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Komodo Dragons of Indonesia

Updated on December 12, 2014

There Be Dragons

Komodo National Park is a fascinating place, with barren, desolate features and the rare, slow lumbering giant lizards that most people go there to see. These endangered animals live on a small group of islands between Sumbawa and Flores in the Indonesian archipelago. The two biggest islands in the National Park are Komodo and Rinca. The nearest island on the regular tourist route is Bali and the nearest airport is on Flores. The Komodo Dragons live on Flores too, but no one bothers to tell you that, because there is a huge industry associated with chartering boats for trips out to the National Park. There was also, apparently, no way of getting to see them on Flores, when I was there anyway, most of the research into this endangered species having been done on the islands, not on the mainland.

The Komodo Dragons, which are a kind of monitor lizard, grow up to 10 feet long and can move surprisingly fast, easily out running a human. They wander freely around the islands and can even swim between them, but so far only one tourist has been eaten, although a few of the villagers have had injuries. Every tourist who arrives there is told the story of the poor Swiss tourist who wandered off on his own to take photographs and was never seen again. His camera was found hanging in a tree. This presumably is to prevent more visitors doing the same.

These huge monitor lizards only live on this small cluster of islands and although there are other big monitors elsewhere in the world, none are as impressive as these ten foot long powerful beasts, especially when viewed on these desolate prehistoric islands.

Please also see my Asian Photo Gallery

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Flores, the biggest of the islands that the lizards inhabit, has an airport, with flights from Bali. It takes several hours to get there in small old planes, which hop between other islands on the way and tend to have a slightly unreliable service, so you need to allow several days for a trip to Komodo National Park. The biggest island in the National park is Komodo, but Rinca also has a large number of "dragons", so both of these fairly large islands should be visited. When I was there, I was stranded on Flores for an extra day because the airline claimed the plane wasn't working, although I suspect they didn't have enough passengers to warrant taking off.

Komodo Island:

Boats can be booked from Flores to the National park. My traveling companion and I hired a boat and pilot for two days, and slept and ate on the boat, moored off Komodo Island. We managed a bit of snorkeling during the trip too and many tourists come to Komodo specifically for diving. I can't remember the cost, but it was sufficiently inexpensive for us to charter the boat for just two people rather than joining a group.

Flores had basic accommodation and restaurants, but was not a particularly interesting place to stay except as a base for visiting the National Park, or diving.

Map of Komodo, Indonesia - Where is Komodo Island?

A markerkomodo, Indonesia -
komodo, Indonesia
get directions

The recommended amount of time to spend at the islands was two days, to improve the chance of seeing some of these endangered prehistoric creatures and my guidebook warned that there was a reasonable chance of not seeing any at all. The smaller island, Rinca has fewer dragons and allegedly a lower chance of seeing any. When I arriver at Rinca, the dragons apparently were not aware of this and a fairly large lizard was waiting for me on the jetty. The pilot of the boat smacked him over the head with an oar and he reluctantly lumbered away. No wonder they are endangered.

Guides met us and tourists from other boats, on arrival and briefed us on what we would see and we set off on a walking tour in small groups. The guides were equipped with thin walking sticks and running shoes. I thought that this seemed rather inadequate protection from a ten foot lizard, until I realised that in the event of a dragon-attack the guide could simply hit a tourist over the head and run away. Fortunately this never occurred.

During the time spent on the islands we saw many sleeping dragons of various sizes and quite a few wandering around, but the best sightings were in a clearing on Komodo Island. When the first tourists visited Komodo, many years ago, they would purchase a goat and tie it up in a clearing and wait to watch it being devoured by the dragons. They don't do that any more, but a few old dragons with good memories still come back to the clearing. I got some excellent photos from there, of dragons coming towards me with blood on their mouths after a kill nearby. The guide got rather agitated because I insisted on waiting for the ideal shot as they got closer, before jumping over the barrier into the safe viewing area.

We also visited the main village on Komodo Island, with its simple wooden huts on legs, to keep the dragons out and frightened looking goats and children running around underneath them.

Summary

Komodo National Park was a wonderful, memorable place to visit and I certainly don't regret it, but it is a big detour even if you are staying in Bali and does take several days. If we had gone all that way and not seen any dragons I would have been very disappointed.

Both Komodo and Rinca has a large number of Komodo monitor lizards of various sizes wandering around or sleeping. The biggest grow to about ten feet in length, which while not the only monitor lizard in the world of enormous length, it is by far the heaviest.

More reading on the subject

Komodo Dragon Gifts and Souvenirs

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    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

      Super awesome animals!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      you're the real explorer...

    • BalkanMarko profile image

      BalkanMarko 5 years ago

      Wow, I was there in 1998, I took a boat from Flores and it was just great.

    • OrlandoTipster profile image

      OrlandoTipster 5 years ago

      To be honest they look downright scary.

    • profile image

      gusticinside 5 years ago

      I proud of you have wrote almost completed about the Komodo Island as I am from Flores island too

    • profile image

      keraton 5 years ago

      luar biasa...om, good lens

    • Thrinsdream profile image

      Thrinsdream 5 years ago

      We used to see monitor lizards a lot at home. Loved this lens. WIth thanks and appreciation. Cathi x

    • profile image

      Alta1Vista 5 years ago

      I amazed about this comodo dragon. Incredible!

    • Andy-Po profile image
      Author

      Andy 5 years ago from London, England

      @Mairis: Yes. It used to be thought that they used very potent bacteria in their mouths that can cause serious infections to kill their prey, but it is now thought that they do actually have a venom gland too.

    • Mairis profile image

      Mairis 5 years ago

      is it true dragon have poisen in it's tounge?

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      These guys look so huge.

    • Bill Armstrong profile image

      Bill Armstrong 5 years ago from Valencia, California

      Nice lens, my boss actually went to Indonesia and came across these guy's, saw some nice pictures, not to be messed with

    • profile image

      awayb 5 years ago

      great lens...learn so much from this lens..

    • vkumar05 profile image

      vkumar05 5 years ago

      Great Lens. Very nice pics too.

    • Shorebirdie profile image

      Shorebirdie 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

      Looks like you had an incredible adventure going to see these guys. Makes me want to go, too.

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 5 years ago

      Incredible creatures! Thanks.

    • SayGuddaycom profile image

      SayGuddaycom 5 years ago

      Always been fascinated by these critters

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 5 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      thanks for the info about these giant lizards. i want to see them. ~blessed~

    • rewards4life info profile image

      rewards4life info 5 years ago

      I would love to go and see Komodo Dragons they are so prehistoric looking a real glimpse in to the past. Great lens some amazing pictures, your braver than me.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nice pics sharing here soft close drawer slides what an awesome pics, and it looks so much vacations in komodo island

    • profile image

      akbarzpro 5 years ago

      Indonesia is The best country for Tour... Because Indonesia is Terpopuler, Cara Membuat Martabak, martabak is the delicious food from Indonesia

    • Lenskeeper profile image

      Lenskeeper 5 years ago

      Komodo Dragons are interesting animals.

    • profile image

      technomage 6 years ago

      your lens inspire me to write article about komodo and komodo island. check it at :

      Komodo Island is The NEW 7 Wonders of The World

    • meisgood132 profile image

      meisgood132 6 years ago

      Are you sure we can only find these real dragons in Indonesia, I'm pretty sure I say one in Tenerife.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      wow, we only can find komodo in Indonesia.. white gloves

    • bkarsono profile image

      bkarsono 6 years ago

      Well written...!!

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 6 years ago

      Love your lens. Simply wonderful.

    • profile image

      doubleside lm 6 years ago

      I am so happy when someone there wrote about Indonesia.

      Nice lens. :)

    • jackieb99 profile image

      jackieb99 6 years ago

      They're so cool...I'd love to visit them one day.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      The reason to go to Indonesia! Cool

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      The reason to go to Indonesia! Cool

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Someday we should visite komodo island to watch the comodo dragon indonesia siap bersaing di serp

    • Andy-Po profile image
      Author

      Andy 7 years ago from London, England

      @indigoj: Thanks very much for the blessing. Yes. Quite right too. I don't condone the slapping of heads with oars (endangered species or otherwise)

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      I enjoyed your tale and all the great pictures of your encounter with the Komodo Dragons of Indonesia, although I did worry about the head-slapping with oars. Sounds like you escaped that fate. :) Delighted to leave an ~*~* Angel Blessing *~*~ on this unique and engaging lens.

      (By the way... my comment security word is twitdragon!)

    • profile image

      oxynom 7 years ago

      This lens is awesome. I love it. I am going to tell my editors on my Thai News website to write something about this lens and probably feature it.

      I will comment here again once we do.

      Great Work

    • profile image

      Dilasari 7 years ago

      Though I live in Jakarta, Indonesia, I've never been to the komodo Island. Thanks to your beautiful posts and photos. I really enjoy the story.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I took in an iguana that needed a home. It was up to 25" long when we gave it to some friends that just loved it. I enjoyed George while with us for about a year or more. It loved to go for walks outside and drew the neighborhood kids over. Iguanas are either good or bad tempered, this one was good. It loved to be held and liked to kiss you cheek.

      We had 2 kittens when we got George. The first time I let George out on the kitchen floor the kittens wanted to get too close and play, so they got a lizard tail swished at them. That was the only time I seen any aggression from a nice pet.

      I do love this lens Andy, been here before. Shelly reminded me of it and it was once a gain a pleasure to visit this interesting page. ~ Blessed by a Squid Angel today!

      Susie

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I watched a PBS special on Komodo Dragons last week. The fellow who was presenting the special said that Komodos are very smart and are the only ones in the lizard family that are looking back at you while you are looking at them. We were amazed to learn that they are pretty affectionate and love to be stroked on the head and neck--however, I will be very content to see from afar.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      Wow, these are unbelievable -- the iguanas of Costa Rica scared me silly -- imagine what encountering a komodo dragon would do???

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Beautiful, just beautiful!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      Welcome to The Nature and the Outdoors Group

      Lizzy

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      This is a nice lens, Andy! - I like to put places lenses in Local, because Local does get higher ratings then Travel for some reason. If I can work it in somehow I do it! :))

      These Komodo Dragons are some awesome creatures. It must be kinda scary to get close enough to take pictures of them.

    • greenerme profile image

      greenerme 8 years ago

      These are amazing creatures. It must have been a site to see to actually see them in person.

    • Snozzle profile image

      Snozzle 8 years ago

      Great photos. You are giving me itchy feet!

      Mike.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Great Photos. I had to search a few lenses to find one I could add a comment to though (as an outsider).

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 8 years ago from Royalton

      Thanks for the virtual trip.

    • anthropos lm profile image

      Lamar Ross 8 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for joining ”Anything and Everything Travel” Group. We look forward to seeing your other travel related lenses in our group. Keep up the good work. For a categorized list of my travel lenses and other lenses see my Lensography..

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 8 years ago from Covington, LA

      Almost like being there, but without the primitive living conditions. Great lens. Welcome to the Naturally Native Squids group. Don't forget to add your lens link to the appropriate plexo and vote for it.

    • heehaw lm profile image

      heehaw lm 8 years ago

      Hey guys, did you know that andy flu to indonesia just to get these pictures? so you should be thankful of him.

    • Rich-H profile image

      Rich 8 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      Awesome pictures and a wonderful lens! 5*s

    • profile image

      coopd 8 years ago

      Fascinating lizards! Thank you for joining my Nature Lovers group :)

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

      I saw these at the San Diego Zoo last year. It would be really amazing to see one just wandering around! Welcome to All Things Travel.