Welcome to paradise. Onboard Salacia, the afternoon sun wraps us in soft, warm, hazy light, perfect for a relaxing afternoon. No beach bars in sight, no other boats, no barbecue smoke mixed with braindead party beats. Only pure quiet nature.
The only sound I can hear, laying on the soft mattress on Salacia’s front deck is the soft constant hum from the engine and the waves lapping against the side of the wooden boat as it glides through the turquoise water. I close my eyes and feel the afternoon sun warm my face, thinking that nothing can beat this feeling and this moment. It is a dream come true.
We are in the middle of the ocean in Komodo National Park, and the rest of the world is just a distant memory.
Komodo National Park
Komodo National Park, nestled between the islands of Flores and Sumbawa in Indonesia, is home to the legendary Komodo Dragon – the largest lizard in the world. It has been on our travel bucket list for a long time. Ever since we first visited Bali and Indonesia back in 2005, has this national park been in the back of our minds.
Komodo was established as a national park in 1980, then later declared as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature and made a Unesco`s World Heritage site. Not only is it the only place in the world where the Komodo dragon lives in the wild, but it is also one of the richest marine ecosystems left on earth with its 1817 km² of pristine, untouched nature. The snorkeling and scuba diving is amazing.
Choosing a Komodo Tour
With no tour booked, we boarded our plane from Bali to Flores. As soon as we landed, we discover that there is no lack of tour operators in the small village of Labuan Bajo. Along main street tour and diving companies selling exploration tours and diving trips to the national park lie like pearls on a string.
We walked door to door and visited most of them. We compared prices, looked at pictures of their boats, and enquired what their Komodo National Park tour included.
While you can make a day trip to the Komodo national park, most Komodo National Park tours are two or three days, with one or two nights sleeping on the deck of the boat. All trips go ashore on either Rinca Island or Komodo Island, or both, to see the Komodo dragons. Some tours include snorkeling.
Standard varies wildly from inexpensive tours on large boats packed with tourists, to small exclusive tours designed for a handful of people.
Komodo is often mentioned as one of the top 10 diving destinations in the world, because of its amazing wildlife and clear water. There are plenty of diving tours available for most skill levels and budgets, although diving in Komodo is not ideal for inexperienced divers due to some tricky currents.
Walking along Labuan Bajo’s main road, it was challenging to choose between the overwhelming options, and to be honest we felt a bit lost.
Then we walked into a small office that just seemed a little different. And when we saw this quote on their wall, we were sold. This is our kind of tour company – Flores XP Adventures.
They are the only company doing Komodo tours where you sleep onshore in tents instead of on the boat. We loved their attitude, the look of their boat, and the fact that their groups are small, and we were quickly sold on their three-day Komodo tour.
Unfortunately, their tours were, as most of the better tours operators we met, fully booked and we had to wait for almost a week before we could depart on our Komodo park adventure. Thankfully it would be well worth the wait!
With Komodo’s popularity on the rise, we recommend that you book your tour in advance before you arrive in Flores unless you are willing to take just about any trip, or have plenty of time to wait around Labuan Bajo.
To book a trip online, you can either contact the individual tour operators or book through a third-party travel agent such as Viator that sells a selection of the more established tours.
Viator has tours for most budgets, from short day trips to multi-day excursions, including the excellent three-day tour we went on with Flores XP Adventures.
Komodo Dragon Tour Day 1
We got picked up at our hotel at 7:30 in the morning, all excited and geared up for our dragon adventure. In the car, we met the other couple that was going to be our tour companions on this tour; Detlef and Gerdien from the Netherlands. They turned out to be the perfect tour companions and some real adventurous people who have been to a lot of exciting places all over the world. We connected immediately.
Onboard we were served coconut pancakes and bread for breakfast, while our Italian tour guides Max and Alex explained what was ahead of us during these three days. Max is also the owner of the tour company Flores XP, and a divemaster. Both of them are awesome tour guides and great people. We could not have been luckier! We were certain we had picked the right tour company.
Pearl Farm On Punggu Island
The first stop on our Dragon Tour was Punggu Island, a small island encircled by white beaches and turquoise water.
We got picked up by a small boat and went ashore where we met a guy from Atlas Pearl Farm. He took us around the farm and explained all about the production and the growing of pearls. Did you know that it takes about four years from you put the seed inside the clam before it is a big white pearl? It was really interesting learning about the pearl process.
We also went ashore where we got to visit the factory where they extract the pearls from the clams.
And finally the best part – The showroom and shop of Atlas` pearl products. Oh boy, I wanted to buy it all….. I ♥ Pearls!
After the pearl temptation (No, I did unfortunately not have the money to buy that expensive neckless…. ), it was time for some snorkeling in the turquoise, fresh, salt, and perfectly temperate water. Iiiihaaaaa!
Back onboard Salacia, it was time for some delicious lunch. We had our own chef on board, constantly bringing us food, water, tea/coffee, and snacks. Ah, I could get used to that! We were totally spoilt, and we loved it.
Next up was Kanawa island for some more marvelous snorkeling. Oh boy, Kanawa island with its pristine white beach and crystal clear turquoise water is as near paradise as it is possible to come. Check this out – Don`t you just wish you were there right now?! I sure do!
It may sound stupid, but one actually gets pretty tired and worn out from snorkeling for several hours. So I jumped of joy discovering an empty hammock out in a sea hut. It just had my name written on it. Yeah, it is a hard life…..
Camping at Sebayur Island
Our guide Max basically had to drag us out of the hammock and off Kanawa Island. We fell totally in love with it and could have stayed there forever. But it was time to head over to another paradise island that was going to be our home for the next two days – Sebayur Island. It turned out to be nothing less of a paradise than Kanawa.
Even though we were a bit tired from all the snorkeling, we could not turn down Alex`s offer of hiking to the top of the island. Hey, we are Norwegians after all.
We strapped on our running shoes and started the climb. It was pretty steep, but not that far, and we did not regret it as we reached the top. Take a look at this A-M-A-Z-I-N-G view:
On our way down we met these two cuties:
On our way down we witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets we have ever seen:
While we were out ascending the island, the crew from the boat had set up a cozy little camping site for us, with tents and all. Being used to carrying all our camping equipment ourselves and setting it all up ourselves when camping back home in Norway, we felt like kings and queens. We sure could get used to this.
With this stunning view from our tents, we fell asleep dreaming of dragons……
The first day of our Komodo Adventure could not have been any better – nice weather, pearls, excellent snorkeling, delicious food, mountain trip, and it was all topped off with an amazing sunset.
Can day 2 match day 1, or even be better? Hmm, stay tuned for some mantas, dragons, and other adventures……
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Would you like to visit Komodo National Park? Have you been to any cool national parks? Where and how was it? Please leave a comment in the comment area below. If you enjoyed reading this post, please share on social media. Thanks!
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