– Komodo & Rinca Islands

Komodo & Rinca Islands

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Nestled between Sumbawa and Flores, the islands of Komodo and Rinca, their jagged hills carpeted with savannah and fringed with mangroves, are home to the legendary Komodo dragon. The world’s largest lizard, known locally as ora, it can reach over 3m in length and weigh up to 100kg. It hunts alone and feeds on animals as large as deer and buffalo, both of which are found here. The males also try to eat the females’ eggs, inevitably sparking a vicious battle of the sexes.

These isolated islands are surrounded by some of the most tempestuous waters in Indonesia. The convergence of warm and cold currents breeds nutritious thermal climes, rip tides and whirlpools that attract large schools of pelagics, from dolphins and sharks to manta rays and blue whales. The coral here is mostly pristine. Add it all up and you have some of the best diving in the world, which is why nearly 50 liveaboards ply these waters between April and September when the crossing is smooth and the diving at its finest.

There are numerous hiking trails, but it’s not permitted to explore without an armed guide, a forked staff his only weapon, as dragons have very occasionally attacked (and killed) humans. Two villagers have died in the last 20 years, and in June 2012 a ranger was once again attacked on Rinca in his office. He survived. Dragons are generally a docile bunch, but they can snap your leg as fast as they’ll cut a goat’s throat. Respect the beasts.


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