Komodo to Lombok.
Post date: Sep 8, 2011 12:30:35 PM
We left Labuanbajo and headed for North Komodo hoping to see an infamous dragon. The scenery was stark but very spectacular. Very few trees grow on these islands. Only a few palm groves where there is a stream bed and mangroves around the ends of bays in the shallow muddy tidal flats. In this bay there were 2 moorings and we were lucky and early enough to pick up one of them. We went snorkelling around the reef and saw many wonderful fish amongst the beds of staghorn coral.
Late in the afternoon we took the dinghy ashore and walked up to the grasssland behind the beach in the hope of seeing a wild dragon. We saw deer on the hillside, evidence of wild pigs and monkeys but not a hint of a dragon.
The next morning we looked around the shoreline in the dinghy but only saw a few pigs rummaging around on the shore.
Maybe we are destined to not see dragons. . .
Next stop was Banta Island where we struggled with ugly currents for hours before finally arriving in a quiet, sheltered anchorage. We anchored in 18 metres and could see the anchor on the bottom. Again we went snorkelling around the reefs. Here all the coral was brown, but healthy living coral, all shades of brown and all shapes. It was unusual but quite beautiful.
Early the next morning we left he Komodo group and headed for our next overnight anchorage on Sumbawa.
Wera is where there is a local wooden boat-building industry. Two large wooden boats were being built on the shore using traditional boatbuilding techniques. It looked quite interesting but we were eager to get on our way.
The next leg was to Lombok, and would take over 24 hours. The trip was frustrating -wind up - sails set - engine off - wind dies - engine on - wind up from a different direction. This pattern lasted for most of the 36 hours we were at sea. As we were passing the north coast of Lombok we saw 2 yachts anchoring near the shore so we headed there too and anchored just on sunset – we weren't going to get to Medana Bay before dark. It was a rolly anchorage but not bad holding in a reasonable depth. The next morning we left early to sail the last 20 miles to Medana Bay Marina, picked up a mooring and hung about.
We took a short trip to the local market village by horse cart (cidomo) but beside this it feels like we are finally arriving in the 20th century as we move further west. The poor little pony was not used to two rather large white people in her little cart and struggled to trot, let alone canter which is what her handler would like her to do. She seemed very relieved for us to get off.
Lombok is very mountainous and has the 3rd highest mountain in Indonesia, Mt Rinjani. It is the second highest volcano at 3726m. Most of the island is covered in thick forest, much of which is being cleared for palm plantations to produce palm oil for biodiesel. There is a large city, Mataram, about 30km away from Medana Bay and nearby are the famous Gili islands. These are 3 small islands near the coast which are famous for their diving. Resorts have been established there to cater for the dive tourists.
We are now on Gili Air, one of the Gili Islands, doing an open water dive course. . .We are very excited about it.