Welcom to Komodo

Trip Start May 04, 2011
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Trip End Oct 08, 2012


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Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Today was a full packed day starting at 7:00AM we took a dingy over to the park entrance for an hour stroll to see the Komodo dragons. Upon arrival we were greeted by the monkeys and our guides. These young kids were going to be our protectors against the large ferocious reptiles with nothing but a long wooden stick.

Twenty meters from the ranger station we saw our first dragon basking in the sun. A few facts about the Komodo dragon, their attacks are deadly, their best weapons are their sharp teeth and dagger-sharp claws not to mention their potent bacteria their mouths contain. Their jaws are considerably large to the point that they can swallow a goat whole.

Let me remind you, I was within 10 feet proximity to these creatures with nothing but a young kid with a stick there to defend me, if need be. We came across one other male in the middle of the trail who was moving rather well for having two broken front legs. Soon thereafter, we arrived at a fork in the road. We opted for the unbeaten path with a nice panoramic view of the water and the hills, also leading us to another lizard spotting. It seems that July/August is mating season so the lizards are all off in the dessert fighting one another for the few females out there. We also learned that come September the females lay the eggs in a large hole which they guard for three months, although the incubation process lasts a total of eight months. However, once the mother leaves, they don't return until it is time to lay eggs the following season. Less than half of the eggs will survive and from that only another 50 percent will hatch and survive. Without an adult lizard, the babies are left to fend for themselves. Small enough to retreat to the trees, they can survive this way for the first three years.

Back on the boat by 8:40AM we were in the water diving Wanilu by 9:30AM. This "muck dive" was good for seeing Nudi Fish and Cleaner Shrimp. We also saw a giant Cuttle Fish. After 46 minutes in the water we were back on board for breakfast. After a surface interval of 3:20 we moved to a sheltered reef called Bata Bolong.  I’m calling this the “big picture” dive because there are just so many tropical fish and things to look at, that it’s just one wide screen TV view. Here we saw Giant Moray Eel, Yellow Tail Eel, Napoleon Wrasse, and the star of the show were several large Hawksbill Turtles.

The day was not over yet, at around 4:00PM we went back down for our third dive of the day. This spot, Karang Mantassar, is known for spotting Manta Rays which we could see just from the boat actually. Anxious to get in I tried a new borrowed short suit today which proved to not be as warm as the long sleeve jacket and sleeveless, short suit. As amazing as it was to swim just under these enormous flying/swimming creatures, and proud to be maintaining my buoyancy, I was shivering from the cold. I pulled out early and returned to the boat. Any fresh water on the boat works on a pump system. What you can foot pump you get and cold of course. Even so, I couldn’t wait for a good rinse and to change into something warm.

Once everyone returned we shared notes about the impressive dive. We not only saw the Manta and Blue Spotted Sting Ray but there was one White Tip Shark spotting as well.

Unfortunately, this is the second afternoon that we have surfaced from a cold dive and the sky is clouded over. So much for sun-bathing this trip. I spent the afternoon downloading Umut’s underwater photos and learning the names of the various marine life before a fantastic barbeque chicken was served.

I’d like to say that evening activities of card playing and reading were all that occurred tonight before bedtime but not necessarily the case. First we were entertained by tossing the compost and chicken bones into the sea to witness the outline of a very large fish. Some believe it was a shark, the silhouette seemed like an eight foot Jaws like beast, while what we saw after ten minutes was more like a Giant Travelly. The next bit of excitement was the discovery of several cockroaches in Martin and Joan’s toiletry bag. Ironically, we were just commenting on how clean the boat appeared until now.  Regardless, the women that we are, this scared Joan and Burcu enough to bring them all out on deck with me for the night. It was like a dorm room as well all dragged out our individual mattresses and set up camp. Good night!
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Comments

Cookie (Mom's school friend) on

Stacey, Mom told me of your travels and all can say is that you have the life of adventure that everyone wishes for. Not only is your dream being fullfilled, but your writings are masterful. Stay safe and enjoy every minute!

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