Indonesia has been internationally well known as one of the top destination country for tourism. With the raising curve of both foreign and local visitors, the Indonesian government is continuously developing strategies and regulations to boost tourism. However, apart from the economic possibilities, tourism constitutes a threat to the local society’s cultural life and to the condition of the ecosystem. That is why the ecotourism concept is rapidly being developed in Indonesia to balance conservation and utilization in a sustainable way.
Ecotourism is different from the usual tourism as it promotes tourism in natural areas, involving and keeping the local community with a relatively smaller scale. Ecotourism is believed to have a way to balance local economy without damaging the natural ecosystem, local culture and the local people. It also offers unique experience to the travelers as they could deeply interact and learn from the local people.
Indonesia, with the gorgeous mountains, beautiful beaches, thick rainforests, amazing coral reefs and unique animal species, has a lot of ecotourism spots to offer to the world. One of them is the Komodo National Park.
Komodo, or the so called Komodo dragon, is the largest living species of lizard growing to an average length of 2 to 3 meters. These giant lizards exist nowhere else in the world except in Indonesia. Due to the size of the Komodo dragon, they are considered as predators, and they stalk and ambush their prey which are birds, invertebrates and mammals. Komodo Dragons hunt and survive in groups. Studies show that a bite from a Komodo dragon can pose a very serious problem. In Indonesia, there is an island where you can meet these dragons face-to-face. The place is called the Komodo National Park.
The Komodo National Park, located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores, is the last remaining natural habitat of 3000 Komodo dragons. This park is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sights, and it includes three major islands called Komodo, Rinca, and Padar. These islands are home for more than 1,000 species of fish, 260 species of reef-building coral, and 70 species of sponges. Sharks, manta rays, dugong, and more than 14 species of dolphins and sea turtles also inhabit Komodo National Park. This place is amazingly attractive for both foreign and local visitors.
There are several activities you can do on the Island. Diving, snorkeling, kayaking, walks – name it. They are certainly worth trying.
To reach the National Komodo Park, you can fly to “Komodo Airport” in Labuan Bajo, then take a boat to the Komodo Island. You will need to pay the entrance fee when you visit the Komodo National Park. You can pay at the office in Labuan Bajo or upon arrival at the parks’ offices. All fees are usually paid in Indonesian currency, so for foreign tourists, make sure you exchange your money first. There are several types of accommodation within Komodo National Park such as bungalows, diving liveaboards, and on private boat charters. You can never put up and stay inside tents, because these komodo dragons can simply enter your tents and potentially harm you. For this reason, it is not possible to do camping on the Komodo island. However, the most common option is to stay overnight in Labuan Bajo and join the day tours at the park.
Taking a walk in the land of the mighty komodo dragons might be thrilling, but it’s definitely a once- in- a- life- time experience. Do you dare to try?
By Ivana Monica Bing Sarah, ASEAN Correspondent from Indonesia