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Komodo & Rinca national park

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260 miles from Kupang

KOMODO AND RINCA. 8°34.480S 119°30.265E

This is the home of the legendary Komodo Dragons. It would be a shame to pass by here and miss a chance to experience these prehistoric reptiles.

The islands of the Komodo Group are in the middle of the high-current channels between Flores and Sumbawa. Komodo’s south coast is deeply indented with spectacular steep-sided bays. The National Park Head Quarters (Loh Liang) is tucked away in the calm sheltered Sora Lia Bay mid island on the southeast coast. Anchor near the moorings off the two jetties in 10-16 metres on a muddy bottom in front of the Ranger facility.

Onshore, report to the ranger station to purchase your mandatory national park entrance permits. Guides are also mandatory and charges are levied for each camera in your group. The rule of thumb is: the longer you hike, the more dragons you’ll find, so book the longest you think you can handle because, even if it becomes uncomfortable, it’s really worth it.

There are many alternative bays, some with moorings (anchoring is mostly prohibited and policed) in the area where the fishing, snorkelling and diving are all beyond superb. At the southeast point of Sora Lia Bay you’ll find the incredible Pink Beach, named because the shoreline consists of crushed red coral branches deposited by an updraft current in the deep channel area nearby.

Across at Rinca Island is the very protected creek anchorage of Loh Buaya. It’s right up the end of a narrow yet safe-depth, 250-metre wide mangrove-lined always-glass-calm waterway. On approaching the entrance, favour port side to keep well clear of the drying bank off the narrowing mouth. Motor the half mile south to 8°39.227S, 119°42.881E and anchor directly in front of the ranger station jetty in 10 metres on sand and mud.

This Park Ranger office is where Rinca-dragon-viewing hikes start and finish, always with guides and best booked in advance. Don’t come alongside the pier – it’s mostly busy with local boats and they will take offence. Best to anchor as close as you’re comfortable with and take your dinghy, leaving it tied away from the main traffic areas.

You have a far better chance of seeing active dragons even on shorter hikes here. Note that they are more active early in the morning. As the temperature and light increase they tend to lie about listlessly for the rest of the day. To experience them when they are more animated, start your hike before first light and again, choose the longer duration options. There is something other-worldly about this entire island group.

Komodo Dragon - Photo by Paul Johnson
Komodo Dragon – Photo by Paul Johnson
Pink Beach, Komodo - Photo by maxontravel/Shutterstock.com
Pink Beach, Komodo – Photo by maxontravel/Shutterstock.com
Southeast Asia Pilot contributor, Paul Johnson’s SY Asia in Komodo National Park - Photo by Paul Johnson
Southeast Asia Pilot contributor, Paul Johnson’s SY Asia in Komodo National Park – Photo by Paul Johnson

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While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this book is accurate, the charts of anchorages are based on personal experience and satellite imagery and are intended as a guide only. They should not be used for navigation. Please refer to Official Hydrographic Charts of the respective countries.

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