How To Get There
Gateways to Komodo Island
Komodo is no longer a remote island accessible only by wealthy tourists on private boats. Today there are over 20,000 visitors a year that visit the park. The majority of visitors still arrive by cruise ship, despite the fact the most popular, Spice Island Cruises, ceased operations in 1999.
The gateway to Komodo is arguably the island of Bali. While most visitors to Komodo National Park enter through the gateway cities of Bima in eastern Sumbawa, or Labuanbajo in the west of Flores, the departure point is actually Bali. Both Bima and Labuanbajo are serviced by regularly scheduled flights that depart daily at 9:30am from Denpasar to Bima, with connecting flights to Labuanbajo on Monday and Saturday. The gateway cities are also connected to Bali by overland buses and inter-island ferries. There are local coastal ships that travel between Lombok and Labuanbajo. These boats cater to tourists and take passengers on a four day trip that includes a day and night in Komodo National Park (cost $50 per person).
After arriving in Sumbawa, a ferry service from the port of Sape in the east of the island to Labuanbajo picks up and drops off passengers in Komodo in the July-August peak tourist season. Otherwise local tour operators organize shared boat charters from either Bima or Labuanbajo to Loh Liang and the smaller islands in Komodo National Park. Grand Komodo Tours operates a four day/three night package from Bima to Komodo return for US$190, with two nights in a hotel, and one on a live aboard boat.
Airfares: Denpasar to Bima
US$ 60 o/w
The Komodo National Park administrative offices are located in Labuanbajo in west Flores. An information center and travel agents where transportation to and from the Park can be arranged are also found in Labuanbajo. The majority of tourists to the Park pass through the Loh Liang ranger station nestled in the sweeping arc of Slawi Bay on Komodo island. This is the largest facility in Komodo National Park with bungalows and rooms, a restaurant and a dormatory for the park rangers. The most popular tourist activity is a hike to the Banugulung viewing area, a two-hour roundtrip level walk that originates from Loh Liang. Hikes to other areas of Komodo are also possible, and vary from one to two days: Gunung Ara, Poreng, Loh Sebita, Gunung Sata libo, Soro Masangga. On longer walks overnight accommodation can be arranged at ranger posts at Loh Sebita and Loh Genggo. For certified divers there is a compressor and diving equipment available for hire at Loh Liang as well as masks and fins for snorkellers. Handicrafts made in the nearby village of Komodo are for sale at the arrival jetty.
The entrance ticket to Komodo National Park costs Rp 25,000 and is valid for three days. It is easily renewable, so a prolonged stay in the park is possible. There are two ranger stations which provide spartan accommodation for tourists: Loh Liang on Komodo and Loh Buaya on Rinca. The charges are minimal and start at Rp 30,000 per room. Be advised that everything is basic, including beds, communal toilets and food availability. Fortunately most travellers are not deterred by the limited facilities, accepting this as a part of the Komodo experience. Advance booking for accommodation are not accepted.
The hiking on Rinca is less strenuous than that on Komodo, and has the added attraction of viewing the wild horses and monkeys which are not found on Komodo. On Rinca wild buffalo are more common and easily seen as well. On the north side of the island, behind Rinca village, is a large cave with a resident bat colony. Rangers at both Loh Liang and Loh Buaya are readily available to lead walks, and are knowledgeable about the local fauna and birdlife.
Diving in Komodo
Scuba divers have a number of operators to chose from and range from the live-aboard luxury of Dive Komodo's MS Evening Star to the more spartan accommodation found on the boats operated by Grand Komodo Tours.
Dive Komodo: Operates two charter vessels: 30m long MS Evening Star with six cabins and a large dormatory aft. Shared facilities; 23m long Dewata Ayu, a luxury catamaran with four double berth cabins. One toilet. Both vessels have Bauer compressors and twin aluminum tenders.
Divemaster: Mark Heighes.
Cost US$180 per person for Evening Star, $120 per person for Noorigoo
Grand Komodo: Operates three vessels: the 20m coastal steamer Komodo Plus with five cabins and shared facilities; the Tarata, a larger 30m converted steamer with A/C six cabins and attached baths; and the Baka Temu, a large eight cabin phinisi boat with all the mod-cons . All boats have Bauer compressors with aluminum dinghy.
Regularly scheduled departures start from $780 per person for seven days, with all diving and food included.
CNDive. Operates one converted steamer with sleeping space on deck. Three day dive safaris.
courtesy of Asia Map,