Rinca

The first really impressive stop is the island Rinca, which is separated from Flores by a narrow sea canal. The coast is on many places densely covered by mangrove, which create a scary maze of stilt-like roots. It is very interesting to do some snorkelling here during the flood-tide. A numerous colony of flying foxes´ nests in one part of the mangrove growth. They fly out in search of food to the Flores island after the sunset and come back at the dawn. There is also a small fishing village of the Bajo tribe on the island. During coming into the bay, where there is an entry to the land part of the national park, the natives will often welcome you selling carved dragons and pearls. They got used to tourist expeditions, which come here to see the Komodo dragon. Luckily, these tourists are not very adventure loving and demanding. Their trips end at the station with overfed reptiles, or they take the shortest and least interesting trip. The fitter ones take a medium trek, where they have a chance to see the dragons and buffalos in the nature.

Let us leave the standard tourist routes and guaranteed “adventure” offers and let us take a beautiful trip to Komodo dragons, buffalos, macaques, deer and wild pigs. After leaving the premises of the station, you will get over an easy hill and then get a beautiful view to the whole bay and the surroundings. In the dry season, the savannah is burnt by sun and shines with golden hues. To the contrary, in the rain season, which is from December to April, it is a vivid green carpet of grass with Iontar palms. Deer and pigs often hide in bushes, while macaques prefer the shade of monsoon forests in valleys. Buffalos are tramps of the local savannas and you can see them not only in valleys of streams, but also on edges and tops of hills, where they graze. With a bit of luck, wild horses will appear on the horizon. During wandering on grassy hills and edges, you will suddenly become aware of the large stretch of the island and of the luck needed to meet its king – the Komodo dragon. The longest, most demanding, but also the most beautiful ten kilometres long route on edges, tops and valleys significantly improves this chance. When a huge, three meters long, dragon is walking towards you in the parched grass, showing no respect to a man with no intention to change its course, then it is quite clear, who will loose. It has not only the advantage of its size and primeval looks, but also a very effective weapon of deadly bacteria in its salivating mouth. A bite from the dragon means a quick inflammation of the wound and fatal immedicable injuries and blood poisoning, which end in a slow death in fever and agony. The length of such suffering depends on the size and weight of the prey.

For huge buffalos, the largest animal of the archipelago, it takes around three weeks. During this time, dragons check their prey and in a moment, when the poor animal searches a cooling bath of a sump, the pack of dragons starts to gather upon the animal, which they attack as soon as it is not capable of fighting back. The attack is absolutely devastating with reptiles tearing off large pieces of meat, which they literally cut off by their saw-like teeth and jerking movements of their heads and whole bodies. A grown-up male can gobble up around 50 kilos of meat in one go. These dragons eat not only soft tissues, they will also stuff themselves with legs with hoofs, which they cram to their throats in such a way, that you would think they must suffocate. During feeding dragons climb on the top of each other, stepping on each others´ heads and care about nothing in their surroundings. It is a breathtaking and drastic sight, when a bloodthirsty pack of these dinosaurs is portioning a huge buffalo, which is literally disappearing in front of your eyes and during two days, there will be nothing left but its skull and a part of its thorax. After such feast, dragons will crawl to the shade of trees and bushes, where they will digest several days or weeks. What they will not digest, they will vomit out. This appalling scene belongs to the most fantastic experience, which a man can see in his life, but it is not for weaklings

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