Komodo National Park - 9th to 14th September

Jeremy & Sally Paul
Mon 28 Sep 2009 01:43

Komodo National Park – 9th to 14th September


Liam brought his girlfriend Jennifer back from Bali on the 8th where the two of them joined us on Astra at Labuan Bajo.  On the morning of the 9th, we set off on the short hop across to Komodo National Park.  Our first two hour sail was to the ranger station on the island of Rinca up a narrow creek to visit the mighty Komodo dragons.  That afternoon we hired a local guide to take us on a 2 hour walk around the island.  The walk through the bush and into the hills took us past some rather special wildlife to say the least!  We saw dozens of huge Komodo Dragons, Buffalo, Deer and Monkeys.  Our guide told us that the 3 metre dragons were able to kill a buffalo from a single bite causing the bacteria to spread and kill the buffalo over a couple of weeks.  However, this did not stop the boys getting extremely close to the dragons to take pictures.  The walk was extremely hot but well worth it to see such amazing creatures.


That evening, we decided to move out of the mangrove channel to avoid the mosquito’s that would have plagued us throughout the night if we had chosen to stay.  We tied up to a mooring buoy around the corner, had dinner aboard Astra and played cards that evening.


The following morning, we motored through some very strong and unpredictable currents to a bay off the island of Padar that had been recommended by Peter and Virginia of Saildance.  That day we went snorkelling along the reef off the headland and took the dinghy ashore to the pink beach (the red coral made the sand pink).  For the majority of the afternoon, it was a chill out on Astra followed by a fishing trip in the dinghy for the boys who returned once again with no fish – something that was becoming common in Indonesia with its overfished waters!  The events of the evening were identical to those of the previous night – cards followed by dinner prepared by Charlie.


During the morning of the 11th, we sailed approximately 20Nm back to the isle of Rinca in a channel by Cannonball Rock.  We anchored relatively close to the shore so decided to deploy a stern anchor which was dropped further out into the channel.  We took a couple of diving/snorkelling trips that day to the stunning dive site around the rock where we saw turtles and amazing coral and marine life.  Jennifer and Liam swam ashore where they were confronted by two Komodo Dragons at either end of the beach.  One of them started walking after them and forced Jennifer and Liam to swim into the sea.  We later learned that a few dragons had recently chased a deer into the sea where they drowned it (not good to know that they can swim fast).  That evening, it was a very long game of scrabble followed by an excellent pork dinner prepared by Charlie.


It was up relatively early on the morning of the 12th to drag the stern anchor back aboard and sail to Komodo Island by Manta Alley.  It took us a few hours to sail due west through a southerly swell to the island.  Upon arrival, the bay was far to exposed to the swell thus making a stop here pointless for both snorkelling and anchoring.  We then motored up the east coast of Komodo to an anchorage between Punja Island and the main island of Komodo.  We tied up to a mooring buoy in a stunning anchorage with pink beaches either side of us.  We all took a snorkelling trip to the main pink beach on Komodo and enjoyed the crystal clear water and extensive marine life.  We sat on the beach for some time while Oliver and Liam went back to Astra to get the dive gear for their dive trip along the reef off the beach.  The three boys did a drift dive while Jeremy sat in the dinghy on this pleasant afternoon. 


On their way back to Astra, the four of them went on a short cruise along the coastline and saw deer, goats and pigs along the beaches and hills.  When we returned, Sally and Jennifer were trying their luck at fishing off the back of Astra.  The girls made us curry that evening which was followed by a film.


We crept out of the pass on the morning of the 13th and continued our motor up the east coast of Komodo to search for some Manta Rays which proved impossible to find.  We ended up floating by Batu Bolong rock with Jeremy on Astra and Liam and Jenny in the dinghy whilst Sally and the boys took a dive on the leeward side of the rock (the currents were rapid either side of the rock).  We then motored around the corner north of Komodo to number 40 anchorage in the “101 Anchorages in Indonesia” book at Gili Lawa Laut-Rinca.  There were numerous yachts anchored here and it seemed to be in a good location.  However, the anchorage was open to the north swell which made this location a very unpleasant stopover. 


We spent most of the afternoon aboard Astra and towards sunset, Sally, Oliver, Jennifer and Liam took a fishing/snorkelling trip to Cystal Rock roughly half a mile offshore.  They caught a fish trawling around the rock but decided it was too small to eat.  They also reported back that the snorkelling around the rock looked impressive and recommended a dive trip to the site the following day.  That night, the anchorage was very rough and everyone was kept awake with the rolling when Astra swung sideward to the swell.


After a very rough nights sleep, Sally woke Oliver, Liam and Jennifer to take a diving trip to Crystal Rock.  Sally and Oliver dived around the rock while Liam and Jennifer looked after the dinghy and snorkelled.  Both parties had an excellent time with the divers seeing numerous sharks and good quality coral whilst the snorkelers saw sharks and pod of dolphins which swam to within 20 feet!  Sally and the boys then free-dived down to 20 metres next to Astra and saw 7 devil rays whilst snorkelling.  Oliver and Jeremy carried out jobs on Astra whilst the other four went snorkelling to the pass in between Komodo and Gili Lawa Laut-Rinca.  On the way to the pass, they came across a large Manta Ray with a wingspan of around 8 feet.  On the way back to Astra, they took a rather large de-tour and went snorkelling around Castle Rock some way out to sea. 


Shortly after that, Jeremy, Oliver and Liam went diving with Keith from Baccus to Crystal Rock where they came very close to a couple of sharks and a turtle.  All four really enjoyed the dive, with Keith extremely happy to go diving with someone else.  Around sunset, Sally and Jeremy went ashore for ‘sun-downers’ with the other yachts in the anchorage.  Upon their return to Astra, the dinghy came aboard and we prepared for the sail west towards Lombok thus avoiding another rough night rolling around in the anchorage.


Our five days in Komodo National Park was probably the highlight of our time in Indonesia thus far with amazing wildlife (especially the Komodo Dragons), scenic sails and anchorages, and crystal clear water around the dive sites.  We were thrilled to see sharks during our diving trips within the park as our time in Indonesia was proving that this area had been completely overfished.