KomodoNational Park lies within an area known as the Wallacea—the domain of a fierce and rare species of reptile that looks like a dinosaur, but is called a Komodo dragon and, of course, is not even remotely related to either a dinosaur or a dragon. Instead, the Komodo dragon is the remnant of a once widespread ancient order of monitor lizards that today survives on only a handful of these islands. Approximately 1,100 of this protected species remain on Komodo Island. This giant reptile often measures up to 11 feet in length and can weigh more than 300 pounds. Like other monitor lizards, the head is tapered, the ear-openings are visible, and the neck is long and slender. The Komodo dragon is a carnivore, and preys on the deer and wild pigs that inhabit the island. They also sometimes eat their own young. It is a good swimmer and, for short distances, quite swift on land. The island of Komodo itself is about 60 squares miles in area and is volcanic in origin, with dramatic landscapes of 2,000-foot craggy mountains, deep arroyos, canyons, savannahs and monsoon rain forests. Fresh water is scarce on the island, collected during the monsoon season in a few isolated areas. Human habitation is therefore limited to only one settlement in Slawi Bay. Once ashore, you will be escorted on foot to Komodo National Park for a walking tour in search of the Komodo dragon. Walk about one mile accompanied by the rangers and an English-speaking guide to the fenced area near Banunggulung to look for the dragons. You’ll have a chance to take some photos. Guests with minimal walking ability can walk partway or just stay at the ranger station where Komodo dragons are occasionally seen. An open bar with soft drinks and mineral water is available to you at the ranger station and reception area. The monsoon forests of Komodo teem with activity of other wildlife, particularly in the morning before the sun is at its peak. Squawking cockatoos flock in often leafless trees, disturbing large green imperial pigeons, black blacknapped orioles, sun birds, flowerpeckers, and noisy friarbirds, while shiny black dragoons and enormous crows soar nearby.
Wildlife sightings are likely but are not guaranteed. The Komodo dragon is wild and is not artificially fed by the local authorities. The park rangers accompanying the tour will decide which route the trek will follow.