Hiking with Komodo Dragons

…continued from last post.

The past 2 1/2 days of sailing the blue waters of the Indian Ocean let our eyes feast on nature’s finest, vibrant islands and sea life. Now we were heading to Komodo Island to hike around and say hello to Komodo Dragons, hopefully at a distance.

I know what you’re going to say:

“Now hold on! You are NOT going to hike with your two adorable children to find the dangerous Komodo dragon in the wild, are you?” 

And I would respond

“Yes, we are that kind of crazy.”

Let’s just say people expressed their concern, rightly so. Take a look: (click on the photo to see full size…it’s much more impressive that way.)DSC04185They look harmless, right?

Well, they’re not and here are a few facts.

Facts about Komodo dragons

  • Komodo dragons are some of the fiercest animals on earth. They have no known predators, are cannibalistic, and a bite or lick will send you to the hospital.
  • Komodo dragons eat everything, including the bones of deer, boar and water buffalo.They will attack humans to eat as well.
  • They eat by tearing large chunks and swallowing them whole.
  • Known as the Komodo monitor lizard, it is the largest living species of lizard, growing to a maximum length of 3 metres (10 ft) and weigh up to 70 kg (150 lbs).
  • They are only found on the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Padar and Gili Motang.
  • Their poop is white because it contains so much calcium from the bones of the animals they eat.
Komodo Dragon Poop.

Komodo Dragon Poop.

  • If their bite doesn’t kill you, the bacterial infection will. Komodos have virulent strains of bacteria in their mouth that replicate nine times faster than normal bacteria.
  • If they don’t take down their prey via a bite, they wait, then trek back to the spot a few days later to find the prey dead. Dinner is served!

See? It’s perfectly fine to hike openly on an island full of Komodo dragons with your toddlers. Nooooo problem.

Komodo Island

To hike Komodo Island, a ranger has to come with you for your protection. We had four rangers accompany us for our trek. The rangers carry forked sticks that, if by chance we were to be attacked by a Komodo, they could get under it’s neck with it.  This was our protection:

Protection from Komodo dragons

Protection from Komodo dragons

It’s low tech, but hey..should we be worried? Especially considering that within the past few months two rangers were attacked by the dragons.

We hiked for two hours around Komodo island, seeing several dragons hanging around the ranger stations and some watering holes.

G & Miss I, view Komodo dragons from a distance.

G & Miss I, view Komodo dragons from a distance.

Most of the Komodo dragons on this island seemed quite lazy and rested. That is until…Komodo Dragon on Komodo Island

…a boar walked by. That got their attention and we thought we were going to see quite a show.Komodo walking after a wild boar

Nothing happened, so we took some pictures of us with the Komodos while our kids started to walk away and the rangers quickly hinted that we need to get them because a Komodo is, um, right there!Me & the King

The hike on Komodo island was easy, but I would recommend hiking in proper shoes, not flip flops.

Hiking with Komodo Dragons on Rinca

If Komodo Island was like a walk in the park, Rinca was a totally different story.

Rinca (pronounced “Reen-CHA”) has a distinctly alarming vibe to it. The dragons on this island are more aggressive. Despite being a smaller island than Komodo, the population of Komodo dragons on Rinca is the same. The monitor lizards compete for food more aggressively and are more active.

There we were, standing at the start of our hike, our group fairly silent as we felt the anxiety of the impending 2 hours of hiking on Komodo dragon terrain. The rangers were concerned that our children would make too much noise and asked if one of us would stay behind with them while the other got to hike. We felt disappointed,  and ultimately said that they shouldn’t worry about our children and we’d take perfect care of them (which we did by carrying them most of the way). There was no way we were going to miss out on this. Now G and Miss I have bragging rights.

I can see the conversation with their adventurous backpacker friends in the future.

It goes something like this:

Friends: “Hey, let’s do something really epic and sail to isolated Indonesian islands to hike in search of the deadliest lizard on the planet! In the wild!”

G and Miss I: “Nah, I did that when I was like 2 years old.”

[awkward silence]

Hiking on Rinca Island

Our hike started in the flatland forest of the island. It was a walk in the park, but we were constantly looking into the woods in search of Komodos. We didn’t see any in the forest, but we did run across a humongous water buffalo that was peacefully taking a drink from the river as it’s partner watched from the side. A lucky siting for us!Water Buffalo and Komodo IslandTo think that a Komodo dragon can take this huge beast down in one bite and eat it completely except for the horns on it’s head increased our anxiety level a bit. As I stood along the river trying to capture images, I wondered if it was a good idea to wear a bright orange shirt for this hike.

After no luck spotting the lizards in the forest, we started to climb a hill in the sun-drenched grassy plains. It was hot, the vista was beautiful, and our level of adventure rose to a new degree when we looked down the hill to see the rest of our group being following by a Komodo. We really were hiking with Komodo dragons!Hiking with Komodo DragonsWe quickly got the attention of our group hiking below, they turned around, shocked to see a Komodo following them, and some even started running up the hill. The Komodo was hiking at a nice pace, and then quickly ducked back into the grass. Which only means that he was there when we passed him!

Now this was an experience!

We ended our hike, exhausted and fully satisfied with our adventure of truly hiking with Komodo dragons.

Komodo with mouth open
And I’ll end this post with my favorite Komodo Dragon Photo. (click the photo to really see the details).

My favorite Komodo dragon Photo

Amazing creatures!

What do you think? Interested in Hiking with Komodo Dragons in the wild?

Leave a comment below.

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7 Responses to “Hiking with Komodo Dragons”

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