Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text:
The pretty little red and white two-master you see on the video is my new princess boat, the Duyung Baru. I opted, like six years ago, for a small pinisi (a traditional Indonesian boat), all comfort... I embarked with five other divers, for a one week cruise (another solo trip where I never lacked company). Great boat, nice international atmosphere (Germans, Finns, Indonesians, Australians and me, the little French girl), I came back delighted...
In the incredibly fishy waters of the Komodo archipelago, you can observe manta rays from very close, whether you are a simple swimmer with fins, mask and snorkel, or a scuba diver or snorkeler (more underwater pictures to come in a next special manta post)... You can see them well in the drone's video: they are the black diamonds that are outcropping at the surface, around the dinghy!
The images taken from above show the typical landscape of the archipelago: steep hills covered with savannah, which drop down to white sandy beaches and azure waters, where coral outcrops. The vegetation shows that the climate here is much drier than in other parts of Indonesia.
Even if the archipelago has become quite touristy, one really has a very exhilarating feeling of being at the end of the world when sailing in this intense blue sea dotted with deserted and wild, rather preserved islands. Komodo is a national park, registered on the Unesco World Heritage List and Biosphere Reserves.
How do I get to Komodo? The region is very easy to access from Bali : there are many daily flights to Labuan Bajothe port located on the western end of the island of Flores, just in front of the archipelago. The duration of the flight is about one hour. I prefer to fly with the following companies Garuda and Lion Air / Wings (schedules and rates are on their websites). Update (October 2016): since Jakarta, there is now a direct flight Garuda for Labuan Bajo !
Komodo belongs to another world, almost a lost world. Located at the junction of two continental plates, the archipelago is on a volcanic "belt of fire" between Asia and Australia. Unique terrestrial and marine ecosystems have developed there, and one can find species that exist nowhere else!
The most famous one, you may know it: it is the Komodo dragonTourists are allowed to disembark on the islands of Rinca and Komodo to observe them, accompanied by rangers now wearing a jacket with the words "Naturalist Guide" on the back.
Rinca (pronounced "rine-tcha") really has a little side to it Jurassic Park. Listening only to my courage, I left the mantas and the sharks for a few hours to go back to the dragons - old friends, to whom I already went to say hello in 2011... ????
Komodo dragons are very impressive, especially if you are lucky enough to meet some during the trek on the island (and not sleeping near the rangers' garbage cans). But I confess, it is still the creatures that live in the sea water that I prefer to admire and photograph...
The adventurers of the lost path
To conclude this little overview above the surface (while waiting for the underwater images), I leave you with some images of another island, the very photogenic Gili Lawa Darat. It is the one we see at the end of the drone video, with our little group of divers at the top of the high hill overhanging the bay.
What the video doesn't show is what happens next... Playing drone pilot in beautiful landscapes in broad daylight is one thing. Navigating a deserted island at night is another.
With the other two girls and one of the guys, we left the other boys at the top of the hill with their equipment, because they wanted to stay photographing the sumptuous night sky (I put you above a photo posted on Facebook by Christoph).
Because of a bad choice of path, our panoramic climb turned into an interminable jungle expedition... Yes, Indiana Jones style, in an impassable bush - in shorts, canvas sneakers and flip-flops, of course - by the light of two headlamps and an iPhone flashlight !
I renamed us "The Adventurers of the Lost Trail"... 😂
We finally managed to reach the beach, without breaking. Fortunately that there were no dragons on this island... We would have been probably less intrepid.