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, where our OAT Trip Leader meets us for the transfer to our hotel.
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.
Next, we head to a local orphanage to spend time with children from the Labuan Bajo community. From there, we continue on to Batu Cermin (Mirror Rock). Set within the limestone hills on the outer edges of Labuan Bajo, Batu Cermin is impressive even from the outside. The distinct rock formation offers panoramic views of the coast. Once inside, we’ll appreciate how aptly the cave is named. As the sun shines through a hole in the rock, the reflection of its rays on the slick rock surfaces creates a dazzling light show throughout the tunnel. As we make our way through the various pre-chambers of the cave, be on the lookout for the colonies of bats who call Batu Cermin home.
Afterward, we return to relax and watch the sunset before gathering for dinner at the hotel.
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. 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.
We take another short boat ride around the island to Komodo Village, where wooden homes on stilts crowd together along the waterline, allowing the locals to keep a close eye on the sea upon which they depend for livelihood and sustenance—and on the dragons, about which they must be vigilant, as there is no fencing to keep them from entering the village (and attacking livestock or even sleeping humans).
After we get to know the village, 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. We begin with a visit to a local market to see the goods that islanders buy and sell. Then, we visit Melo 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 sample the village arak, an Indonesian equivalent to moonshine, and we learn how it is distilled from palm and fermented with red rice. 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 simply linger over a drink at one of the many waterside cafés and restaurants.
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 go ashore once again, this time to meet the local people of Rinca Village. Rinca is an island with limited resources, so the villagers live simply, supporting themselves from the local bounty as much as possible, while also keeping on guard against Komodo attacks.
This afternoon, we return to Labuan Bajo, in time to enjoy watching the sunset together over drinks at the Paradise Bar, which is set on the hillside to afford the best views of the sea. We gather in a local restaurant for a Farewell Dinner this evening.
Enjoy free time in Flores today to make a few last discoveries on your own. Lunch is on your own today, and you might choose to 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.
This afternoon, we fly to Denpasar, Bali, arriving mid-afternoon. You’ll have ample time to settle in and relax 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.