Cruising Indonesia – Flores and The Komodo Islands
Once we cleared customs in Maumere, Flores, we set sail for Labuan Bajo, as Kye and his girlfriend Kailey were flying in the following Friday to sail with us to Bali. Our first stop was Pulau Raja which is an island/volcano. We anchored, had a swim and enjoyed the cool breeze that accompanied a thunderstorm.
The next day we found a nice spot to anchor at a small island just off Flores. We took our beach shade and the BBQ ashore and spent the day snorkelling and reading on the beach.
The snorkelling was really nice. Lots of fish. We saw a huge bump headed parrotfish, a lion fish, barracuda, clownfish and several starfish I haven’t seen before. Unfortunately I was not able to take photos. We then move from this spot to anchor for the night in a more sheltered area.
The following day we enjoyed the antics of some very acrobatic dolphins. They entertained us by jumping clear of the water and one even did a barrel roll. We anchored for the night and we went for a snorkel and a walk before the afternoon storm sent us inside the boat for the rest of the day. The next day we anchored at Labuan Bajo.
Dwayne was eager to get ashore and check out the restaurants and bars, so we put the dinghy in and went to explore. We had a look around and a few drinks before finding the markets where we stocked up on our fruit and veg. We had dinner in a restaurant with a great view of Thorfinn in the harbour.
We were woken early the next morning, around 0330, by the muslim call to prayer which was so loud you would have thought the guy chanting was sitting on the front of our boat! After another day spent doing chores around the boat and relaxing at the bar, we left the next morning to visit the Komodo National Park. The Komodo National Park is an area of Indonesia which encompasses three large islands – Komodo, Rinca and Padar and 26 small Islands and the surrounding water of the Sape Straits. Ever since reading “Last Change to See” by Douglas Adams & Mark Carwardine I have wanted to visit the Komodo Islands and see the dragons. Yay another tick on my bucket list. Our first stop was Rinca, where Dwayne and I anchored the boat and went to shore to explore. We saw a crab-eating macaque (monkey), Timor Rusa Deer (the main prey of the Komodo dragons), a wild boar and komodo dragon tracks.
We followed the komodo dragon tracks but did not find the dragon! The water wasn’t clear and inviting where we anchored so we decided to move on to Komodo Island and we had anchored before the sun set. We had a lot of visitors to the boat selling taxi (boat) rides to the entrance of the Komodo Park for tours, fish, diesel etc. Dwayne organised to get 200 litres of fuel brought out to the boat in the morning and a lift ashore for us. The next day I made five coffees for our visitors as Dwayne filled our jerry cans, then we were dropped ashore for the Komodo tour. It cost us about AUD $27 (270000 rupiah) for the two of us. The guide took us for a walk through the bush and to the water hole. Unfortunately because it is currently the wet season the water hole wasn’t the booming social hangout that it usually is. In the dry season the deer and other animals go to the water hole for water. The dragons lurk camouflaged and ready to ponce when a tasty morsel of venison, in a lapse of caution, wanders too close. However, on this day we only saw one smallish dragon walking through the water hole area, and after taking some photos we walked on. We didn’t see any more dragons until the end of our tour, but we did see the orange-footed scrub fowl, deer, boar, snake and a beautiful yellow bird. Towards the end of our tour we saw four large (medium size we were told) dragons hanging out where the rangers and guides live. We were able to have a good look at these creatures and get some photos.
We were dropped back to our boat and then we took our dinghy across to the pink beach where we had a snorkel. It is a beautiful place to snorkel. It is only a small area of coral but we saw lots of large fish, heaps of colourful fish and stacks of anemone fish (aka clownfish). And Nemo was there!
The water was quite clear, I wouldn’t say crystal clear but pretty close. Unfortunately, as with every other place we have snorkelled (in Indonesia), we had to dodge the plastic bags and other rubbish. Dwayne was missing the bars and restaurants so we went back to Labuan Bajo to eagerly await the arrival of Kye and his girlfriend Kailey. The next few days were spent eating, drinking, walking and one day was spent poolside at a resort.
We found the nightly food markets and enjoyed a feast. I had a yummy roti pancake filled with veg, chicken and egg. Yum!
We picked Kye and Kailey up from the airport and threw them in the deep-end with a trip to the markets. It was raining so we were walking through mud in our thongs (i.e. jandals, flip-flops) and bartering for fruit and veg in the chaos! After a cocktail at the Osterai Del Mare, we took them back down to the markets to visit the food stalls for dinner.
The next morning we headed back to Komodo Island to visit the dragons again. This experience was much the same as the first one however we had a tour guide that was much more informative about the animals and plants on the island.
We followed the dragons with a visit to Komodo Village and had lunch at Harry’s house. Harry is a guy we met earlier in the week who had organised his wife to cook us an Indonesian lunch. Unfortunately Kailey wasn’t feeling well so she stayed on the boat resting while we had ayam goring (fried chicken), ikan baker(grilled fish), nasi goreng (fried rice), mie goreng (fried noodles) and egg plant for lunch at Harry’s house.
On the walk through the village we were able to watch people carving the komodo dragons they sell to the tourist. The wood they use is hibiscus which they have to get from Flores because they are not able to take any plant or animal from the national park area.
Continuing west towards Bali, we anchored at Gili Banta and snorkelled in lovely cool water (still 28c). Dwayne, Kye and I cleaned the bottom of the boat before going ashore for a walk and a swim. The anchorage was very rolly (absolutely dreadful) and eventually, after trying to sleep, we pulled up the anchor and sailed through the night. It was a long sail and eventually the next afternoon we were anchored a Pulau Satanda. Kye had pulled in a barracuda on the trolling line and was just a little excited!
Again we headed ashore for a swim and a walk to stretch our legs. This island is also a national park and we noticed on a map there was a lake in the middle of it so we set off to find it. There ended up being a resort and a clear path to the lake (and a $5 per person fee). The lake itself was salt water and warm but we still enjoyed a swim. The scenery was beautiful as it is surrounded by hills.
We left early the next morning (0430) and motored to a little island near Palau Seringgit (we couldn’t find its name on any map). It was tiny. There wasn’t a lot to see snorkelling but we enjoyed an afternoon on the beach reading, playing boules and a BBQ dinner of mackerel cutlets, eggplant and rice salad.
The following day, after a great sail, we reached Lombok.
We anchored near a little village on Lombok (across from Pulau Sulat) and went to shore for a look and a walk. Dwayne had some empty diesel (mostly empty) containers which he didn’t want and as we were greeted by the villagers he asked them if they could use them…. Nobody spoke English. It was a crazy 15 minutes with Dwayne trying to explain in English that he didn’t want the containers and they could have them if they had any use for them. I was trying to explain it in Indonesian and getting no further than Dwayne. However, when Dwayne picked up the containers and mimed throwing them away, the penny dropped and with lots of smiles and laughter we left them with the containers and went for a walk.
Armed only with the Bahasa Indonesian I had taught myself , we chatted with the villagers on the beach. It was a lot of fun.
We left our anchorage around midnight the next morning and arrived at Gili Air in time for breakfast. After a yummy omelette breakfast we walked around the island before snorkelling, eating and drinking cocktails for the rest of the day. We met a young couple from Melbourne and after a swim in their resort pool, we had dinner with them before retiring to our boat.The next day on our way to Bali we stopped at Lembongan for lunch and a swim before continuing onto the marina at Benoa.
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