My Visit To Rinca Island (Komodo National Park)

We arrived at Rinca (pronounced Rincha) Island at about 10am. We had just enjoyed a two hour journey by boat weaving our way through beautiful scenery, passing stunning islands, gorgeous beaches and a magnificent array of colours in a patchwork water.

The first thing we saw when we stepped ashore on Rinca Island was a ‘Beware of the Crocodiles’ notice.

Rinca Island

As we walked tentatively down the pier we approached a group of people standing like guards, each clutching a sturdy stick with a fork at the end like a Y. They greeted us and one of them was assigned to us. We were introduced to Anton, our ranger.

Basically Anton and his stick would be escorting us around Rinca Island. He was here to make sure the Komodo Dragons did not tear our arms and legs off.

Rinca Island

The entrance fee into the national park worked out at 270,000rp for the two of us. This included the entry fee for both of us, the ranger fee and the camera fee. The entry fee would be valid for the whole of Komodo National Park, including the next day’s visit to Komodo Island; we would just have to pay 80,000rp for the ranger.

Our guide showed us a map of the park on Rinca Island with routes on it and gave us the choice of short trek, medium trek or long trek. We went for the medium trek because for some bizarre reason Toni had left the boat in his flip flops! Plus it was about 32ºC and sunny.

The medium trek was about 2.5km and took just over an hour as there was a lot of stopping and snapping.

Before all this, before we’d paid and before we had even reached the entrance and visitor centre of Komodo National Park, Anton pointed out our very first dragon. It was a baby of about 1m long and was lurking at the edge of the barren open plain we were walking across near the woods.

Rinca Island

“Come on,” said Anton making a beeline for it. We followed hesitantly. The dragon gave us a look of contempt and turned around and swished off to the woods.

It was then that we realised that where we were standing, all around us there were strange crab-like creatures running around on the ground.

rinca island

I have never seen a crab like this one: they were black and had this one giant orange claw with pincers like a lobster. They were well creepy. I was glad I didn’t have flip flops on like Toni!

We continued with a shudder, the guide telling us happily that you don’t normally see the dragons right there at the entrance.

After we’d sorted the tickets out and decided which trek to do, no sooner had we left the visitor centre when we saw three Komodo Dragons lying under an elevated building.

Rinca Island

We were told that this was the kitchen and that the dragons were attracted by the smell of food. The people inside the wooden building were quite contentedly preparing the food, seemingly oblivious to the three menaces lurking below.

Rinca Island

“Do those people know that the Komodo Dragons are under the house?” I asked.
“Ye-es,” said Anton. “Sometimes they go up the steps and into the kitchen.”

Anton then proceeded to tell us that the Komodo Dragons are unpredictable and that there is never any indication in their behaviour of when they would attack. He told us that they could be perfectly calm, just lying there “like these,” he said gesturing at the dinosaur-like reptiles only eight metres from us.

Rinca Island

He smiled at our aghast faces, completely missing the impact of his words.

He went on to say that normally when one attacks, if there are more together then they all join in.

“You can go closer to take good photographs if you want,” he said with a hint of a smile.
No thanks!

As we got started on the trek on Rinca Island, all the while on high alert for attack by unpredictable reptiles capable of gobbling us up in one bite if they felt so inclined, I casually asked Anton about his stick.

“So do you ever actually have to use that thing?” I hope the answer was no.
“Ye-es, many times,” he said. “When they attack.”

I wished I hadn’t asked.

Anton had this way of saying ‘yes’ making it sound over two syllables. I think it was just his accent but when he answered yes it was as though he was answering a stupid question to which the answer was obvious.

We were well into the woods, keeping as close to Anton as possible when he can to a stop.

Rinca Island

“Dragon’s nest,” he said indicating some rather large holes in the dirt. “That’s where they leave their eggs. When the babies hatch they run up the tree and live there for at least three years. Komodo Dragons are carnivores and other dragons might attack the babies. Even the mother might attack her own baby so the babies run up the tree.”

What a twisted existence, huh?

We were just about to continue when Anton shushed us again and pointed. There, next to one of the holes was a full size Komodo Dragon, laying deathly still, camouflaged as a log, watching us with beady eyes.

“She’s guarding her eggs,” whispered Anton. “This is when the Komodo Dragons are most dangerous because they could see us as a threat.”

We were less than four metres from it. The last thing I wanted was a demonstration of how Anton uses that stick of his.

Anton didn’t seem worried though. “Don’t you want to take photos?” he asked.
No! I didn’t. I wanted to get out of there.

“So let me get this straight,” I asked Anton once we were back on the path. “The Komodo Dragon goes to the trouble of digging that hole, laying the eggs and fiercely protecting the eggs. And then once the babies are born she might attack them?”

Nasty creatures!

Continuing through the forest, Anton told us about the eating habits of the Komodo Dragons. They only eat once a month and they eat whole animals like some snakes do. They eat anything from chickens to deer to pigs to buffalo to each other.

Suddenly we saw a water buffalo sitting peacefully in a water hole. It was awesome.

Rinca Island

Rinca Island

Water buffalos like fresh water and once they find a water hole they will sit there for a long time. This makes them easy targets for the Komodo Dragons who sneak up behind them and bite the hind or the legs and then sit back and wait for days for the poison and infection to kill it. Then they devour it leaving nothing but skull and horns.

Rinca Island

The rest of the walk on Rinca Island was uneventful with just a few sightings of silent Komodo Dragons and some very picturesque views of the tropical landscape.

Rinca Island

Another half an hour later we were sitting in the rangers’ station sharing a large Bintang, more relaxed now, but always with one eye on the dragon by the tree only 10metres away…

To see all my Rinca Island photos including more amazing landscape and more Komodo Dragons, visit my gallery on Flickr.

I would like to remind you that all the photos used on are my own unless otherwise stated.
You can see my whole collection of Travel Photos here.

Filed Under: asiafeaturedIndonesiaNusa Tenggara


About the Author: Based in Mallorca, obsessed with the world and have a lot to say about both... Step into my shoes and join me on a journey...

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  1. susan sykes says:

    Fabulous post I really enjoyed reading it, I would have been so scared had I been there.

    • Lisa says:

      It was scary but still fun, and the place was stunning. Plus, it’s not every day you can say you’ve seen komodo dragons!

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