We met this handsome Komodo
dragon at the island of Rinja (or Rinca) about15 miles south from Labuan Bajo.
The island and surrounding waters are part of a National Park although there are
a few fishing villages around the edges. We spent the first night at anchor in
this idyllic anchorage.....
and the next at this one....
The beach in the background is home to at least 4
Komodo "dragons". These unique giant monitor lizards are efficient carnivores
and can kill prey as large as buffalo, horse and deer that they share the island
with as well as wild boar, goats, snakes and monkeys. They can swim well and can
run at 80 kilometers per hour for short distances. They hunt by stealth, well
camouflaged they lay in wait at the side of tracks for animals to pass then put
on a powerful turn of speed, swiping with a tail that can break a man's back,
slashing with massive claws, and delivering the fatal bite.They are not actually
venomous but their mouths are so full of harmful bacteria that once bitten the
prey dies over a matter of days whilst the dragon or "ora" as it is known
locally, bides its time and tracks it down.
Needless to say we kept at a safe distance in the
This part of Indonesia is different from other parts we
have been. It is more remote, richer in fauna and largely unspoilt. The water is
very clear but deep and cold. The coral is in excellent condition and there are
lots of fish, some we have never seen before, others more familiar like the
angel, clown and unicorn fish are here in much larger numbers. The whole area is
extremely beautiful and very interesting. We did, however, check out the beaches
carefully when landing.
The seas here are deep and turbulent being riven with
fast currents which rush through the channels between the islands. There are
lots of overfalls causing banks of breaking water when wind is against tide with
speeding whirlpools which look like boiling cauldrons. Sailing has to be
carefully timed, we always need to arrive at a new anchorage when the sun is
still high enough for reef spotting but also want the tide either with us or
slack as currents of up to 7 knots can stop the boat or drive it back if it is
in full flow against us. If the current is with us there is very fast and
glorious sailing to be had. Because of the need to arrive at a new anchorage
early we never have it all our way and usually have to start out with some
current against us then going with us as the tide changes.
We stopped at 4 different anchorages on our
circumnavigation of Rinca and at the 4th we went for an early morning
walk with a ranger equipped with a long stick and a healthy disregard for the
reputation of the ora.
A male Komodo Dragon about 3 metres long.
This ora felt very big..... the guide was rather on the
He enjoyed his practical jokes:
Part of a water buffallo skeleton found on the
Dragon nests are huge and the incubation period for the
eggs is a staggering nine months.