By Lisa on Mar 05, 2016 with Comments 2
In Labuan Bajo we traipsed around the travel agencies in the blistering heat. Everywhere was too expensive and no one wanted to barter, yet they all wanted to fill the last few spaces on their excursion boats.
We didn’t want to share our tour to Rinca and Komodo Islands with ten other people and sleep on the deck listening to others’ snores or share one toilet. We wanted our own boat to take us to Rinca and Komodo Islands.
We had forgotten that it was Sunday, as it’s quite easy to do when you’re on holiday.
The main street in Labuan Bajo was dead; many tour places weren’t even open and the ones that were open seemed to be manned by Sunday staff, ie a person just looking after the shop who doesn’t really know or care about the business and who plucks high prices out of thin air just to make you go away.
After more than an hour of getting nowhere we were frustrated with all our fruitless efforts and were suffocating with the heat so we stopped at a bar for a drink.
Casually asking the kid in the bar if he knew of anyone with a boat who might take us for a two day/one night cruise around Rinca and Komodo Islands was the best thing we could have done.
Here’s how to organise your trip to Rinca and Komodo Islands:
You go to Bar Matahari in Labuan Bajo and find the young lad with the frizzy hair (actually you could go to any bar and find any boy looking to earn a few thousand rupiah on a Sunday afternoon). You tell him how much you want to pay and where you want to go.
We were willing to pay 2.2million rp for both of us for a private boat with cabin to take us to visit Rinca and Komodo Islands with meals included.
The boy then gets on his motorbike and heads to the port while you enjoy a cold beer and the view from the bar.
We had arranged to meet our young travel agent later but as it happened we bumped into him at the port just after he had found us a boat. We were down there talking to fishermen and doing a bit of investigating ourselves but to little avail.
Our new friend took us to inspect the boat he’d found. It was large for just us with a nice outer deck with a big table and benches. The cabin had two double bunk beds and the western-style toilet was also just for us.
We agreed that we would sail the following morning at 8am and that we would visit Rinca Island. After lunch we would go to the Pink Beach for snorkelling and then we would anchor close to Komodo Island to sleep.
The next morning we would continue to Komodo Island to visit Komodo National Park and then we would sail to Kanawa Island where we would be dropped off.
We were originally planning to go back to Labuan Bajo to spend the night and go to Kanawa the following day but after checking out the accommodation options in Labuan Bajo we decided to extend our stay in Kanawa and arrive one day earlier than planned.
We were to pay 2.2million rp to the boat crew as agreed and this would include our meals, which turned out to be elaborate feasts.
We closed the deal by paying 1 million up front and went off to celebrate with a large Bintang.
The price paid might sound like a lot, especially compared to our three-night boat trip in Kalimantan but these are the prices on Flores Island. The best deal we had found at one travel agency had been the same price but with no cabin, instead sleeping on deck. And most were charging much more.
Why did we wait to book this tour on arrival instead of booking online beforehand?
Pretty much the same reason we didn’t book our accommodation beforehand in Labuan Bajo either: because we couldn’t find anything worth taking! Either the prices were too high or the itinerary wasn’t what we wanted or it was a shared boat or it had to be confirmed upon arrival anyway…
The truth is that we had forgotten that we were arriving in Labuan Bajo on a Sunday. Nor had we realised just how difficult it would be to do business on a Sunday.
You will always eventually find what you need and money talks. People want to work and you are offering them work. If you don’t find what you want immediately, don’t panic; shop around, go to the port if necessary and speak to a few boat captains.
Stay tuned to find out how we got on on the actual cruise itself…
About the Author: Lisa, born and grew up in England, live in Mallorca, Spain... Have visited more than 20 countries, have twice as many to yet visit, love sharing experiences....