Selfie with the Komodo Dragon at Komodo National Park

posted in: Asia, Indonesia, Nature, Tips | 48

I have a confession to make. I kind of, don’t like slithering, slimy reptiles. Ok! Scratch that! Let me give it to you straight – I am petrified of snakes and dislike the scaly lizards. When I heard that I was on a trip that would take me to see a giant monitor lizard – the Komodo Dragon, I rushed to google up more on this creature. It did not help that there were scary stories about them, facts that were not very encouraging and well, a chit of a brother who insisted on sending me dangerous shots of the crazy Komodo Dragon showing off its forked tongue.Β Reading was not enough.Β I even got in touch with people who had gone to see them. It was heartening to know that they were back without a scratch πŸ˜‰ and that is when I decided to take on the adviceΒ that my fellow blogger – Rutavi Mehta Β – FACE YOUR FEARS!!!

I decided that I was going to take a selfie with the Komodo Dragon!

Komodo Dragon at Komodo National Park
Komodo Dragon at Komodo National Park

And with that objective in mind, I loaded myself with all the knowledge that I could gather about this beast. The more I read about them, the more fascinated I was and my fear dimmed remarkably.

Facts about the Komodo Dragon

This giant monitor lizard has an ancestral link to the prehistoric beasts of yester-era – the dinosaurs. They are known to be found only on 3 islands in Indonesia. They cannot survive a zoo and if you are keen to visit them, then the Komodo National Park is the only option. Frankly, this exclusivity made me feel really brave and important – well, I was one of the few who was going to sight these rare creature. I do think that this is something that one can be proud of. πŸ™‚

Komodo Dragon at Komodo National Park
Komodo Dragon at Komodo National Park

Here are some other fascinating facts about the Komodo Dragon, some as explained by the rangers at the Komodo National Park Β –

  • The Komodo dragons are found on three islands – Padar Island, Rinca and Komodo Island
  • They grow to over 3m, in fact the largest ones were on the very island – the Komodo Island, that I visited
  • They have a forked tongue and use their saliva to disable and poison their prey. Their saliva has 60 different toxic bacteria. (ARGH!!!)
  • They hunt solitary but like to party together once the prey is caught.
  • They are quite fast and can rush upto 15 – 20 kms per hour. They can even swim.
  • They have a keen sense of smell and quite like the sharks – can smell blood 18 kms away
  • They don’t bite but eat on the whole. Their food consists of deer, pigs, water buffaloes and well, sometimes humans. (DOUBLE ARGH!!!) Why they don’t even leave their own babies.

Loaded with all this information and with a determined mind, I was all set to meet the Komodo dragon in its own lair. It helped to know that I had 9 other bloggers with me as distraction and possibly to call on for help. To be honest, it was the sheer spirit and excitement of these bloggers and the Skyscanner team that my fear completely gave way to a pleasant anticipation.

Sailing to Komodo National Park

Komodo Island - the lair of the Komodo Dragons
Komodo Island – the lair of the Komodo Dragons

The only way to get to Komodo Island is to sail there from the little town of Labuan Bajo. The Komodo National park is not just about Komodo Island and spotting the Komodo dragon. There is plenty more to do – which I will cover in my next post. For now, let’s take it from our boat speeding towards the Komodo Island. A long wooden bridge led you from the shore into the home of the Komodo dragon.

Wooden ramp that leads you to your hosts - the Komodo Dragons
Wooden ramp that leads you to your hosts – the Komodo Dragons

When I was walking on that ramp, I do admit I felt as if I was walking towards the gallows. πŸ™ However, when I saw folks walking back with a smile on their face, those thoughts just vanished. With my senses on high alert, I went on to meet the rangers – our protectors and our guides.

Advice from the Rangers

Once you enter the park, rangers take over. They share their knowledge of the Komodo dragon with you while introducing you to their weapon of choice – a stick with a fork on the top. I probed them on how they would use the stick . With a smile, the ranger in charge said – “Well! We just tap them on their nose and they go away”.

Ranger at Komodo National Park
Ranger at Komodo National Park

They did give us quite a bit of advice, all of which I am sharing with you so that you are in turn, well prepared to meet this rare beast.

  1. Stay in a group, do not venture out alone.
  2. If the Komodo dragon fancies you and sets off towards you, run as fast as you can but not in a straight line. Run in a zig zag manner.
  3. Keep your voices low and stay alert
  4. Do not smoke while there.
  5. If you have any wounds or cuts, please let the ranger know so that he can keep a special look out for you. In case of ladies, if you are having your periods, please do let the ranger know.

And the last tip from my end – “Just stick close to the ranger” πŸ™‚

Scary tales of the Komodo dragon

While we set our on a trek to hunt for the Komodo dragon, the ranger entertained us with facts about the island and the dragons there. The Komodo Island itself, had over 2000 dragons residing on it. He warned us that there was a chance we may not encounter any dragon. It was a matter of chance. He then, also, told us some really scary tales about the Komodo. They are best heard by you from the ranger. Click on the video below –

After these tales, I gulped down my fear, reset my ambition of taking a selfie and marched on close to the ranger.

Searching for the elusive Komodo dragon

Deer within the Komodo National Park, food for the Komodo dragons
Deer within the Komodo National Park, food for the Komodo dragons

Through the trek, we passed their water holes, saw some deer and some wild orchids but no Komodos. We reached the end of the trek with none in sight. ItΒ wasΒ a little disappointing but the ranger was quick to assure us that since it was past noon and their meal time, they would be resting near the kitchen and we were bound to find at least one there. And true to his words, we found not one, but two of them getting ready for their noon nap.

Selfie with the Komodo Dragon

Spotting the first Komodo Dragon
Spotting the first Komodo Dragon
Another Komodo dragon relaxing under the shed
Another Komodo dragon relaxing under the shed

Finally the moment – the selfie with the Komodo dragon. Despite the tourists, these creatures were least bothered. All they seem to want is to rest. The ranger pointed out that their bellies were full and now was a great time to pose and take a selfie. The trick here was to be at least 2 – 3m away while the ranger took a picture of you.Β You are not allowed anywhere close to the dragon. Well, technically I could not take a selfie – but then, something to prove to my brother that I was no longer scared of them.

Selfie with the Komodo Dragon (well technically, not a selfie)
Selfie with the Komodo Dragon (well technically, not a selfie)

After the snap, I was treated to one more of these dragons, sleeping under a shed. They resembled a crocodile with their paws and scaly skin and actually slept like them too. I stood there with a smile on my face, thinking – “Why my friend Komodo, you are not all that bad!”

Close-up of the Komodo Dragon
Close-up of the Komodo Dragon

Would you care to visit these elusive, mysterious and rare Komodo dragon? Β  Let me know.


Getting here:

  • Labuan Bajo is the closest airport to get here. There are several flights from Denpasar and Jakarta that take you to Labuan Bajo. You can book them through this website.
  • Once in Labuan Bajo, you need to take a cruise to the Komodo Island.

Travel Tips:

  • Click here for the official link to this national park on the Ministry of Tourism Indonesia website.
  • Here are the entrance fees and other charges for Komodo Island.

Entrance fees to Komodo National Park

  • I would recommend picking a package boat cruise in Labuan Bajo. There are plenty of operators that can be found online as well as in Labuan Bajo. Our trip was organized by Oradive and included all our entrance fees and other costs. It made the entire journey much easier and smoother.
  • Ensure that you follow all the instructions that the ranger gives you.
  • Do not attempt to touch the Komodo dragon. All said and done, they are quite dangerous.
  • It is fairly warm here throughout the year. Ensure that you dress in cotton clothes, wear a cap and some comfortable shoes for trekking.
  • I highlyΒ recommend combining this visit with all the other activities that Komodo National Park offers – diving, snorkeling and trekking. A post on this will be up soon.
  • Stay options – mostly homestays are available in the Komodo Village. Alternatively, you can stay on a boat or in Labuan Bajo.


P.S: I was a part of the Bloggers’ trip organized by Skyscanner and Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia.






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48 Responses

  1. Awesome. Very informative post. Thanks for sharing Ami. πŸ™‚

  2. Hahaha! I remebe our discussion of the dragon. I was so exicted to go and see the beast. But I’m so glad that you overcome you fear and went to see. I’m sure it was worth it πŸ™‚

  3. Woah! Komodo dragon is one of the deadliest creatures in the world and look at these pictures. I’m stunned to see that you took a selfie with komodo and that too just from few meters away.Hats off to you! πŸ™‚

    BTW isn’t unfair to charge 30 times more from foreigners? Specially when we always ask that why Indian government charge more to foreigners. Also, the difference is huge here i.e. 30 times.

    • Thanks a ton. On the charges, don’t go by the zeros in Indonesian Rupiah. IDR 150,000 is around INR 750. The poor exchange rate of the currency does throw people off balance.

  4. I love coming back to your blog. Nice layout, nice posts and lots to learn from you Ami πŸ™‚

  5. Now this is awesome Ami, for the sake of facing the fears you have gathered so much almost all of what can be known about komodo dragon πŸ™‚ the pictures are wonderful πŸ™‚

  6. Proud of you Ami ! You really did overcome your fear πŸ™‚ . Great description and lovely snaps.

  7. Wow! Very detailed travelogue Ami. Komodo seem scary but definetely would love to visit that national park if i get chance.

    • Thanks Ramya. They are scary but as long as you do not venture too close and stick to the instructions given by the ranger, you are safe!

  8. will love to visit the park, i am interested to see this reptile.
    i think you are a good runner otherwise hw could you take the risk to take selfie being so close the Dragons?
    Brave heart and mind.

    • Thanks Jyotirmoy. Like I mentioned, I am no where close to the dragon. You aren’t allowed that close. The picture is just a trick that the rangers use to take a photo of you standing behind the dragon. Nonetheless, it was an amazing experience

  9. Yogi Saraswat

    Looking Very dangerous reptile . How did you manage it ? very informative post Ami

    • Thanks Yogi. I was standing way behind the dragon with a ranger protecting me πŸ™‚ That is the only way to get yourself in the frame with the reptile. πŸ™‚

  10. Wow! I didn’t think it was even possible to get this close to a Komodo dragon! This is so cool! We will need to add this tour to our itinerary when we visit Indonesia. Thanks for the info!

    • Thanks Vanessa. Though like I mentioned earlier, you cannot get anywhere close to the beast. The closest is around 2 – 3 m with a ranger standing by your side and the Komodo facing the other way around. πŸ™‚ My pic has me no where close to the guy. Nonetheless, the visit to Komodo Island is just amazing. Definitely a must do if you are heading that way.

  11. Wow! Loved the detailed post, Amy. But I must tell you I’m scared of these things! πŸ™‚ You are very brave! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Vinitha. The dragons are fine as long as you leave them alone and follow the instructions of the ranger. I assure you that I was at least 2 – 3 m from the dragon when he was facing the otherway. πŸ™‚

  12. I would have been scared too. But since you are back without a scratch, I will take chances if I get the opportunity.
    btw the resting one looks kind of starved.

    • Thanks Indrani. It is not too bad once you stick to the rangers. And don’t go by the starved look. πŸ˜‰ they are deceiving.

  13. ajauntwithjoy

    This is an incredibly helpful post! I worked with a komodo dragon at a zoo and fell in love with the species! I’m a travel blogging wildlife biologist and I’ve always wanted to go here and see them or do my grad research on them! Thanks for the tips about this destination!

    • Thanks a ton. I am sure you will find them even more fascinating in their own lair. Be sure to tag me to your travel when you do!

  14. Cool photo! Good to know there are other things to do besides the dragons, there’s good reason to be afraid of them! Thanks for the tips

    • Thanks Mar. Yes, plenty to frightened of but as along as you follow the ranger and his instructions, you are safe!

  15. What an interesting and unusual trip! I find that I always learn something when I travel…and the best experiences are often those that are outside my comfort zone. While I might not go out of my way to search for Komodo dragons, your post will definitely help me to have an open mind should the opportunity arise!

    • Now that I have met them Mansi, I would say they are not bad πŸ˜€ Especially if you stick to the ranger’s instructions

  16. Oh wow! They’re HUGE. I had no idea they were that big. Sounds like a really cool adventure.

  17. I’m not so sure about this. Like you, I’m not very fond of reptiles. They scare the living shit out of me!! And they could eat up a deer, pigs AND EVEN HUMANS!? Well, indeed I’ll stick with the ranger like super glue.

  18. 2travellingsisters

    Wow, definitely takes immense courage to get close to these creatures, especially after knowing you can be a feast to the dragons. But then who wouldn’t love an adventure that you can proudly share with everyone. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post :).

  19. Amy, I am not a fan of reptiles either. I don’t like the way they look or taste! “Dragon Attack” is a Queen song!

  20. I do not like the slithering reptiles too, and I am afraid of being bite and killed by them, I admire your courage to overcome your fear and took pictures with komodo dragon. The close-up shot of the komodo dragon looks so good.

  21. What a tale! This is fabulous story with incredible information. Not to mention, what an incredible experience and triumph for you. Love your prose and look forward to reading more!

  22. I’m not such a fan of reptiles, and foremost, the Komodo dragons are one of the deadliest creatures on earth, so I’m so impressed! Taking a selfie with this animal is amazing! and You deserved it, since the journey you accomplished to catch him!

    • He he…thanks Liana. Though technically this is not a selfie and nor am I close to the beast, it still was amazing.

  23. You are so courageous for facing your fear! Yay! Bravo

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