About Komodo Dragon
Komodo National Park is located between the islands of Sumbawa and
Flores in the Lesser Sunda Islands, at a distance of 200 nautical
miles to the east of Bali.
It has a total land area of 75,000 hectares and encompasses a
number of islands, the largest of which are Komodo (34,000
hectares), Rinca (20,000 hectares), Padar, Nusa Kode, Motang,
numerous smaller islands, and the Wae Wuul sanctuary on Flores.
A total of 112,500 hectares of the surrounding waters are also
under the jurisdiction of the park rangers.
In 1938 Padar and the south and west of Rinca were declared a
Wildlife Sanctuary, but it was only in 1965 that the island of
Komodo was formally included in the sanctuary. Komodo National
Park was established by government decree in 1980 followed by the
designation of Komodo National Park as a World Heritage Site in
Komodo National Park has the lowest annual rainfall in all of
Indonesia, with an abbreviated rainy season in the month of
January. For most of the year Komodo is dry and hot, parched by
arid winds from the Australian desert that blow from April through
October. Maximum temperatures reach 43 C, with minimums of 17 C in
Most of the Park is dry, rugged and hilly, a combination of
ancient volcanic eruptions and more recent tectonic uplift of
sedimentary seabeds. The irregular coastline is indented with
rocky headlands and sandy bays, many framed by soaring volcanic
Komodo island is 35km long and 15km wide, and is mountainous on a
north to south axis, with an average altitude of 500-600m. The
highest peak is Satalibo (735m) in the north. Most of the island
is lontar palm savannah with remnates of rainforest and bamboo
forest at higher elevations. On Rinca the land rises gradually
from the north coast to a plateau that ends at Mount Dora (667m)
in the south. The rugged south coast is very sheer as a result of
volcanic activity in the distant past, as evidenced by the crater
bay in which Nusa Kode nestles.
Deer and Wild Pig
Sunset in Komodo
Map of Komodo
The Park encompasses most of the recognized habitat of the largest
known lizard, the world famous Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis).
The Park is also home to Sunda deer (Cervus timorensis), wild
buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), wild boar ((Sus scrofa), the macaque
monkey (Macaca fascicularis), and wild horse (Equus qaballus).
All the large mammals have been introduced by man, but indigenous
frogs, snakes and lizards abound on the island.
The sole endemic species found on Komodo is the aptly named Komodo
rat. Over 150 species of birds have been identified in Komodo
National Park, many of which are migratory and more representative
of Australasian than Asiatic species.
Distinctive species include sulphur-crested cockatoos, imperial
pigeons, white-breasted sea eagles and maleos. The seas
surrounding the park teem with over 1000 species of fish and
Komodo is no longer a remote island accessible only by wealthy
tourists on private boats. Today there are over 20,000 visitors a
year that visit the park. The majority of visitors still arrive by
cruise ship, despite the fact the most popular, Spice Island
Cruises, ceased operations in 1999.
The gateway to Komodo is arguably the island of Bali. While most
visitors to Komodo National Park enter through the gateway cities
of Bima in eastern Sumbawa, or Labuanbajo in the west of Flores,
the departure point is actually Bali. Both Bima and Labuanbajo are
serviced by regularly scheduled flights that depart daily at
9:30am from Denpasar to Bima, with connecting flights to
Labuanbajo on Monday and Saturday.
The gateway cities are also connected to Bali by overland buses
and inter-island ferries. There are local coastal ships that
travel between Lombok and Labuanbajo.
These boats cater to tourists and take passengers on a four day
trip that includes a day and night in Komodo National Park (cost
$50 per person).
After arriving in Sumbawa, a ferry service from the port of Sape
in the east of the island to Labuanbajo picks up and drops off
passengers in Komodo in the July-August peak tourist season.
Otherwise local tour operators organize shared boat charters from
either Bima or Labuanbajo to Loh Liang and the smaller islands in
Komodo National Park.
Grand Komodo Tours operates a four day/three night package from
Bima to Komodo return for US$190, with two nights in a hotel, and
one on a live aboard boat.
The Komodo National Park administrative offices are located in
Labuanbajo in west Flores. An information center and travel agents
where transportation to and from the Park can be arranged are also
found in Labuanbajo.
The majority of tourists to the Park pass through the Loh Liang
ranger station nestled in the sweeping arc of Slawi Bay on Komodo
This is the largest facility in Komodo National Park with
bungalows and rooms, a restaurant and a dormatory for the park
rangers. The most popular tourist activity is a hike to the
Banugulung viewing area, a two-hour roundtrip level walk that
originates from Loh Liang.
Hikes to other areas of Komodo are also possible, and vary from
one to two days: Gunung Ara, Poreng, Loh Sebita, Gunung Sata libo,
On longer walks overnight accommodation can be arranged at ranger
posts at Loh Sebita and Loh Genggo.
For certified divers there is a compressor and diving equipment
available for hire at Loh Liang as well as masks and fins for
Handicrafts made in the nearby village of Komodo are for sale at
the arrival jetty.
The entrance ticket to Komodo National Park costs Rp 25,000 and is
valid for three days. It is easily renewable, so a prolonged stay
in the park is possible. There are two ranger stations which
provide spartan accommodation for tourists: Loh Liang on Komodo
and Loh Buaya on Rinca.
The charges are minimal and start at Rp 30,000 per room. Be
advised that everything is basic, including beds, communal toilets
and food availability.
Fortunately most travellers are not deterred by the limited
facilities, accepting this as a part of the Komodo experience.
Advance booking for accommodation are not accepted.
The hiking on Rinca is less strenuous than that on Komodo, and has
the added attraction of viewing the wild horses and monkeys which
are not found on Komodo. On Rinca wild buffalo are more common and
easily seen as well.
On the north side of the island, behind Rinca village, is a large
cave with a resident bat colony. Rangers at both Loh Liang and Loh
Buaya are readily available to lead walks, and are knowledgeable
about the local fauna and birdlife.