Image: Azisrif via Wikimedia Commons
In the Indonesian archipelago, between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores, lies Komodo National Park. It’s the only place on Earth you can have a close encounter with a Komodo dragon, a unique lizard species often referred to as the last living dinosaur.
In an effort to conserve this rare creature and its natural habitat, the Komodo National Park is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park consists of three major islands (Komodo, Rinca and Padar) that are home to over 2500 of these impressive and fearsome creatures.
Though Komodo is much more than it’s famous wildlife; the islands also boast some of the world’s best diving and snorkelling spots, and landscapes so dramatic the island was recently named one of the world’s “7 New Wonders of Nature.”
With a new airport in Labuan Bajo, on the neighbouring island of Flores, access to Komodo is now just a boat ride away. Here are just five of the many reasons you’ll want to discover the magic this Indonesian gem has to offer.
5 Reasons to Visit Komodo National Park (Indonesia)
Most of us have seen Jurassic Park, and we loved it! Die hard fans might have played games inspired by the franchise, theme parks around the world have the rides, and if you’re hitting up a casino you can even find a slot machine with the same theme.
But what about the ultimate experience…having the chance to visit a real life Jurassic Park?
The biggest attraction to Komodo National Park is, of course, the Komodo dragon, which can be found on both Komodo and Rinca. Through an organised tour you have the opportunity to trek among the dragons as they roam freely in their natural habitat.
These magnificent prehistoric creatures can reach up to 3 meters in length and weigh about 70 kg, making them the largest lizard to walk our planet. And they have an appetite to match their size (wild buffalo are a firm favourite on their menu)!
With more dragons than there are people in this Jurassic kingdom, it’s understandable that this might all sound a bit frightening, so you’ll be pleased to hear that they live fairly harmoniously with their human counterparts!
In order to stay safe, visitors must remain on the trails and be accompanied by rangers at all times. These rangers, armed with long cleft sticks, are on standby to gently nudge any over inquisitive lizard away.
Diving and Snorkelling
Imagine diving among the gentle giants of the underworld, the manta ray, as they glide effortlessly in the space around you at Manta Point. Or getting sidelined by over 2,000 species of reef fish darting in and out of the vibrant coral.
Komodo National Park falls within the Coral Triangle, which is considered the most biodiverse marine area on Earth. It’s home to some incredible ocean life including the manta ray, sharks, whales and turtles, as well as 76% of the world’s coral species.
This makes it a scuba diver’s paradise and a mecca for underwater photography. Not only is it one of the world’s best dive spots, the snorkelling in Komodo National Park is equally magnificent.
There are plenty of dive spots around, with most suited to intermediate and advanced divers due to the unpredictable nature of the currents. But if you’re a newbie to diving, fear not! There are still options for you to have a great time underwater.
Whether you’re a beginner or advanced diver, it is of course always important to make sure that you do your research and find a good and reputable diving company.
Pink Beach, or Pantai Merah, is one of seven pink beaches in the world. Located on Komodo, this uniquely stunning beach is made up of red coral mixed in with the white sand, giving it a pinkish tint.
Here you can spend some time relaxing on the pink sand, working on your tan, or you can dabble in some snorkelling in the pristine turquoise waters.
It’s worth remembering that Pink Beach shares the island with the Komodo dragon, and they also love to sunbathe and swim, so make sure not to stray too far from your guide.
Komodo Dragons are relatively tame around humans, but they have even been known to attack the odd human in their time.
Image: Schristia (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr
Padar Island is the third largest island in Komodo National Park, comprising of spectacular scenery and an array of wildlife. It was once home to three species of Komodo dragon, but due to a lack of food and hunting they’re no longer found here.
You can hike to Padar’s summit to see a breathtaking panoramic view of the island. There’s also the option to snorkel here, with the chance to see sharks and dolphins, or hit up one of the tri-coloured beaches – the white sand, black sand, pink sand, or take in all three!
Image: Azisrif [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons
Wildlife and Landscape
So we’ve mentioned the dragons and the vast marine life, but there are many other animals that share this incredible habitat, including horses, wild buffalo, Timor deer, wild boars, 12 species of snakes, monkeys and over 40 species of birds.
Visiting the various islands of the park will give you the chance to witness all manner of creatures living freely in their natural environment. While the Dragons are an obvious highlight, most people are surprised to realize just how much of a haven the islands are for other wildlife.
The landscape of the park is just as diverse as the wildlife, with a mix of mountainous hillsides, grass-woodland savannahs, mangrove forests and bays with various coloured sandy beaches.
For anyone who loves anything to do with nature, Komodo National Park will certainly tick all the boxes.
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