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Location 19, 20, 21, 22, 23: Moyo Island, Satonda Island, Gili Laba, Pink Beach & Komodo, Indonesia

INDONESIA | Thursday, 9 June 2016 | Views [446]

Moyo Island, Satonda Island, Gili Laba, Pink Beach & Komodo, Indonesia:

 

After 4 nights on Lombok, a few friends and myself ended up booking spots on a 3 night/4 day cruise from Lombok to Flores (another large island in Indonesia). If you look up a map of Indonesia you will see it is the largest archipelagic country in the world.  The route from Lombok to Flores passes right through Komodo Island, so this was one of the larger selling points to me.  We were picked up the next morning at 7:30am, during a thunderstorm (hoping this was not foreshadowing to what the weather would be like on the cruise), and were driven 2 hours to the harbor we would depart from.  The cruise had 40 people registered and we were split into 2 different boats.  The organizers of the cruise put all of us in a bit of a holding pen, while they finished assessing the amount of food, beer, and other goods needed for the 4 days.  Finally after about 2.5 hours of waiting around we walked to the end of the pier to board our boats.  Let's just say the accommodation was nowhere in the vicinity of opulent, the boat was very basic in all forms of the word.  On the top of the boat there was a tiny deck that fit maybe 7 people and then attached to the deck was the sleeping quarters.  The sleeping level was 20 sleeping mats that were about 1 inch thick and laid side by side with no room in-between.  The sleeping mats were covered by a tarp to prevent the area from getting wet, which was critical as it rained 2 of the nights we were on the boat.  The remainder of the boat was a covered lower level where we did all of our eating (2 benches on the sides of the boat), one uncovered deck at the bow of the boat and a single bathroom.  I use the word bathroom loosely as this was a ceramic bowl, with a hole directly leading to the sea.  Once we scoped out the boat it became abundantly clear that the accommodations were truly not the selling point of the cruise.

Day 1 we went from a harbor on Lombok to the other side of the island in about 3 hours, where we were allowed to jump in and swim for about 30 minutes. Once we swam we were then served dinner shortly after and then the boat took to the sea for the next 8 hours.  The first night we were hit with a tremendous amount of rain, so all the air openings surrounding the sleeping area were completely sealed.  It got a bit hot, but overall it wasn't a terrible sleep.  

Day 2 I woke up with a few others on the boat around 6am to watch the sunrise.  It definitely made the crumby sleeping conditions worthwhile because we got to watch the sunrise right on the water, you couldn't really ask for a better view.  The crew served us each one pancake and then we cruised for another few hours before we reached our first real stop.  We arrived on Moyo Island and we were told to put our shoes and cameras in a bin and asked to swim to shore.  Once we reached shore the crew rowed our belongings over to us and we then trekked through the forest to the waterfall we would climb.  Looking at it definitely did not make me feel so comfortable, it was a series of slippery wet edges with water rushing over them and it wasn't particularly flat, but actually quite steep.  Once we made it to the top there were these freshwater pools that you could rope swing into, jump from high branches or just swim around.  The group spent about 45 minutes up there and then made the climb down to begin the walk back.  Once everyone had swam back to the boat we cruised for several more hours to Satonda Beach where we could snorkel, or go to the shore for a walk to the saltwater lake.  I did both and the snorkeling was definitely the better of the two.  I saw an octopus and lots of beautiful fish, overall it was a nice spot.  Once we boarded the boat it was the start of the 16 hour non-stop cruise to our next stop. The second evening had very choppy waters and dinner was more a series of food flying off forks, plates, etc.  Luckily only a few people got seasick, but overall we survived. 

Day 3 started similar to the previous morning with an early wake up call to watch the sunrise and then a 2 hour cruise to the first stop.  We pulled the boat up to Gili Laba island, which had a viewpoint we had to climb to.  The climb was about 25 minutes to the first viewpoint and then you could trek up to a few others.  It ended up being a really beautiful spot because it had awesome views 360 degrees all the way around.  Once everyone had safely made it down the mountain and back on the boat we cruised for another 1.5 hrs before we finally made it to the absolute highlight, Manta Point.  We were told that Manta Point typically has 5-10 manta rays schooling and that if we located some we were going to be able to jump in the water with them, so I was super excited.  What we ended up encountering still has my jaw dropping.  We reached Manta Point and within about 2 minutes we saw about 30 manta rays schooling near the surface, from the boat all you could see were these giant black wings treading through the water.  The guide on the boat yelled for us to jump in, but everyone was hesitant because the sheer size and number of them was overwhelming.  Once he yelled for the second time I jumped right in with my GoPro and mask, I took one look down after the bubbles dissipated and I saw another 20 just circling the bottom.  It was unbelievable to watch these giant rays just effortlessly swim through the water and the size of them made me feel small (very hard to do).  Finally after about a minute or so the rest of the boat started jumping in and we all got to experience it together, it was honestly magical.  Once the school of mantas passed we all swam back to the boat and we continued on, only to find another group of them schooling.  We repeated this same exercise 2 more times and after getting more comfortable I was able to get close enough to graze the wing of the one rays, the 50 minute run-in with the rays made the entire trip worth it.  The last part of the day we stopped at Pink beach where the sand granules are actually littered with small pink rocks that at sunset reflect the beach to look pink.  We snorkeled there for a bit and had a run-in with a few turtles, then cruised to a harbor outside of Komodo Island for the night.  We spent the night drinking beers and hanging out, eventually convincing our boat captain to link our boat with the other group.  After a few hours of hanging out both boats disconnected and we called it a night.

Day 4 was the final day and it was also the day where we would finally encounter the infamous Komodo dragons.  We woke up and docked at Komodo National Park, which is truly a real-life Jurassic Park, everything from the entrance to the grounds themselves makes you feel like you are in the movie.  Our boat of 20 got a briefing on what we should expect to see and what we should do in case one of the lizards gets aggressive.  The island has just under 3000 dragons and they are not confined to any specific spaces, so it is possible to run into them at any point.  We had 5 guides with us and they carried large wooden staffs to use in the chance one of the dragons were to get too close (not really sure how effective it would be, but I guess it brought some form of comfort to the group).  We had walked for close to 30 minutes when we heard a guide scream "big dragon, big dragon!".  As we reached the top of a hill there was a large male dragon resting in the shade, it didn't move and it didn't react while the group took photos, but I have to say that these things are truly massive.  I was in the front right behind the first guide and the coloring of these lizards makes it very difficult to spot, we were only about 10 feet away before I saw it and the expletives flew out of my mouth.  I was not anticipating them to be as large as they were and definitely didn't expect to be that close.  Once we moved on we didn't end up seeing anymore till the very end of the trek.  We saw an additional 3 posted up near the kitchen where they make food for the park visitors.  Once we boarded the boat we made out way to Rinca Island, which is the only other place in the whole world that hosts wild Komodo dragons.  We had a similar experience and a similar walk through the park, but we ended up seeing close to 10 dragons at the end.  We were told that the dragons on Rinca Island were far more aggressive, but are smaller.  The males on Rinca reach the size of the females on Komodo, but the males on Komodo are typically 1.5-2x larger than the ones on Rinca (they all looked massive).  Once we left Rinca island we got onto the boat one last time before we finally reached the end destination- Flores.  When the boat finally reached the harbor I was elated to finally get on solid ground and grab a real shower.  A bunch of us found accommodation and then went for Italian.  The food on the boat was good, but it was nice to sit in a real chair, and have a stationary meal.  Overall the trip was awesome and I got to meet a very fun group of people.

 

Neill

 

See photos here.

 

Tags: beaches, komodo, sailing, snorkeling, sunrises, sunsets, trekking

 

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