Our encounter with the BIGGEST lizards on the planet

Our encounter with the BIGGEST lizards on the planet

Posted on Posted in Asia, Blog, Indonesia

The Freedom Travellers’ do Komodo National Park…here’s all about our encounter with the biggest lizards on the planet…

Q: What’s 3 meters long, weighs 150 kilos, has a long, flat head, a rounded snout, scaly skin and a huge, muscular tail?

A: Nope, not a dinosaur…a KOMODO DRAGON!

If you’ve ever seen Jurassic Park, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled onto Isla Nublar when stepping foot onto Komodo Island. The volcanic landscape of the archipelago that surrounds the islands of Komodo and Rinca is like something out of a movie set…and its inhabitants could well be mistaken for 3D CGI pre-historic creatures in the latest Hollywood blockbuster!

Which brings me to a few of the infamous Komodo dragon attacks, some of which took place on the very islands that we were about to visit. Their reputation certainly preceded them!

We’d done a little research to find out exactly how deadly these Komodo dragons were and discovered that Hollywood actress Sharon Stone’s ex husband, journalist Phil Bronstein, had a little mishap with a Komodo dragon at LA zoo. The poor guy lost the top of his foot to a hungry Komodo dragon after it mistakenly mistook his white shoes for his lunch of white rats! Luckily he survived the attack. Phew.

The same can’t be said for the victims of several fatal attacks over the years including local villagers on the islands of Komodo and Rinca along with a few tourists including a European man who disappeared during a guided tour…the only remains that were recovered were his camera and sunglasses. Eeeek!!!

The day before our visit to the island, the girls in our group has been asked if any of us were on our period…a bit of a personal question yes, but a necessary one as Komodo dragons can smell blood from up to 18 kilometers away! The guides on the island wanted to be prepared just in case we might be in extra danger…great. The joys of being female.

As you can imagine, we were wondering what on earth would greet us as our boat pulled up to Komodo Island. Feeling apprehensive but excited, we hopped off the boat and walked a short distance to where our guides for the day met us for a quick briefing. After which we headed off into the undergrowth to try and spot a dragon or twog.

Just as we set off, right on cue, the heavens opened! Soaked through, we continued on, trying to protect our camera gear from the rain so we could get the perfect shot of our dragon buddies when we came across them. Thankfully the downpour didn’t last long and before we knew it the sun was out and we were drying off nicely…or should I say steaming off! It warmed up real quick after the rain.

We completed the walking track without seeing a single Komodo dragon. Feeling a little disappointed, we headed back to the meeting place near the village kitchen where we’d been told there was a good chance of seeing a dragon or two. As the true opportunists they are, the smell of food lures them in a treat.

Lucky for us, someone must have been cooking up a storm that day because we spotted not one, not two but seven Komodo dragons chilling out in the shade of the wooden stilted houses near the waters edge of the island. Elaina and I got an awesome shot of us with a 19-year-old male dragon that was chilling out on his own away from the group. 19 may sound old, but adult Komodo dragons can live up to 50 years so he was just a youngster!

Our experience on Komodo Island was pretty epic…but our encounters with these creatures didn’t end there! The next day we were due to head to Rinca Island. The endangered population of between 3,000 and 5,000 Komodo dragons inhabit the islands of Komodo, Gila Motang, Rinca, and Flores so we were stoked to get another opportunity to see more of them in their natural habitat!

On Rinca Island, there have been a number of fatal attacks over the years. What makes Komodo dragons so deadly is their saliva, which contains over 50 strains of bacteria. A victim will usually die within 24 hours of a bite from blood poisoning, after which the dragon will devour them pretty much whole. Rinca Island is also home to deer, monkeys, saltwater crocs and even spitting cobras so the dragons have plenty to choose from…obvs we were hoping that tourist wasn’t on the menu!

This time we came across a bunch of sleepy Komodo dragons pretty much as soon as we stepped foot on the island. Once again, they were hanging near the kitchen; there was a recurring theme with these guys! Feeling a bit more confident with getting closer this time, our group of fellow travel bloggers whipped out their cameras and starting snapping away.

Suddenly, an unidentified object fell from the window of the stilted kitchen above the snoozing Komodo. Sleeping giants no more, the addition of food had them moving around super quick, tails swishing and hissing at each other, they were fighting over a ‘rat’ which, after further investigation of the camera footage, looked more like a rotten fish head. Hmm…make of that what you will!

After all the excitement, we set off on a short walk to see the island surroundings. On our way out of the village, we spotted a couple of baby Komodo, much smaller but still dangerous. The majority of babies don’t make it too long after hatching, falling victim to their carnivorous parents as a tasty snack! The ones that do survive, camp out in dead trees until they are around three years old and can fend for themselves.

Our aim was to hike up to a lookout and get a look at the awesome view from one of the highest points on the island. The heat was intense but we made it to the top and the view didn’t disappoint. The turquoise water of the surrounding islands looked super inviting!

We headed back to the boat after another amazing close encounter with these scary, scaly dudes. Seeing them in the wild was an experience we’ll never forget! Big thanks to Wonderful Indonesia and Kakaban Tours for making our visit to see the Komodo dragons unforgettable.

Been to one of the 17,000 + islands in Indonesia? Which one was your favourite? Comment below as we want to hear your top tips for Indonesia!

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Victoria
Born in the USA. Raised in England. Relocated to Australia 6 years ago. You could say that she’s a bit of a world citizen.
With a degree in Brand Promotion & Journalism, Victoria loves the written word and as such is our resident writer. One of her fave things to do anytime of day is to enjoy a good breakfast accompanied by an equally good coffee.

Vic loves a good road trip where she can rock out to good tunes (and some not so good, ahem, Taylor Swift fan alert!). She’s a demon on the squash court and loves to scuba dive. One of her dreams is to cage dive with great white sharks…way outside her comfort zone! She loves to travel and has lived in five countries. Her plan is to add a few more to the list.

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