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The Komodo National Park 90 miles 3 days
Top Indonesia sea voyages are meant as suggestions for the interesting courses that ships may follow through the archipelago. The routes are for planning purposes only and may of course be amended according to your specific interests and preferences.
Located some 500 kilometers east of Bali, the Komodo National Park is an archipelago of about eighty islands between Flores and Sumbawa, in the general area known as the Lesser Sunda Islands. Born out of volcanic activity as well as the tectonic uplifting of coral rocks, the islands offer spectacular sights of rugged mountains, peninsulas and promontories, quiet coves fringed by white sand beaches, narrow channels with swift currents, and a vegetation of open grassland, scrubs and monsoon forest. Most islands are uninhabited, except for just four villages of predominantly Bajo people, ‘the sea gypsies’ whose livelihood depends entirely on the sea. The Komodo National Park was established in 1980 to conserve the unique Komodo dragon, the world's largest lizard which can reach 3 meters long and weigh 90 kilogram. The fauna also includes deer, buffaloes, boars, monkeys, wild horses, sea eagles, sulfur crested cockatoos, flying foxes. At the same time the Park is famous for its magnificent underwater gardens. The plankton-rich seas around Komodo support amazing reefs and a range of large marine life, including whales and dolphins. (What few people realize is that ninety percent of reef life lives in the top 4 meters of water, so snorkelers will not miss out on anything by not donning scuba gear.)
It is easily possible to spend a couple of weeks around these islands and keep discovering new anchorages every day. The following three day cruise represents a selection of the spots that should not be missed.
Sailing from Labuanbajo on the western tip of Flores at approximately one hour from the mainland you already reach the Island of Kelor. Drop the anchor and go ashore for the first discovery of a paradisiacal beach and an excellent location for snorkeling. From there proceed to the island of Mesa, a settlements of Baju ‘Sea Gypsies’ whose livelihood depends entirely on the sea. Formerly the Baju were fully nomadic, living on their boats, but nowadays they also live in houses on stilts over the water. Mesa is a great place for photography and you will find that the children of this village are irresistible subjects.
After Mesa go south further into the archipelago. It is important to understand that local situations may vary considerably between spring tides and neap tides. At certain times the currents are extremely strong. Of course much depends on the winds as well so your captain may always decide to adapt his course in order to best take advantage of the sea and weather conditions. In any case at the end of the day you reach the North Coast of Rinca and find an anchorage in Loh Buaya Bay. Have your shipboard dinner under the stars and spend the night at anchor.
On the second day you should go ashore shortly after sunrise and start a trek through the Park in the company of one of the experienced rangers. Other than some of the infamous dragons you are likely to encounter buffaloes, deer and horses. From the top of the Rinca hills, the scenery is downright spectacular. When the heat of the day hits the island, return to the ship and sail toward Komodo. After you have passed Padar Island we suggest you first stop at the famous Pink Beach, one of the most spectacular postcard-picture beach locations in the Park and spend the entire afternoon for some exceptional snorkeling. At the end of the day we suggest you move to Loh Liang Bay for another night at anchor.
Start the third day, again early in the morning, by going ashore on the island that has given the dragon as well as the National Park its name. Accompanied by another one of the Park rangers, go trekking on this very special island The ranger shows you the dens and nests of the dragons and learn a lot more about this mysterious creature.
After the trek we sail out of Loh Liang Bay and once we have rounded the Southwestern Cape of Komodo we go back on a Northeasterly course towards the Flores mainland. Depending on the wind and current we may make a detour for stops at Karang Makassar or Pulau Bugis, but in any case you will find another good spot for a last dip in the water and a last hour of beachcombing before reaching the Labuan (harbour) again. Top Indonesia will assist you with all further travel arrangements.