komodo National Park is by charter boat, so our group of travel bloggers embarked onto a 2 day journey complete with crew and captain in the tiny port town of Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores. Kakaban Tours were responsible for the organisation of the trip, and I cannot recommend their services warmly enough. The crew was fantastic and ensured safety and comfort on board. We also received three meals a day that were delicious and full of variety (fried banana with Nutella for breakfast, need I say more?) and accommodation included air-conditioned double sized cabins under deck.
Life on board was decidedly rougher than in any resort on the island. Yet, exposing myself to this “soft” adventure did indeed open up a whole new world of possibilities and experiences that I am now proud to count among the best travel experiences I ever had. If you don’t believe me wait until you see the photos, and make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom.
Here are 10 good reasons why a visit to the Komodo National Park will be an adventure of a lifetime:
1. See the Komodo Dragons
Most people will want to see the Komodo National Park because of the Komodo Dragons.
These ancient looking creatures, monitor lizards, live on only two of the islands. It is on Komodo and Rinca Islands where they found their last refuge.
Our cruise took us to both islands, and while you might think “what’s the big deal”, let me tell you that coming close to these wild and lethal animals is not just thrilling but also humbling.
There are many interesting things you will learn from the rangers on both islands. But nothing will be more educational than seeing these endangered animals in action. Coincidentally, your park fees will also help conservation of the species. You can read all about my dragon adventure in my earlier post here.
2. Visit Pink Beach
The first time I heard of Pink Beach was when I looked into my Indonesia itinerary. When I did a Google search I almost fell off my chair: who would have thought that something like this existed? As it turns out, most pictures on the internet will show you a photoshopped reality of the beach. While the sand will still have a pinkish hue, the scenery will not look as pinkish as depicted on most Pinterest boards. In fact, you may be a bit disappointed when you get to your first pink beach as it doesn’t seem pink at all. The intensity of colour depends on the light, whether the sun is setting, and if the sand is wet at all.
So I am being honest with you and disclaim now that I needed to tune the colour a little bit in my pictures to prove the pink hue that can be found in the sand.
As it turns out, pink beaches are a bit of a speciality of Indonesia, and there are only a handful to be found in the archipelago. Our cruise brought us to one of them, and once you get closer you can see how the pink colour is created: tiny red coral fragments mix with the soft white sand of the beach to create the pink effect.
It’s a jest of nature, one that it definitely worth seeing.
3. Swim with the Mantas
Nothing in life prepares you for an early morning start in a largely uninhabited part of the world that is home to countless animals. Wake up on the crack of dawn and you realise you are surrounded by animals of all shapes and sizes. This is their world, and you are only visiting.
Our cruise took us to Manta Point in the Komodo National Park, and those of us who were keen for an early morning swim jumped in the water to join the mantas in their playful swim around the boat. A magical experience, rarely found anywhere else in the world.
4. Enjoy a magical sunset
As our first day drew to a close we were surprised by a magical golden sunset, one of the kind that you can only seem to experience on board a ship. But then this was just a sunset.
What made it even better was that we moored in a sheltered bay, surrounded by mangroves. Never did I see so many bats rising from the forest, big swarms of black winged creatures that started their night of hunting the minute the last rays of light disappeared on the horizon.
Sitting on the roof of our boat we were amazed to see this unexpected spectacle of nature, the black clouds of bodies rising from the mangroves and disappearing in the distance, while around us darkness fell and everything grew quiet.
5. And a magical sunrise
And with the magical sunsets you also get magical sunrises the next day, provided you are not sleeping in.
I just love the warm glow of the early morning sun which paints the scenery in glorious shades of yellow and orange. Everything around us looked so fresh and new, so full of promise. And when you realise that all of this has been happening exactly the same way for millennia, regardless of whether humans were around or not, then this is quite a thought to behold.
6. Enjoy the romantic atmosphere
The Komodo National Park is the stuff that will be a hot contender for any tourist brochure.
Picture a vast marine landscape with calm waters that are home to a multitude of fish and other sea creatures.
Not a human settlement in sight, just you and nature, undisturbed by electronic pollution and the stress of everyday life. It really takes you away from it all and offers you the chance to become one with nature. Not just the colours alone but the intricate shapes of the islands and the stunning emptiness all around you make for a charming, romantic atmosphere that is best enjoyed with your partner.
7. Have fun onboard
Gather a group of friends and enjoy the secluded atmosphere on board the boat.
I think that we were surrounded by such a beautiful place, having lived through a hot day full of adventure and surprises, offered us the luxury of just letting go and having fun. There is something special is being away from it all, without the distraction of mobile reception or other electronics. The fresh air, the sounds of the night and the stars created the perfect backdrop for some good times with friends.
This, dear reader, is how you forge friendships and create memories that will last you a lifetime.
8. Snorkel, dive and swim with tropical fish, turtles and dolphins
The Komodo National Park was created first and foremost to protect the wonderful Komodo Dragon, but this little paradise on earth is home to so many more animals, both at land and sea. You will be surprised by all the different animal encounters you will have within just a very short amount of time.
On our boat we saw not just the mantas and bats but also dolphins. We swam with colourful fish and other reef inhabitants, and a turtle or two were also checking us out.
On the islands there were deer, crocodiles, pigs, monkeys and a multitude of birds. I am sure there were even more animals, we just didn’t have the time to explore the area enough.
As a matter of fact, there was so much life around us, you could easily compare the Komodo National Park with a Garden Eden.
Apparently, the Komodo National Park is also a paradise for divers, although it is recommended that you have some experience under your belt before you tackle the currents and chilly temperatures.
9. Experience one of the most stunning landscapes in this world
I have to admit I am more of a beach person than a mountain person. So the Komodo National Park suited me just fine. All around you the playful collection of islands, tiny ones and big ones, some of them with incredible peaks so tall that no human will have ever thought of climbing them.
A landscape that was looking dry to the bone, waiting for the wet season to set in. Golden sandy beaches, some of them so shallow that they will shimmer through the water, turning the endless blue into a playful prism of greens. No human activity around you, just you and nature.
It’s calm, peaceful, and ridiculously romantic.
10. Tick the Komodo National Park off the bucket list as you work yourself down the 7 New Wonders of Nature
I know that some of you readers will live by bucket lists and that they dream about visiting extraordinary places over the course of their lives.
I am not exactly that kind of person, I do like surprises and drifting.
But for those of you who are keen to put together a list of destination worth visiting, you may be interested to hear that the Komodo National Park has been included in the 7 New Wonders of Nature list. This list has been compiled by the Swiss-based New7Wonders Foundation which is the brain-child of Swiss-born Canadian filmmaker, author and adventurer Bernard Weber to contribute “to the protection of the world’s human-built and natural heritage and to foster respect for our planet’s diversity.”
The other New Wonders of Nature include the Amazon, Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, the Iguazu Falls on the border to Brazil and Argentina, beautiful Jeju Island in South Korea, the PP Underground River in the Philippines, and South Africa’s Table Mountain.
How many have you done? Let me know in the comments below! http://www.new7wonders.com
>>> Love Indonesia as much as me? Check out these great tips and ideas for inspiration! <<<