Shortly after coming back completely in love with Thailand, we started to decide another great destination for the following summer. Since we had been absolutely delighted with Southeast Asia, we considered ourselves a cheap destination in the area but different, that offered totally new things. Indonesia emerged as a favorite and also because of the incredible Komodo National Park.
Once decided, we started buying flights (which was not easy due to the connections between the zones), directly in the airlines of the country and booking hotels. We chart the routes, and buy the Indonesia travel guide. I have to say that it was much cheaper than Thailand from food, hotels and everything else.
Day 1 - Bali
Our flight to Jakarta departed promptly at 1.15 in the morning. We put on a movie and fell asleep. After landing at the Bali Airport in a purely Indian style, we picked up the suitcases and went straight to make the visa, without lines or people. We paid and they pointed out an exit that did not look like it at all. It was like the back door.
Finally, with the sealed passport we were already in Indonesia. With the feeling of having skipped a step we went out to the avalanche of taxi drivers asking right and left if we wanted a vehicle. Just outside the arrivals terminal, there is an official taxi agency, which has pre-set prices for each and every one of the different areas of Bali.
We got in the taxi. I will not comment much more about our night of stopover in Bali, as I will expand on it during the last stage. We have already begun to guess what would be, if not the best, of the best stages of the trip. Here we breathed an atmosphere very different from the rest of the country. Indian Temples flooded the island and with it all the wonders that it carries.
We arrived at the hostel, located unbeatable between the Poppies Lane II and III near Jalan Legian. We left the suitcases and went to dinner in one of the first places we saw. Here the offer is really cheap. Afterwards we gave ourselves a Balinese massage as a final culmination to an intense day.
We kicked ourselves in the vicinity of the hotel, before returning to the hotel to sleep since the next day our flight left at 8.50 direct to Labuan Bajo.
Day 2 - Labuan Bajo
The flight was timely although I have to say that during the month of July they sent us several messages informing of changes in the schedules. At the end the original flight that had to leave at 10.10 did at 8.50, almost an hour and a half in advance. The views from the plane were incredible.
We flew over the massive Tambora volcano, on the island of Sumbawa, with an immense crater that was very easy to imagine as responsible for changing the planet's climate for one year, when it erupted for the last time in 1815. This being the largest volcanic eruption recorded in history, where tons of ash were poured over the atmosphere, leaving Europe and North America without summer.
We also had the chance to enjoy all the islands that make up Nusa Tengara Barat, and observe the diametral change in the vegetation and ecosystems despite the geographical proximity to cross the Wallace Line that separates Asia from Oceania geographically. In the last glaciation a submarine pit constituted an insurmountable barrier on both sides.
It is the reason why the species evolved of very different way being created some special circumstances by which it is believed that the dragons of Komodo are endemic of this unique place. Finally we arrived at the Labuan Bajo airport, the smallest airport I have ever walked.
It only has two rooms, one for billing and another that serves as arrivals and departures. So much so, that when we get off the plane by an escalator with 4-step wheels, we wait in the room until an operator brings the suitcases to a pulse and places them on a platform as an auction. I love this kind of thing.
Once with the suitcase, we went outside and took a taxi to the hotel that we had booked in the center of town very close to the airport. Labuan Bayo is a fishing village that has very little tourist influx. There are few hotels and a few tour and diving agencies. It has little gastronomic offer and the nearby beaches are nothing special but it serves as a base to see the incredible Komodo National Park for a very affordable price.
The road in Labuan Bajo is circular. This means that the town only has one address and if you pass by you have to go back to surrounding the town that will take you at least 10 minutes extra. We arrived at the hotel at 11 o'clock in the morning and for the first time in my life it was overbooked.
The hotel to which we went had no views anywhere and to get there we had to climb for half an hour through the jungle. We check in a bit pissed off, although the ones in this hotel were not to blame for anything. On the contrary, they behaved very well. They gave us a room for that night and they left us a room for the return of the tour from Komodo that we thought to reserve that same day.
And since we were a bit far away, they drove us down to the center of town, specifically in a place where they rented motorcycles. We rented a motorbike for the same day, to return it the next morning before taking the boat to Komodo. We went through several agencies asking for prices and all asked for the private tour.
In the end, we found a place, where a boy of about 13 years old took care of us, who left us the shared excursion with few more people. We accepted the deal and gave a advance. The rest we would pay the next day at 8 o'clock, just before leaving by boat. As soon as we finished, we went to eat at a restaurant.
I do not remember the name but the place. The food was less and insipid. I did not care anymore. The site had good views over the Labuan Bajo bay and that made up for everything. As soon as we finished, we went on a motorcycle heading south, looking for some beach to spend the afternoon. On this road, once we have left the town there are a few luxury hotels and the occasional restaurant.
The beaches were nothing special. So we went in the opposite direction. After passing the town again, we climb a hill full of flowers and go up the road to infinity, passing by small peninsulas and bays. We stopped at a small beach in the shape of a half moon, surrounded by cliffs at the ends. With a hotel almost at the beginning, we were completely alone. The day was totally clear and hot, although it was not cramped.
We lay on the towel to enjoy the day. The water in Flores was amazing, and the sea looked like a raft. After bathing and diving, we fell asleep on the towel, until we woke up with the sunset. We were alone and the tide had dropped so much that the corals began to appear. As soon as the sun started to set, we went back to the motorbike and saw the last rays of light in the ocean at some point on the road that links Labuan Bajo with that calm bay.
We arrived at the hotel at night to shower and change clothes before going out to dinner in the town. We had noticed a restaurant, a kind of three-storey bungalow restaurant, with a giant wooden terrace overlooking the sea. We get both western dishes and Indonesian cuisine. After eating copiously chicken sate and burger with banana shake, we went back to the hotel.
We stock up on supplies for the Komodo adventure with tobacco, chocolate, juices, cookies. We got into bed soon because the next day we had to leave the motorcycle and be at 8:00 in the agency. In Labuan Bajo there is everything, banks, agencies, hotels. Despite being a small town with few tourists, it is starting to grow as it serves as a starting point to know Komodo, with which there are many works of future hotels and other infrastructure.
Day 3 - Komodo National Park
At 6 in the morning I was already on my feet and I saw the sunrise. The sun is red and the sea a raft. It seems incredible that there are so many currents. People still take time to stretch and appear on the deck. Each one has breakfast at one end of the ship but at 8 am we are all ready to board the boats that bring us to the Komodo island.
We pay for the camera and glasses for snorkeling in the Natural Park. Although the dragons bear their name, it is easier to see them in the neighboring island of Rinca since the population of these lizards is much higher. Afterwards, we walked to what would be our boat. It was quite similar to that of Borneo. It took us almost two and a half hours to get to Rinca.
The landscape was fascinating. Millions of islands populated that bay of Labuan Bajo and the Komodo National Park. Before arriving at the port they explain that we will do a trekking of two hours, accompanied at all times with rangers. It is important that we never leave the group and the women cannot visit the island since the dragons smell the blood more than 5 km away.
We are in a wild island with wild animals, not in a zoo so we may or may not see these bugs. We start the route. There are trees but all the low vegetation is dry and yellow. It is not that the landscape is very beautiful but at least it seems that if we find something, it will be easier to see. It was like entering Jurassic Park. We arrived at Loh Buaya, where the camp was located and a wooden hut where the guided tour of a park ranger was processed.
We went through a fountain (which is nothing more than a puddle) where they are supposed to drink and there is no luck. We continue walking. After more than half an hour walk it gives us a feeling that we will not see anything until the ranger warns us that there is one. It is huge and walks at a slow pace, looks at us and continues its march.
It is an adult male about 3 meters. The females are smaller and the young live in the trees until 3 years old because of the bad habit that adults have of being cannibals. It is a very big bug but it did not seem fierce or fast. I think they must be very well fed and not interested in any prey that involves an effort to hunt.
We keep walking and again the ranger stops. He tells us that there is another (although I believe it is the same). It is also adult male and very large. It stands still, takes out his forked tongue and watches us. The ranger controls that nobody approaches more than the required while taking photos. When the dragon thinks he has posed enough, he leaves.
After 2 hours away of walking and we have only seen two. We were surprised watching the close combat between the two dragons, and the guide told us that it was very difficult to see something like that live. After recording the video of the combat and the withdrawal of the attacker we continue the path through the jungle. On our way we were seeing wild boars, deer that came out to the step startled by the noise of footsteps, water buffalo, which waited in puddles and swamps to protect themselves from the varans.
We reached the end of the jungle and crossed the country through the highest area of the island from where we had magnificent views of the entire archipelago. Here we realize that the vegetation has nothing to do with the lushness and exuberance of Lombok or Bali.
We get back to the starting point, to the cafeteria and there we see two more. We had already read in forums that it was the place where it was guaranteed to find. They wait for the leftovers there so there is always someone hanging around. The meal consisted of rice, chicken, vegetables and noodles. Some photos and again the boat take us to the site that we have been sold as the best snorkel destination of the trip.
In about an hour we reach Pink Beach. The beach is beautiful. It is large, with white sand and turquoise water. Finally a place where we can bathe well! It's called pink beach because there are tiny bits of coral of that color in the sand. There are many fishes, starfish, sea turtles and lots of colored coral but they had put this place so high that we expected more. When I thought I had lost the opportunity in the Gili to be able to dive with them, they appear here.
We followed them for a long time until they disappeared into the darkness of the open sea. Happy we went back diving to the boat that was waiting for us. We saw a shark relatively close. The truth is that the marine life that we had enjoyed in Komodo had been the best to date by far, both in beauty and in biodiversity, I also keep a special memory for having fulfilled the desire to dive with sea turtles to have stayed with the desire in Gili Air.
There we docked the boat to spend the night. As it was still day, we sat on the stern of the boat to see the sunset and the flying foxes that crossed the sky with the sunset. As soon as it got dark we went on deck to have dinner, chat for a long time and prepare to sleep, while the crew was fishing with a rod. I do not know what time it was when we fell asleep, but I know we woke up with the sunrise and this would be about 6 in the morning.
Day 4 - Manta Point and Bidadari
On the way back to Labuan Bajo, which would take us all day, we had yet to stop at two dive sites, Manta Point and Bidadari. It took us about three hours to reach the sighting point. We spent three hours sunbathing at the stern of the boat. As soon as we arrived I realized that the surroundings were absolutely paradisiacal.
There were some atolls of white sand with palm trees inside. The last stop was Bidadari. They left us at the shore and we went to dive. There we spent the last three hours of the tour, diving and sunbathing in a movie enclave, taking photos and enjoying the end of our stay in Flores.
We arrived at Labuan Bajo around 4:00 pm. Loaded with the backpacks we left the port. We had intended to go to the hotel on foot, but it was on top of a hill and we were discouraged.
The guy who was driving the bike asked us what our plans were and he told us he had a taxi with a couple ready to leave the next morning. We have told him that we would think about it. The price is good but that of sharing with another couple for several days and without knowing what their interests does not convince us much.
We arrived at the hotel and the view from the room is spectacular. The window occupies the entire wall and we are served breakfast on the terrace. It has air conditioning, and is clean and we can take a shower after almost 3 days on the boat. The only downside is that the wifi only reaches the restaurant, not the rooms.
We have asked the reception staff for the price of a car with driver to tour the island. We tried to haggle but it was impossible. They are hard to peel. With so little difference and being able to have a car for us alone, with a stop where we wanted, we decided.
After a shower we walk down a staircase first and then down an embankment to the town that is no more than a long street with a souvenir shop, travel agencies or diving and a restaurant. We take a walk that ends soon and we return to the port for the farewell dinner on the ship.
There we exchanged opinions with those who have been our companions these days. We receive those who will make the trip back and we write down information to those who have traveled the island of Maumere to Labuan Bajo. In this time the ship has moved away from the port and has dropped anchor in the middle of the water.
At 23:00 we asked the boys to take us by boat to the port and return to the hotel to sleep soundly, in a clean bed with air conditioning.