Finding our way around our new home for the next four days, we check out the top deck, sun deck and on passing by the kitchen and a quick hello to some of the most important people onboard – the captain and the chef, we carry on down the corridor to our twin cabin. It’s neat with a little pop roof for fresh air, air con for cold air and a fan to move it all around, two little bunks with fresh linen and towels, a little sideboard and two bedside lamps – perfect, we’re home! As we all know, homes have rules to keep us safe, so after a boat and safety briefing we get the run down for the day – we’re off to see some komodos!
Komodo is the Bahsa word for ‘dragon’ and one of the islands, aside from Komdo island, that they can be found in the National Park is Rinca. We’ve been here before and being that it is now the middle of the day, we know better than to do the trail walk again. We’re sticking it out in the shade by the rangers’ hut, because this is where the dragons like to hang out in abundance and this time we’ve managed to keep a guide for ourselves.
Now, these dragons look like lazy creatures and perhaps they’ve been spoilt too much by the tourism; more specifically the kitchen they frequent so often whilst lazing in the sun. But their reputation proceeds them as being huge, dribbling, ambush predators who bite and then stalk their prey until the venom and bacteria slowly kills them – which is why you will see buffalo in the park too. Yet, on looking at them laying there, hardly bothering to blink an eye, one can be tempted into believing that these beasts have been lured into a slumber by the treats and tappings of the tour guides’ sticks.
Our guide watches us, my phone is on video mode and Aaron has his camera on its tripod at the ready. Not much is going on, occasionally a head moves ever so slightly, but even the small bird that dots around them picking up crumbs is aware that these old dragons don’t move for less than a free treat these days.
Our tour guide looks towards us, heads to the office door outside which these komodos are laying, summons someone and seconds later something slaps into the dirt in front of us and everything is moving. Big loose, leathery legs and swollen stomachs lead long slow tails as they launch themselves, surprisingly swiftly, but heavily towards this morsel -they know it’s good whatever it is.
Now, arguably a little startled, I reposition myself swiftly behind Aaron, who’s keeping his cool and filming the best bits of the active dragons. We know this isn’t quite the National Geographic footage we all desire, but it sure beats the hell out of spotting the odd komodo lazing in the dirt trying to warm up, whilst walking in the blazing sun through the park for forty minutes, so, for this type of experience we’ll take chilling out by the kitchen with the dragons any day.
Back on the boat we have a couple of dives to get under our belt before the day is done. Two dips into Siaba Besar it is. Also known as turtle town, this is a dive site that never fails to produce at least one turtle. Usually it offers us a range of green sea turtles being cleaned, sleeping in the coral and two of which are fondly called grandma and grandpa; because they are huge and undoubtedly the eldest of the bunch that frequents the area.
Diving Siaba in the later hour of the day shows us a totally new side to a dive site we’ve done so many times before. Usually buzzing with divers and go pros going wild for the turtles, yet now it seems sedate and relaxed, the light is warm and soft and the fish seem unphased by our presence, relaxed in the late afternoon light. The best bit? Not one other dive group in sight.
Find out more about what the Jaya liveaboard is like here and watch this space for the next post where the main events from our three days of diving in Komodo National Park are revealed in beautiful images and witty comment by yours truly,
Whilst onboard the Jaya, we were commissioned to created a promotional video for the Scuba Republic, Jaya liveaboard experience, so you can enjoy the best bits right now if you fancy:
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