Indonesia is full of adventures. You can climb volcanos, go trekking, do all sorts of water sports, but the Komodo Boat Tour is one not to be missed! It was definitely not the lap of luxury, and you will definitely need a sense of humour, BUT it was well worth being disgusting, stinky and uncomfortable for 4 days/4 nights to be able to experience this trip.
Why should I go?
Indonesia is made up of thousands of islands and most people will only be aware of Sumatra (the one nearest Malaysia), Java (where the capital Jakarta is found) and Bali. As you get further southeast you start to hit the islands that usually only locals and travellers will be found; Gili Islands, Lombok, Komodo, Rinca, Flores…amongst many many others. These are some of the remote islands that you will get to visit along the tour.
The other big draw is in the title…the infamous carnivorous Komodo Dragons can only be found on 5 islands in the world, all are in Indonesia; Komodo, Flores, Padar, Gili Motang and Rinca islands. These very large Lizards can reach 3m in length and have been known to run up to speeds of 14mph!
The boat stops at both Komodo and Rinca to go Dragon spotting!
After my week on Gili Trawangan (Just off Bali) I decided to book onto one of the 4 day, 4 night trips which takes you around 8 islands in total. I booked through a tour agent on Gili T and prices started at 1.8m Rupiah for a ‘bed’ on the shared deck or 2.5m Rupiah for a private (TINY!!!) cabin.
I went with Wanua Komodo Tour Company and it cost me around 1.5m Rupiah (£75 at the time of writing) as competition is fierce and you can definitely haggle the price down. All companies are quite similar so just go with your gut. If I’m honest I wasn’t massively impressed with the company I went with as the crew spoke barely any English and looked pretty damn miserable most of the time. At one point when we were told we could go for a trek on Gili Laba they got us off the boat and just left us to find the way ourselves!
What is included:
- 3 basic Indonesian meals and a big bottle of water per day (you WILL get sick of rice & veg!)
- Free coffee & tea at any time…no milk
- Life jackets (never got a safety briefing but well it is Asia)
- Crap snorkelling equipment with no flippers (bring your own!)
- Shared deck: 1 thin leather mattress with a thin blanket and grubby pillow
- Private cabin: shared double bed squashed into a hot & loud room right near the engine
- Entrance fee to Komodo & Rinca National Parks
- Wild Komodo Dragon spotting
- Snorkelling with Manta Rays
- Red beach (the sand looks red/pink)
- Salt water lake
- Flying foxes (loads of bats!)
- Drinking & sleeping!!
The boat is 20-25m long and 4-5m wide and has a capacity of 25-35 people. Most people slept upstairs on the covered and VERY cosy deck with no privacy. Around 3 couples had “upgraded” into more expensive cabins, but they were cramped and VERY hot so I wouldn’t recommend unless you really don’t want to share.
I got a 8am boat from Gili Trawangan to Bangsal Harbour on Lombok which was only a 15-20 minute trip. I had been told which cafe to go sit in to meet the boat company, which apparently was only 5 minutes from the harbour so I ignored all the taxi drivers hollers and walked straight past them out of the harbour and up the road. I kept asking people were the cafe was and the said to keep going when I finally came across it 5-10 minutes later.
BEWARE: The key thing to note here is although you HAVE to check in around 8:30/9am, but you don’t leave for the main boat (your home for the next 4 days) until after lunch!!!! So be prepared to wait.
You get the option to purchase any additional food or drink you may want for the trip at that time, but you only have that one chance to put in your order for the full 4 days, so stock up on 25% more beer than you think you might need as it WILL run out! There is one more opportunity to buy some more snacks/drinks when you stop for the night on day 3 but the drinks will be warm.
The afternoon of day 1 sees you first climbing aboard and grabbing a bed. Get on the boat first if you can, and get a mattress near the front of the upper deck so you can get in and out quickly/easily, but DO NOT get the first 1-2 spots as you’ll be crawled all over!
You will then sail for the rest of the afternoon to the other side of Lombok to Sugian, where you stop to have a swim, catch the sunset and have dinner.
That night whilst you are asleep the boat will sail on to Moyo for day 2.
BEWARE: The boat at night gets so rocky you will likely feel sick, so take some anti-seasick tablets with you or valium!
DAY 2: Moyo – Satonda
Waking up to a deafening whistle at 7:30 to have a breakfast of 2 slices of toast was unpleasant, but was the start of things to come. After breakfast and with very little info being given out freely by our crew, we swam over to Moyo island. The crew member that was our guide came to shore by a little boat they had, so we could all put our trainers/cameras/clothes in a big plastic box that came ashore with him.
There was an easy jungle trek to a waterfall that took about 30 mins each way and then we could snorkel before swimming back to the boat.
Lunch of various Indonesian vegetable dishes & rice was served, then we then spent the whole of the afternoon sailing to Satonda. Honestly, although you had been given the rough route when you booked the trip, it was very hard to keep up with where we were or where we were going next, as the crew pretty much kept themselves to themselves. Other companies might be different but Wanua I would not recommend.
BEWARE: It appears there is no shower on the boat, but on the last day we realised there is fresh water lurking in big blue water butts at the front of the boat we could pour over ourselves. The crew failed to inform us of this little piece of information!
DAY 3: Manta Point – Gili Laba – Red Beach – Kalong Island
DAY 4: Komodo – Rinca – Flores
BEWARE: I purchased my plane ticket for Flores to Bali from the same agent I bought the boat ticket from on Gili Trawangan in order to get the flight I wanted (they often book up fast on the day). When I got to the airport the airline had no record of me so ALWAYS BOOK ONLINE!
I hope this pretty detailed summary gives you an idea of what to expect. It is definitely more of a backpacker friendly adventure as it’s very hot, you don’t shower, the food is monotonous and you sleep in communal areas, but despite all the downsides (of which there were many!) it was totally worth it!