We awoke to a beautiful day with a mirror calm surface to the sea and full sun, with a few perfect cotton wool clouds dotting the blue sky. Our ambition today was to see the fabled Komodo dragon which is carnivorous and can reach 12 feet in length. They have a range of nasty bacteria in their mouths and necrotising venom, the combination of which can kill large prey such as goats and deer. We had several options to choose from to explore the island which included bird watching and walks of varying lengths.
The trails took us through the jungle vegetation interspersed with open areas which were dominated by grasses. The long walk took us to a hut and vantage point overlooking a dried up river bed where the rangers used to feed chickens to the Komodo dragons. Since the island became a World Heritage Site the feeding has been prohibited and the dragons have to fend for themselves. The long walk also took us up a small hill which had a magnificent view over the surrounding landscape. The island has been de-forested so the undulating hills are rather bare apart from the occasional tree or small clumps of trees. Nevertheless, the views were breathtaking and the island looked so green and fertile. The long walkers and the birding group converged on this highpoint, both groups looking for different things, but both groups found them here.
While no Komodo dragons were spotted on the walks; fortunately, once we arrived back at the ranger station and café area there were several sprawled under the buildings or under the trees. Because these are reptiles, they are cold blooded and need the warmth of the sun or a hot ambient air temperature to warm their bodies so that they become mobile. It was still early in the morning so they were just lying more or less motionless. They were alert though and it was a bit unnerving to see one move its head and look at you, wondering if we were on the menu for the day. Those who departed last from the café area were lucky to see one walk across the open area, its bifurcated tongue darting in and out of its mouth sampling the air for something to eat. Although these animals look clumsy and sluggish, this one was covering ground amazingly quickly and so effortlessly.
After lunch on board while the ship repositioned, we landed on Pink Beach, a beautiful white sand beach to either walk, sit, or snorkel in the shallow bay. The reef here is incredibly rich with a huge variety of fish species, including angelfish, moorish idols, bird-nose wrasse, unicornfish, triggerfish, bannerfish, anemonefish, and a variety of butterflyfish. The highlight, on this hot day, was an ice cream social on the beach. The catering team had taken everything ashore and we could all enjoy our own special treat in this wonderful location. The best ice cream ever!