The first Dutch sailors to see the fearsome 10-foot lizards on Komodo Island were so awestruck that they dubbed the creatures “dragons.” But these sharp-toothed beasts are not merely the stuff of legend—in Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands, they are part of the fabric of life. You’ll have a chance to discover them on their namesake isle and on smaller Rinca Island. And you’ll get to know the people who share this archipelago, meeting people in their villages, witnessing their traditional arts, and exploring the dramatic landscapes they call home, from mountain caves to a pink-sand beach.
- It's Included:
- International airfare from Denpasar, Bali, to Labuan Bajo, Flores
- Accommodations for 4 nights in Flores, 1 night in Kuta, and 1 night in Taipei
- 13 meals—6 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 3 dinners
- 11 small group activities
- Services of an OAT Trip Leader
- All transfers
We leave Denpasar this morning and fly to Labuan Bajo. Ideal for swimming and snorkeling, the small fishing village of Labuan Bajo is located on the western end of Flores and has become the gateway town for trips to nearby Komodo Island and Rinca Island. Today, we stay local and enjoy lunch at restaurant close to the hotel.
Later, we walk around Bukit Cinta (Love Hill) to take in lovely panoramic views as the sun sets on Labuan Bajo and the sea. This evening, we dine together at a local restaurant.
After breakfast, we transfer to Labuan Bajo’s rustic jetty, where wooden homes and piers hug the blue water. We board small boats for our ride to Komodo Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Like Australia, Komodo was first settled as a penal exile colony, but the descendants of its first settlers are now avid fishermen.
It’s not the human inhabitants for whom the island is best known in the popular imagination however; that distinction goes to the island’s “dragons,” the existence of which was first reported 200 years ago but not proved until the early 20th century. More accurately described as a monitor lizard, the scaly giants have attracted scientists and curious travelers from around the globe.
A local ranger greets us when we go ashore on Komodo Island, then leads us on a walking exploration of the island’s flora and fauna, keeping an eye out for the lizards. They have famously keen hearing, so our guide may encourage us to be fairly quiet on our walk, in hopes of not disrupting its natural behavior patterns.
Later, we discover the island’s other unique feature: pink sand. One of only a handful of pink-sand beaches on Earth, this shoreline is colored by foraminifera, living marine protozoa which turn the sand reddish; when the red sand and white beach sand are tumbled together by the tide, the resulting blend is an attractive pink color. We’ll picnic in this atmospheric setting for lunch, leaving time for snorkeling or swimming.
Then, we return by boat to Flores, where you enjoy leisure time to explore before dinner on your own.
After we enjoy breakfast together, we spend the day getting to know what life on the island of Flores is like with a visit to Cecer Village, where the clan-based Manggarai speak their own dialect. Though their tribal population rose to a half million in the 20th century, their numbers have dwindled somewhat in recent years, and village elders are working hard to preserve their culture.
We witness Caci dancing, a sport in which masked men wield whips in stylized combat that is meant to symbolize the unity of men and women in creation. Then, we learn how palm sugar is produced and watch villagers pounding homegrown coffee beans into powder. As we talk with the locals, we’ll enjoy a richer understanding of village life and Manggarai culture.
We return to Labuan Bajo this afternoon for lunch together, and the balance of the day is at leisure. Perhaps you’ll snorkel at nearby Bidadari Island or stroll among the stalls of the ocean-side market for local favorites such as fried locally-caught squid or martabak pancakes, stuffed with chocolate, cheese, fruit, and nuts.
Today, we enjoy a rare opportunity to discover Rinca, an island few Americans visit. Smaller than Komodo Island and even more unspoiled, this is the best locale for having a chance to witness Komodo dragons in their natural habitat. We begin our explorations aboard a traditional fishing boat like the ones used by islanders. Our boat brings us to Rinca, where a ranger will guide us on our quest to see the mighty creatures— the longest lizard on Earth—often growing to a length of nearly ten feet.
After we pause for lunch back aboard our vessel, we visit Kelor Island. Here, we have free time to relax and swim along the island’s beautiful shore.
This afternoon, we return to our hotel Labuan Bajo. We gather in a local restaurant for a Farewell Dinner this evening.
This morning, we fly to Denpasar, Bali, arriving in the early afternoon. You’ll have ample time to settle into your hotel and enjoy lunch on your own before we join together for dinner in a local restaurant.
A morning of leisure awaits you in Kuta, where you can shop, unwind on beautiful Kuta Beach, or visit a park that features traditional Balinese art. After lunch on your own today, we transfer to the airport.
After we fly to Taipei, we check into our hotel located just a short distance away. Dinner is own your own.
After breakfast in our hotel, we return to the Taipei airport for our flight back to the U.S. via Los Angeles.