The world’s largest lizard, the legendary Komodo dragon, survives on 5 islands in eastern Indonesia – the most accessible of them, Komodo itself and nearby Rinca. Both are starkly beautiful, with parched, undulating hills of bleached grass and spindly lontar palms falling to turquoise bays and pale, pink-sand beaches. Against this serene backdrop, the leathery reptiles, which weigh up to 100kg and grow to 3 metres in length, stalk their prey, which they kill by inflicting wounds that become infected by bacteria contained in their saliva.
In order to ensure your safety while observing the dragons, expert guides and rangers will accompany you throughout your safari. While most day trips to Komodo and Rinca leave from the small harbour town of Labuan Bajo, on the neighbouring island of Flores, it is also possible to spend a night on a private boat, rather than returning to shore. Either way, expect stops at one or two of the uninhabited islands that fleck the ocean around Komodo to snorkel and trek. The finest panorama in the region is to be had from the summit of Komodo’s highest hill, Gunung Ara; on the way, your guide will point out cockatoos and megapodes, a rare bird resembling a turkey.
Please note: Due to ongoing conservation efforts to protect the Komodo Dragons, Komodo Island will be closed to visitors in 2020. Rinca Island will remain open.