If Ýou’re in Bali, Pop Over to Komodo and See the Dragons

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An adolescent Komodo dragon glances at his visitors on Komodo Island, near Bali, Indonesia. photo by James Griffin.
An adolescent Komodo dragon glances at his visitors on Komodo Island, near Bali, Indonesia. photo by James Griffin.

To many Australian college students, the island of Bali is their ultimate playground. Like their counterparts in the US who flock to Panama Beach in Florida, Bali is pretty close to Sydney and Melbourne and the flights are usually pretty cheap.

Aussies can create their own bali adventure tours for very little money!  Right next to the island of Bali, just three islands over in fact is a place where there is a unique animal found in only one other place in the world: The Komodo Dragon.

Komodo Island has a park center at Loh Liang where there are maps, groomed trails and several small wooden buildings that sell trinkets and admission tickets, to get right next to the world’s largest reptiles. Joining these ferocious man-eaters are forest pigs, water buffalo and water sloughs.

James Griffin wrote about Komodo Island on GoNOMAD, and said it was quite an adventure seeing these lumbering man-sized giant lizards in their natural habitats.  “On our venture immediately off the Loh Buaya jetty two dragons lay sunning themselves. Our boat captain calmly encouraged us to walk quickly past the dragons while he held them at bay with a forked walking stick.

We smiled nervously. Compared to a venomous bite and razor sharp teeth, we had a twig and bare legs: the sheep fending off the wolf with a stick. Thankfully the blazing tropical sun demands that these three-meter, cold-blooded beasts spend most of their day resting.

Hiking both Komodo and Rinca is an adventure in itself. The trails are clear cut only so far as the ranger stations. Beyond that, the common paths are more akin to game trails of North America: narrow and unrefined.
Tall grass and dense brush border the path across most of the park. Wearing shorts and hiking sandals, we constantly wondered what might lie a half meter off the path ahead.

Our stick-wielding guide was constantly reassuring us that he could more than handle any dragon that might consider us for a mid-day snack. We were never quite convinced, and smiled politely as he reminded us of the park’s insurance policy.