With a splash our guide hit the water. The dragons heads turned simultaneously and with a unified hiss they started towards us. Their ungainly doggy paddle was both amusing and unnerving at the same time. We were not expecting them to get this close. Our guide had assured us it would be safe to enter the water because Komodo dragons cannot swim. Apparently he was wrong! He leapt straight back into the boat with a somewhat sheepish look on his face.
Komodo Dragons Can Swim!
Our dive liveaboard was moored up just a short distance from the beach on Rinca. From the boat, we caught our first glimpses of the Komodo dragons as they wandered around on the sand. Keen to get a closer look, we hopped into the speedboat and whizzed over. Some ran into the sea as they saw our boat approaching and they seemed even more interested when our guide decided to join them in the water. We watched the dragons as they sunbathed and patrolled along the beach. Their forked tongues flicked out as they tasted the air and there was a constant stream of drool dripping from their jaws.
Do Tourists Feed The Komodo Dragons On Rinca?
The four Komodo dragons we saw on Rinca seemed very interested in our arrival. We heard that visiting boats used to bring chickens and throw them over to the dragons. Our guide insisted that this no longer happened. However, unless Komodo dragons have a really good memory, we suspect someone was still feeding them. It wasn't our boat though.
Why Visit Komodo National Park?
Seeing Komodo dragons up close is really special. They're the largest lizard in existence and well known for their deadly bite. The only place Komodo dragons survive in the wild is around Komodo National Park. Sadly, with only about 3,000 dragons left, they are now rated as a vulnerable species. Those living in Komodo National Park are protected so by visiting the park you will be contributing financially to ensure the preservation of these unique animals.
How To Get To Komodo National Park
Getting to the back of beyond is not as difficult as you would think.
1. Fly to Bali.
2. Take a domestic flight to Labuan Bajo. Check out Garuda Indonesia for flight options.
3. Most accommodations in and around Labuan Bajo can organise day trips to visit Komodo National Park. This will often include a guided walk to look for dragons.