Discovering Dragons in Labuan Bajo
Labuan Bajo, is an area of Flores, Indonesia.
It’s the main entry point to explore the Komodo islands and get up close to the dragons.
The town is not very touristy with only a few non local restaurants and dive shops.
This was taken just outside our accommodation (this is not where we stayed).
Arriving in Labuan Bajo
We took a 45 minute flight from Ende to Labuan Bajo with Garuda Indonesia.
There are boat options from Bali but they take days and the flight really isn’t that expensive.
The airport is small, but more substantial than Ende. When you depart the airport there are numerous taxi drivers waiting to take you to your accommodation.
Although it was only a mile or so walk to our accommodation, we decided to take a cab given how hot it was and the fact we had our backpacks. It was only 50,000 rupiah (£3).
Again as in Ende, the accommodation choice wasn’t massive. But we found a cheap but pleasant AirB&B called Pavilla.
It was about 2 miles from the harbour.
The hostess was really friendly and very helpful, as were the other staff. The rooms were clean and a reasonable size.
On our way to the airport in Ende, we had met a couple who had just been to Labuan Bajo and they had recommended Le Pirate for food, somewhere to stay and a Komodo tour.
I had been to a Le Pirate resort in Gili T so knew what to expect.
We had pre booked a tour to the Komodo islands to see the dragons with snorkelling and the pink beach, but it was really expensive. So we were keen to see what Le Pirate had to offer.
We used our maps to plan a route to Le Pirate from our accommodation, but it turned out some of the paths were more say, bushes and we ended up doing a bit of a nature trail to get there (that was the last time we walked)!
We also got a lot of stares from the local people on our walk, we were certainly the anomalies here. I don’t think many young white western woman come here, especially not without men and this seemed to attract a lot of attention.
When we finally made it there, we headed up to the rooftop bar area where there is a pool and comfy seats over looking the harbour.
Once we had eaten we enquired about the tour options and learnt that they offered a tour a lot cheaper than the one we had pre booked.
It would take us to Rinca island, snorkelling and to a mini island in the middle of the ocean for 850,000 rupiah £50.
Though this didn’t include Komodo island and pink beach as the other tour did it was a £75 saving. Our research had told us that we were more likely to see dragons on Rinca than Komodo island. So we changed our plans and went with Le Pirate.
The tour with Le Pirate
We got picked up at 7:15am by a driver from Le Pirate and met our guide for the day.
At the harbour we boarded a small transit boat which took us to a rather pretty little turquoise and white boat.
It turned out Dom and I had the boat to ourselves and we were able to go on the sunbathing deck for the 2 hour journey to Rinca island.
Our guide was super friendly and helpful, he explained the plan for the day and a bit about life in Flores.
When you arrive you have to pay 300,000 rupiah or £17 to enter. This includes the park fees, tax and a ranger.
There are various length walking options but given that we were on the island for the mid day heat our ranger said we could only do the medium trek.
Turns out this was plenty long enough the heat was insane. Plus we actually saw more dragons before starting the walk.
We were fortunate to see around ten dragons and get up close to them (to close for my linking actually).
They can run 20km an hour.
If their bite doesn’t kill you the bacteria in the Salvia will. They bite their prey such as wilderbeast and then follow them while they slowly become infected and die.
The dragons are cannibals and eat each other.
They even eat their own babies, the baby dragons actually have to hide up trees for the first 2 years of their life through fear of being eaten by older dragons.
There sense of smell is so good they can smell blood from miles away.
As you can see from the pictures I am looking rather nervous. Our ranger had made a real point of them being able to smell blood, and underneath my dressing on my leg was my bloody coral cut so I was feeling very on edge. There is also a dragon to the side of me about 5ft away that you can’t see in the picture.
Our guide had told us how we were going to a snorkelling spot that was not on the big tour companies list as it was not busy and there was more to see.
He was right, it was just us there and there was so much to see. The reef was better than I had experienced in the Perhentian islands and Gili T.
There were hundred of fish, star fish, clown fish, puffer fish and many more. We even saw manta rays passing the coral.
We stopped at a mini island in the middle of the Indonesian ocean. There was nothing but sand and washed up coral on the island and no land for miles.
When researching the Komodo dragons and the various tours, we found that lots of places offer 3 night 4 day trips. Were you have to sleep on boats and be at sea for long periods of time. The safety reviews were generally poor and lots of people had said it wasn’t worth it.
I am really not sure why people decide to do those tours when you can get so much from a day trip, who knows.
Labuan Bajo is the ideal starting point for discovering the dragons. But the town doesn’t have much else to offer in terms of things to do.
There are lots of choices of places to eat, though the food hygiene and quality was questionable.
Le Pirate is an ideal place to stay, eat and do the tour with. Though accommodation and food was definitely not the cheapest on offer.
Pavilla was clean, spacious and the staff were lovely.
Dragons are huge, cannibal killing machines and though I am glad I saw them, would happily live my life never seeing them again.
The snorkelling was amazing and the mini island cool visit.