On the day we had booked to see the dragons, I kept thinking “I’m going to see Komodo Dragons!”, surely this was going to be a highlight of our trip in Indonesia?
As we approached the boardwalk towards the National Park where the dragons live, I was super excited – I was so close to seeing them and it was only a matter of time … that’s if we find them of course, after all, they are wild animals.
Whilst following our ranger through the National Park, I kept my eyes peeled at all times looking out for a dragon; maybe it would be hidden behind a tree or perhaps I would see one walking through the undergrowth.
After about five minutes of walking, we suddenly stopped and our guided pointed to a pile of dragons – yes, literally a pile of dragons, all spread-eagled on top of one another. They were chilling outside the kitchen where the rangers’ food is prepared and we were told that the Komodos like the smell of the food and that’s why they are here.
Nevertheless, despite my disappointment, I was still looking at Komodo Dragons. Reality check; they were not caged in a zoo (not that I would go and see them there), they were free to get up and walk away whenever they wanted but they were choosing to be here right now, and there are literally a couple of places you can see these prehistoric creatures in the world and I was in one of them right now. Yes, I was able to look a Komodo Dragon in the eye. Tick that one off my bucket-list!
With all this lazing around however, it did give us an opportunity to get a good look at the dragons; observing the size of their thick, muscly, scaly bodies and long, sharp and very dangerous claws.
There was a baby dragon around two years old sitting behind the hut so we moved closer to photograph him. He was about two metres long which included his long tail and we watched him for a few minutes. He turned his head to look at us, so we snapped away with the camera; finally, we were able to see a dragon in action, even if it was only a couple of years old.
After walking through a stream and up a gravel-path hill, our guide stopped and instructed us to admire the view. We looked around admiring the beautiful lush green hills and stunning colours of the ocean within the National Park. It really was gorgeous and after about five minutes, our ranger asked if we were ready to return.
Although I am glad I went to see them, I mean, I couldn’t not go and visit them as we were so close, I can’t help but feel underwhelmed and disappointed. I honestly thought it would be a much more natural encounter and more like a safari but, as with most tourist attractions in parts of the world, to increase the chances of seeing these wild animals and to keep the lucrative business going, man has stepped in.
I have since read a few reviews of tours to see the dragons and people have said they found them around a water hole or on a beach so that may possibly be in Komodo Island and not Rinca Island. Read the reviews here on Trip Advisor, some of these experiences sound a lot more authentic. It is true that with all “wild” encounters, there is an element of hit or miss, and although we did see the dragons, it didn’t feel “wild” hence the sense of being underwhelmed.
In truth, if I were faced with the decision whether or not to visit them knowing what I know now, I would definitely still go, but I would choose a company that offered a more natural way of finding them and I would try to see them in Komodo and not Rinca. They are worth seeing, after all, they are Komodo Dragons!
Komodo Dragon Facts
- Komodos are very rare and are only found in the wild. They are in the Komodo National Park islands of Komodo, Rinca, Gili Montang and Gili Dasami and apparently roam free within Flores.
- Komodos are the largest lizards and the average male is 8ft – 9ft but they can reach 10ft (3 metres) in length. Females are around 6ft long.
- The average dragon weighs around 70kg but large males can be up to 140kg.
- Komodos have good vision and can see as far as 300 metres.
- They can reach speeds of up to 20 kph.
- They like to live in high temperatures around 35°c.
- They will eat large prey such as water buffalo, deer, carrion, pigs and even humans as well as other smaller dragons.
- The Komodo has a unique way of killing its prey. First, it springs up and knocks the prey over with its huge feet. Then they use their sharp, serrated shark-like teeth and claws to shred their prey to death. If the prey escapes, it will die within 24 hours of blood poisoning because (according to National Geographic) the Komodo’s saliva contains large amounts of bacteria. With its fantastic sense of smell, the Komodo will find the dead animal and finish its meal.
- The females can produce babies asexually and do not need a male to fertilise their eggs.
- Dragons are born only 12 inches long and apparently, as soon as they hatch, they will run away and climb up trees until they around 8 months old to avoid being eaten by their mother or other Komodos.
- Dragons live to around 30 years old.
Have you been to Rinca or Komodo to see the dragons? What were your thoughts and what experience did you have with them?
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