As we approached Komodo island a large cloud loomed over the peaks creating a layer of shadows across the bare savannah terrain. It’s interesting how dry the climate is on Komodo, Rinca, and Padar in comparison to the adjacent tropical wet rainforests of Labuan Bajo and Sumbawa. On Komodo it’s a constant struggle for the lone palms and sparse vegetation to survive in the dry heat. Most of the plant life lies in the lowlands, along the coast, and within mountain crevices where water flows down during the rains.
Nearer to the island the peaks seemed less ominous. The black shadows receded to uncover a mixed bright yellow and green savannah. Though dry, the coastal forest seemed lush from a distance, and we excitedly scanned the island for any wandering komodos.
Our first dragon was a spotted juvenile running around the tops of houses (post + video coming soon). Actually it was just above the green tarp in the picture above! Just a minute later an adult male komodo made its way right in front of us. He dragged his knuckles and moved his tail in a dinosaurian way, lumbering slowly while flickering his pale pink tongue repetitively. These giant lizards earned the island the maritime phrase “Here be dragons” — a caution for westerners voyaging to the island.