On 16th April 2017 four hapless explorers from the UK embarked on a terrifying journey into the realm of a bulky giant with a rampant appetite for living flesh (no, not that Man vs Food presenter). Accompanied only by an experienced warden they were abandoned on the shores of Rinca Island for a full hour by the errant crew of their ship, who walked a few paces behind then went to the café for cokes. Here they sought out the feared Komodo dragon on the well-marked trails of the island, never knowing when one might appear in their path and savagely follow them for a month hoping they would die.
Thankfully the first beasts they encountered were asleep – or were they? – under a tree. Like, completely sparkoed and the warden knew exactly where they were. Almost as if they’d fed them a buffet meal laced with roofies in this exact spot and waited for them to pass out before bringing all visitors to see them. As the fearless team approached the warden warned them to be aware of the dragon’s hunting technique – they are ambush predators and could spring to life and gore you at any moment. ‘So if you could stand a few inches behind it and crouch down I’ll take a load of photos. But bear in mind it definitely could wake up at any moment and kill you.’ The dragon’s eyes were closed, a menacing bead of sleepy drool pooling on the ground below its chin. What a fearsome predator, one that can fake sleepy drool!
Following this heady encounter the crew headed for the warden’s office where a gang of dragons were wandering and seemingly eating unidentifiable scraps from the dust. The warden assured the explorers the dragons are attracted by smells from the kitchen and simply like spending time around humans (they’re witty and refined compared to cannibalistic reptiles). It’s certainly nothing to do with the dragons getting fed – what a ridiculous notion! As the travellers watched in horror a male Komodo tried to mount a female but she was having none of it and made quite a scary hissing/grunting noise. This is perhaps not surprising given the male has two penises which he conceals inside something called a cloaca. Surely an alarming thing.
But the most terrifying moment was to come later when the writer of this account discovered someone on the internet made this to accompany a post about the two penis dragon.
The adventurers continued on their trail, passing a depression in the ground – a dragon nest where at the right time of year you could find a female guarding her 15-30 buried eggs. When the babies hatch they bolt straight up the nearest tree as any passing adult dragons would eat them otherwise. In fact, sometimes if mum is peckish and can’t find easy snacks she’ll come back to her nest and eat them eggs herself. Isn’t nature wonderful?
Thankfully the four visitors weren’t subjected to the sight of any reptilian matricide (good name for a band? or political party?), or indeed any more wild dragons. Instead they followed the warden up a hill overlooking the bay where their ship is docked. Bathed in sweat they took in the stunning views.
The epic sixty minute long expedition on Rinca Island was nearly over. The weary travellers descended the hill, one of them named Tanya slipping and expertly descending a large section of the track on her backside.
As they were leaving the island she almost got mauled by a monkey with a coke habit. As in, it really wanted her Coca Cola. This would have been a very fitting irony for ending the trip to dragonland. Thankfully she escaped its grasping monkey claws and rushed for the boat. The ship and travellers departed, gazing back at the lush shores of Rinca Island. A sea eagle cruised overhead like a gigantic drifting kite. They felt lucky to be alive.
Joking aside, we really enjoyed our trip to Rinca. We visited as part of a day trip to the Komodo National Marine Park. We went with Neren Diving and had a really special day snorkelling around the islands and ending with our trek on Rinca. Our day trip departed from Labuan Bajo on Flores and cost 1,000,000IDR. Drinks, food and snorkelling equipment were included.