Sunday, September 11, 2011

Rindja To Komodo - Wild Animals and Good Times

Our chart plotter is way off for this area. We dutifully plot courses for each trip but they end up being ignored as we approach any anchorage. The ranger’s hut at Rindja sits at the end of a narrow entrance within which, 9 yachts anchored so it was pretty tight.  
Where we anchored is apparently on land!!
The local tour boats navigate their way through, full of tourists wanting to see the famous Komodo Dragons. We went in and paid 205000Rp (a little over $25) for Rene and I’s entrance to the park, anchorage fee, guide, tax and camera fee. It’s $5 just to take a camera into the park so we shared with Narid and only paid half each. We saw some dragons right away – there are about 6 living under the kitchen, hoping for some scraps. There was also a sick dragon that had been injured in a fight – it didn’t look too well. We set out into the park, our two guides explaining facts about the dragons such as the gestation period is 9 months, the females are much smaller than the males, the babies climb trees once they’re born to avoid being eaten by their mothers and stay up there for about 2 years, surviving on insects. They can run at about 20km / hour and have poisonous saliva – if you’re bitten, you’ll be dead within a day. Yikes!  
One of the dragons by the camp kitchen.
We walked for 2 or so hours through quite dry bushland, shaded sometimes by giant palm trees and bushes. The guides hold long, pronged sticks which they used to fend off any creatures that came close. The first creature they used the sticks on was a cobra – but in this case it was to try and scare it out of its hiding spot (I’m glad it stayed hidden). We came upon about 7 huge water buffalo who either stared at us, trotted off or stood their ground, horns at the ready.
This guy wasn't moving out of the way for anyone!
After a short rest, we spotted two Komodo Dragons! One was on our path, the other was running off up the slope. One guide ran after the biggest dragon and shoo’d it out of hiding, so we could take photos! Later we came upon a dragon sleeping in the shade and were invited to pose in front of it for photos!  
A dragon, us and a guide... all in a day's cruising here!
I seem to be the most tasty for biting insects (even wearing 40% deet insect repellant) and was followed incessantly by horse flies and other bugs I’ve never seen before (luckily, none of them carry malaria!). Derk was also attacked but we still enjoyed the walk through bushland, over giant water buffalo dung.  
At the completion of the walk, Mary and John from Gavia Arctica kindly shouted us all a cold tally of Bintang which we drank, sitting in one of the shelters at the main site while monkeys curiously looked on.  
The Komodo Dragon tour crew and guide.
A wild Dragon...
Narid invited us all over for a banana pancake breakfast the next morning. What a memorable morning full of culinary pleasures and good company! We swapped photos and had a relaxing morning. Back on Anima, we set to doing some chores: Rene installed a small computer fan in the saloon while I did hand washing. Derk came over and helped us with our HF radio which makes our voices sound like robots. We couldn’t fix the problem but discovered that we sound less like Darth Vader in the lower frequencies.
The tides and currents in this area are not to be laughed at. They can run at up to 8 knots and some can even sweep divers 80metres underwater! There was much discussion among the captains about which way the tides would be flowing and when. All published material about this area seems to be wrong so we have to rely upon observation and advice from fellow yachties. Narid and Anima sailed and motored across to an anchorage on Komodo Island that is renowned for its pink beach. 
A peddler approached us in his tiny kayak while we were still anchoring, trying to sell pearls. I said ‘ma af’ (sorry) and he let us be. Yay! Hassle free! Later however, Rene and I were having a midday “hug” and were interrupted by peddlers holding onto Anima. Rene tried a tactic that works in Australia with Jehovas Witnesses – he started making very loud moans and groans that can only be deciphered as one thing... Instead of having the desired result (peace), the peddler’s yelled back ‘Hello Meeester’ repeatedly. A real turn off. Rene ended up having to go out and say no thanks to their pearls, wooden dragons, shells and more pearls. They asked for T shirts again and stayed for over 30 minutes. I hid inside feeling annoyed.
There was a strong current in the anchorage and no pink beach but an amazing array of corals. We had a great snorkel over such a vast array of corals – huge fan corals and so many tiny, colourful fish. Derk didn’t have any luck with his spear gun. Rene only got out of the water when something very big and grey appeared in the corner of his vision!! 
Snorkelling in crystal clear waters on south Komodo
Rene snorkelling past glowing blue corals.
We moved early next morning to an anchorage with a big reputation. It gets 9 (out of 10) stars in the 101 Indonesian Anchorages. It was pretty nice but the snorkeling was very average, the anchorage was very deep (20 metres so we put out 80 metres of chain) and there were many large tourist dive boats sharing the bay with their motors running constantly. 
Rene and Derk had a go at trying to spear a fish but they all got away. I had plans of a beach sunset (a favourite pastime while cruising the QLD coast not often repeated since then) but the tide was low and the reef exposed in parts. Instead, we had a pot luck and games night onboard Narid while night divers from the big tour boat lit up the water with a green glow below. 
Derk and Rene - fun and crazy times!

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic! Sad to have to deal with the effects of tourism but at least your intro in Wakatobi was dreamlike.