Enter The Dragon: A Backpacker’s Guide to Komodo Island

Komodo Island in Indonesia is home to the world’s only living dragons that roam the land in search of food and adventure. These exotic creatures are intriguing and somewhat intimidating but seeing them is certainly one for the bucket list!

It can sometimes seem that remote wildlife watching adventures are reserved for those with stacks of cash able to book through exclusive tour operators, but we’re here to tell you that, with a little planning and saving, you can have the trip of a lifetime on Komodo Island on a backpacker budget – #winning.

Read on to discover all you need to know to plan your backpacker adventure to Komodo Island…

Facts First

  • The whole island of Komodo is actually a national park.
  • Komodo dragons are the largest living species of lizard, growing up to 3m in length!
  • Komodo dragons are carnivores – so watch out as you’re on their prey list!

How To Get There

As Komodo Island is a national park you are not able to fly directly and therefore, getting there takes a little planning and preparation. The easiest way of getting to Komodo Island is to fly to Bandara Komodo Airport on Flores. Although you can’t fly directly to Bandara Komodo Airport from Europe or the US, you can easily fly via Denpasar in Bali or from Jakarta in Java.

Alternatively, rather than travelling from Flores you can board your Komodo cruise directly from Lombok which will take a multi-day route round some stunning islands and on to Komodo.

When To Visit

The ideal time to visit Komodo Island is during the dry season which generally runs from April to December. This is when the seas are likely to be at their calmest, making for a more comfortable journey.

Within this period there are different factors which may help make your decision of when to travel.

  • April to June is the greenest season which means that the landscapes on the island will be lush.
  • July and August are peak peak season.
  • September to November, are the best time of year for spotting marine life such as rays, whales and whale sharks!

What To Book

When deciding on which Komodo tour to book you’ll want to take into account budget, time and attractions covered to best weigh up your options. While it may seem the more destinations covered, the better, you don’t want to be on a cruise where you flit from one spot to the next without any time to truly enjoy them.

If you only have one day, a speedboat cruise gives you the best chance of seeing Komodo, Padar Island, Pink Beach and potentially Manta Point which would make for a great trip. You’ll want to find one that leaves early doors (around 5 or 6am) and comes back around 6pm so you have a full 12 hours of exploration.

If you have longer, you’ll want to consider either a two or three-day tour from Labuan Bajo or a four-day tour from Lombok. It’s good to find out what the journey times are and how much time you will spend at each destination. Ideally you want to find a tour that visits Komodo and Rinca Islands on the same day as otherwise you will have to pay the park entrance fees twice!

At the very least you’ll want to ensure your trip covers these top spots en route: Rinca island, Komodo National Park, Pink beach, Padar Island, Manta Point and Kanawa island.

Top Tips:

  • Prices should range from around 800,000 IDR for a 2d/1n trip, up to 1,900,000 IDR for the 4d/3n trip from Lombok – and be prepared to haggle!
  • Wait until you get to Senggigi or Labuan Bajo as prices booked online or at the airport are likely to be much higher.
  • Try to avoid visiting the national park on national holidays or Sundays where possible as the entrance fee will be more expensive.
  • Make sure the price includes snorkeling gear and flippers (and check they have them on board!).
  • Check the safety standards before departing – you’ll want to check for over-crowding and ensure they have sufficient life vests at the very least.

How To Prepare

Before you begin your cruise, you will want to book some cheap, comfortable accommodation in either Labuan Bajo on Flores or Senggigi in Lombok. You’re likely to be spending the next few nights on a boat so make the most of this still, stable bed while you can!

Make sure you pack lightweight clothing, plenty of sunscreen and a hat as you’ll be spending the majority of your days outdoors.

Ensure you have plenty of cash with you, as ATMs are few and far between and you want to make sure you have enough money to book on to your trip of a lifetime!

Bring your camera and enough battery and memory cards to last you the length of your trip. Wildlife is wildlife so you can never tell when and where you’re going to spot a Komodo dragon so you’ll want to be prepared at all times.

And finally, read up on some safety tips about visiting Komodo before boarding your cruise. Komodo dragons are wild, unpredictable carnivores so they can be dangerous, and sudden movements or threatening behaviour may make them attack.

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