There are three things you will find about Indonesia on all travel blogs: 1) relax and visit temples in Bali; 2) dive and go to the beach in the Gillis and 3) visit the Komodo Dragon. You probably wonder why all the fuss about a lizard. Subject of countless documentaries and TV nature programs, the main thing about this lizard is that, like many other rare animals, it is only to be found on two little islands in the vast archipelago that is Indonesia: Komodo and Rinca. This usually involves either a long boat trip from Bali or a flight with a local carrier. These lizards are fierce creatures, the size of a large crocodile but more agile and ready to attack pretty much anything on two or four feet. Komodo National Park is a UNESCO site and is the only place to see the world’s largest lizard in the wild.
How to get there: you have two alternatives and the choice depends on the available time. The fastest is flying. You can do it form Java and Bali. We were in Bali at the time so we booked tickets in advance with Merpati from Denpasar to Flores Island, Labuan Bajo airport. Despite being an EU ‘black listed’ carrier I found them to have a quite new fleet and no recent tragic accidents. The website is easy to navigate and they accept payment by foreign cards. The return flight went smoothly and they even offered some limited on board service that made the time pass faster. As a bonus, you might get a very nice view of Mt. Rinjiani on Lombok, piercing through the clouds. You are looking t about 1h 15 from Denpassar to Labuan Bajo. Accommodation: As the waters of the Flores sea are famed for the great diving, I went for a more upscale place that offered diving trips together with the opportunity to see the National Park. The name is Angel Island Resort and it has about 12 cottage-style houses spread on a private island about an hour or so boat drive from Labuan Bajo. They took care of everything from transfer to all meals and organized our trip to Rinca as well as the introductory diving classes. I can warmly recommend them if you are not on a budget. Activities: these waters are full of marine life. Snorkeling and diving are great both around Flores and around the smaller islands of the archipelago. A first diving experience here and you will probably be hooked (as it happened to me). Finally, the visit to the national park to see the Komodo dragon because this is why you flew half way around the world. Please have a look before that there are no events/festivities that might get the park closed for a few days. In September 2013, there was the Suskeskhan Sail Komodo event that consisted in sailing competitions around the island with the participation of Indonesia’s president. This meant the park was closed to outside visitors for 4-5 days. It is unlikely that this is an yearly affair but you should have a look nonetheless not to be disappointed on arrival.