Flipping through a hostel’s Lonely Planet of Indonesia, my attention was drawn by human-eating dragons. These dragons can can follow their prey, sometimes as big as a buffalo, for up two weeks and would even eat their own children. What? Does this even exist? I set out to find out how to see these crazy dragons.
The Komodo dragons live on two islands in Komodo National Park, Rinca and Komodo. Komodo National Park consists solely out of a series of islands including the previous ones mentioned surrounded by a big part of ocean which is a non-fishing zone. The Komodo island is by far the most popular place to spot the Komodo dragons. Most people will visit it on an expensive several day trip from Bali, but this article is to show you how I saw the Komodo dragons without an expensive tour.
How to get to the Komodo National Park?
There are many ways to get to the Komodo National Park. The closest harbor is Labuan Bajo, the capital of lovely island Flores. To find the island, you have to look east from Bali and Lombok. If you depart on a tour from Lombok or Bali, you will overnight on a boat for several nights to be able to get there. If you do a quick Tripadvisor search, you will quickly find out that not all these boats are safe and as they have to include accommodation and food, prices tend to go up.
Another way of getting to the Komodo National Park or the way to see the Komodo dragons without an expensive tour is via the above mentioned port of Labuan Bajo. With the current low-cost carriers, Labuan Bajo is super easy to reach by plane plus the tickets are very affordable. Just a quick hour and a half flight from Denpasar in Bali and you’re setting foot on my favorite island in Indonesia. Want to find out why Flores is my favorite place in Indonesia? Read my earlier blog post here.
How to see the Komodo Dragons without an expensive tour?
I have good news and bad news. Which one you want to hear first? I’ll start with the bad.
There is no way of visiting the Komodo islands without an organized tour. Because the islands are located more than an hour away from Flores by boat, there is no way of getting there by yourself. That is, unless you chart out your own boat, which is a very expensive affair.
The good news is that, once you find your cheap flight to Flores, it is pretty easy to find a tour. Labuan Bajo is quite a small port and you can basically walk from shop to shop and compare prices. Some tours will visit only one of the two islands. Other boats will visit both and will be gone for longer. The cheaper option is often to visit only Rinca island which is closer to Flores. In my opinion, the Komodo dragons look pretty much the same on both islands. Furthermore the landscape is just as gorgeous in the whole park. Therefore I recommend going with one of the tours that limit their visit to Rinca island. You get to see the one-of-a-kind Komodo National park landscape and you get to see these unique dragons. Plus, have I mentioned the hours of chilling and sunning on the deck of the boat?
How I did it!
Aside from visiting the Komodo National park for the dragons, my main purpose was scuba diving in the park. Traveling through Indonesia, I had heard so many good things about it. I received several good reviews on a Belgian diving company, Manta Rhei. After visiting them on the island, I knew I wanted to go scuba diving with them. When I was on the island, they organized a weekly trip to Rinca island which included a scuba dive and a view of the sunset at Kalong Island. Here thousands and thousands of fruit bats fly away from the island to collect food. Simply spectacular!
That being said, visiting Flores island to only see the Komodo dragons would be a shame. The scuba diving or even the snorkeling is world class and it is still one of my favorite spots to recommend to people. Out of all the amazing scuba places I have been, Komodo national park is the most easily reachable and is very affordable. Next to that the island has a three color volcanic lakes to offer, a pink beach, awesome waterfalls, great locals and so much more. Why wait any longer to add it to your Indonesia bucket list?
Where did I stay?
I split my stay between a nice hotel and cheap budget accommodation. The hotel stay was because I was sick arriving on Flores and basically spent the whole day in bed. The budget accommodation I took is called Bajo View and is basically a hostel with only tents. The toilet and shower facilities are clean and really, sometimes all you need is a good bed and a fan. If you pay a little bit extra, you sleep on the top floor and can even reach the wifi from the deck above! I though about everything.
Labuan Bajo has several beautiful hotels on offer as well. Want a private cabin? A hotel room with a view? A swimming pool to lounge in all day? It’s all possible. Check out the hotels on offer here.
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I hope you enjoy your trip! Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below with your thoughts.
I was not paid to write about any of the companies mentioned in this post nor did I receive any discounts to write about them. This article contains only my opinion and experiences.