As we say hello to the new year, it’s time to start thinking about the adventures we’ll be taking for 2020. And what could be more adventurous than seeing Komodo dragons in real life? Last month, our family decided to take a quick trip to Flores and Komodo islands in Indonesia and take a Komodo tour. It was a great way to cap off our year!
We partnered with a local company called Bintang Komodo Tours, who provided our family with a Komodo island tour. It was the ultimate once in a lifetime experience! We had a chance to learn all about Komodo dragons. And we even did some Komodo snorkeling to see the animals that live in the waters surrounding the island. This experience is perfect for families looking to go off the beaten path!
Komodo Island may not be your first thought when you think of family vacation. It’s certainly no Disney resort or holiday cruise. But for the animal lovers in your family, it’s absolutely worth doing a Komodo island trip.
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Basic logistics for your Komodo tour
The island of Komodo is located in the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago, in an area called East Nusa Tenggara. It’s east of the islands of Bali and Lombok, and south of the island of Sulawesi. Komodo Island is home to the world famous Komodo dragons, and is part of Komodo National Park.
There are no airports on the island, nor are there any hotels. The only access to Komodo island is by boat. If you’re planning a Komodo island trip, you can book a multi-day live aboard boat tour from the islands of Bali, Lombok, or Flores. These trips allow you to live and eat onboard a boat. (It may not necessarily be the best option if you’re prone to seasickness)
Alternatively, you can do what we did and take a one day Komodo island trip from the island of Flores. The jumping off point for a one day Komodo tour is the town of Labuan Bajo. There are many options for lodging in Labuan Bajo, as well as dining options. The town vibe is very laid back, and feels very much like a sleepy fishing village. You can check your Lonely Planet Indonesia guide book for more options of how to get to Komodo.
What you need to know for your Komodo island trip
Before going off and booking your Komodo island trip, there are a few things you should know. First, Komodo National Park comprises of three islands: Komodo, Rinca, and Padar. There are also several smaller islands that also make up the national park. Komodo dragons live on all of the islands, but are most concentrated on the island of Komodo.
Entrance fee to Komodo National Park is Rp. 150,000 (roughly $10-11 USD). But there are a slew of additional fees (tourism tax, ranger fee, hiking fee, and wildlife observation fee) that are tacked on as well. For our tour, we ended up paying Rp. 310,000 (roughly $21-22 USD) per person for access to the park. The Flores Komodo Expedition website has a breakdown of the fees for Komodo National Park.
High season for Komodo National Park runs from June to September. Low season, on the other hand, runs from November to March. If you’re planning a visit, make sure you wear sunscreen or a hat, as the sun can get very hot during your Komodo island trip. Be sure to drink plenty of water, and take as many breaks as you need when you’re hiking. Take along a Grayl water bottle, so you can filter your water on your hike.
Taking a Komodo tour with Bintang Komodo Tours
We love working with local companies when we do our outdoor excursions. For example, in Mexico we partnered with a local company when we did our turtle release. And we did it as well when we went swimming with wild dolphins. When we were looking for a company to partner with in Flores, I wanted to make sure it was a locally owned and operated one.
Bintang Komodo Tours is a company based on the island of Flores, started by a man named Doddy. The company officially began in March 2019. But prior to that, Doddy was freelancing as a guide, taking travelers from the UK, US, and other countries on tours throughout Flores and Komodo.
The company offers multi-day tours throughout the island of Flores. They also offer multi-day boat tours to Komodo National Park. These multi-day tours ($464 for a three day two night tour, and $670 for a four day three night tour) allows families to spend more time with the dragons. And you can also spend more time snorkeling in the areas surrounding the park. Komodo snorkeling is so fun because of all the coral that surround the islands.
If you’re pressed for time, the one day Komodo tour gives you the best bang for your buck. For $110, this one day tour gives you the highlights of Komodo National Park, from hiking to snorkeling.
What you’ll love about a Komodo island tour
Although we love adventures, we’re not a super adventurous family. Our kids are still young, so we tend to aim for one day excursions rather than multi-day treks. That’s why we loved the Komodo tour that we took. It was just the right amount of adventure for our family. And it gave us a chance to really experience Komodo!
Here are more reasons why I think your family will love taking a Komodo tour too.
Seeing dragons in real life
My kids are obsessed with animals. We love doing activities that revolve around seeing animals in their natural habitat. The ranger at Komodo National Park told me that there are around 1,700 Komodo dragons that live on Komodo, alone. And during our Komodo island tour, we saw five of them!
Komodo dragons are actually pretty fierce reptiles, and can run up to 20 km/hour. They are also predators, and have been known to attack people. So it’s important to keep a safe distance from the dragons. Fortunately, the rangers at the park are very well-trained, and know how to keep visitors safe from these animals.
Seeing other animals at Komodo National Park
Besides Komodo dragons, Komodo is home to other wildlife such as wild boar and deer. The surrounding waters is also teeming with marine life, including manta rays!
What is fascinating about the animals at Komodo National Park is that they are more similar to animals in Australia than to animals in Asia. This is due to a geographical boundary called the Wallace Line, running through Indonesia, between the islands of Bali and Lombok. Flora and fauna to the west of the line share similar characteristics to mainland Asia, while flora and fauna to the east of the line are more similar to Australia.
So much natural beauty on the Komodo tour
During our Komodo tour, we stopped at Padar Island and hiked up to the top of one of the hills. The view from the top was amazing. This part of Indonesia is much different from the lush green fields of Bali and Java. Instead, the landscape is volcanic and mountainous. Coral surround the islands, giving the water a deep blue hue.
Opportunities for Komodo snorkeling
For families looking to squeeze in some Komodo snorkeling as well, this tour also gives you plenty of opportunities. During our tour, we visited the Pink Beach (the sand really is pink!) and did some snorkeling just off the shore.
We also stopped at Manta Point and had a chance to swim with manta rays. What an experience that was! These giant creatures are so majestic to see in the water.
So many activities packed into one day
Our tour with Bintang Komodo Tours was packed! In one day, we hiked up Padar island, walked around Komodo, visited the Pink Beach, snorkeled at Taka Makasar and Manta Point, and relaxed at Kanawa island. It certainly was an action-packed day, but our kids enjoyed every minute of it. The highlights were certainly the manta rays and the Komodo dragons.
Meet other people
We also met people from all over the world on our tour! There was a couple from England, someone from Palestine, someone from Eastern Europe, a couple from Singapore, and families from Indonesia. It was a truly international mix of people. Since we’re with the group for the whole day, we had a chance to chat with people and hear their stories.
So much to enjoy on our Komodo tour!
We really had a fun time on our Komodo tour. The learning and adventure we experienced was perfect for our worldschooling family. And the experience in general truly made all those episodes of Wild Kratts come to life!
If you’re in the mood for adventure travel in 2020, consider taking a Komodo island tour with your family. This off the beaten path destination will impress you with its wild nature!
Have you done a Komodo island trip with your family? What was your experience like? Share it in the comments.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. We received a free tour from Bintang Komodo Tours in exchange for this blog post. However, the opinions expressed in this post are completely my own.
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