Leaving the mirror smooth open sea, an appropriately mysterious-looking inlet took our boat heart-of-darkness-lite-style up to a mooring point just a short dinghy ride away from landfall on Rinca, the less famous second-home of Komodo’s dragons.
They weren’t coy – one was waiting at the end of the jetty, and another tracked us as we walked towards the Park HQ. Our quick visit took us on a pleasant 5km hike up into the hills, with the guide looping out in front of the group to spot for dragons. They were other-worldly-impressive close up, definitely in their element and worthy of their rep. The island itself looked completely different to Flores – scrubby and already arid, even though the rainy season was still winding down. Returning to Park HQ, our group passed a forlorn looking water buffalo cooling off in a stream, seemingly resigned to the fact that at some point in the next few weeks a random dragon would rip a hunk out of it, wait for a couple of days until it died a hideous death of blood bacterial infection, then tuck in for lunch. To be born a water buffalo on Komodo means you must have done some pretty bad things in a previous life…
My fellow passengers on Perama 114 were a fantastic bunch of assorted Eurotrash, with a pleasant but rather strange absence of Brits or Antipodeans (otherwise endemic across SE Asia). I settled in with a colourful cross-section of the EU: Louise, Iben, Victor and Jerry – four insanely young Danish travelers, complete with guitars, awesome singing talent and a “let’s do it” attitude. Our one Spaniard, Fatima, was on her way home after a few weeks teaching in a school on Sulawesi and, representing Germany, was Madeleine – loving every minute of her travels around the world and stunningly good company with a sly sense of humour.
Into the sunset
Rinca dragon guide