Komodo, by Karl Klingeler

The Seven Seas News - June 2015

Mission Impossible - Komodo National Park

By Nicholas Chan

Keeping two toddlers, five children of eight and under, a group of expert divers and others of varying competencies happily occupied and interested on a boat for eight days in the Komodo National Park would sound to most like a mission impossible to deliver. But deliver the Seven Seas did. In sand covered spades.

Jumping
Jumping

Led by the indefatigable and irrepressibly cheery duo of Karl Klingeler and Linda Johnston, Captain Wahyu sailed his ship through the spectacular dawns and dusks of a daily changing itinerary, that ultimately included Sebayor Kecil, Sebayor Point, Gili Lawa Laut, Batu Monco, Tatawa Besar, Kabaa Island, Padar, Loh Buaya and Strawberry Rock.

The diving was a highlight for many of us, including our two eight-year-old Bubblemakers. Each expedition was flawlessly briefed, well organised and expertly executed. From equipment loading to site travel, from entry to exit, our dive guides - Irwan and Jefri - and their accompanying boat crews ensured maximum enjoyment with optimum safety. Of the dives themselves, the variety and quality of marine and coral life was instantly enjoyable. The reefs were varied, healthy and colourful and their architecture housed an unimaginable selection of micro and macro sea life, fascinating both expert and novice alike (the frog fish were possibly the group favourites). Some of this was also evident on the snorkelling outings we enjoyed. In particular, our Bubblemakers were thrilled to have swum with a small pod of eight manta rays, who delighted them as they swam below them and breached the water…less so their absent and jealous parents.

Diving Komodo
Diving Komodo
 
Diving Komodo
Diving Komodo

Equal fun was to be had on land. Our guided walk to watch the Komodo dragons fighting over scraps of fish dropped by local fisherman was exciting, as was exploring and learning about their natural habitat. (Given that some of the children had been pulled out of school for our holiday - the educational element of our travels was a guiltily welcome bonus). The unguided hikes across the hills of Padar and Gili Lawa Darat were especially good opportunities to enjoy the perspectives of the bays and peaks of the islands within the park, and a welcome opportunity to walk off Widhi’s post-dive big breakfasts! The views were extraordinary, and well worth the effort.

In between these more strenuous activities, our crew managed to locate beautiful beaches on which we lolled, made sandcastles and watched suns set. We anchored off the perfect spot to kayak through the mangroves of Kabaa and to watch the evening exodus of countless fruit bats. Back onboard, jumping competitions quickly developed into a pre-prandial theme - from the deck, the prow and (for the less vertiginously affected) the roof. Every different day proved a great way to build up to a balmy dinner under starry skies.

Kayaking
Komodo Dragon
 
Komodo
Komodo

But beyond all of this, what was truly memorable was the care and thoughtfulness taken by the crew with respect to our wellbeing. From carrying toddlers, to topping up glasses, to ensuring clean masks and matching fins; from extending a helping hand out of the water or up a stony path, to sharing inspiring local and locale information, to dancing and singing with overexcited children after dinner; the crew of the Seven Seas were equal parts endearing and invaluable.

On which note - and we address this to Karl, Linda, Captains Wahyu and Rifal, Irwan, Jefri, Yosef, Budi, Imam, Radin, Big Jon, Sudirman, Ardy, Bakar, Widhi, Little Jon and Nico - each of you made this trip truly special, for each of us. And for that and your many other kindnesses, we thank you.

Nicholas Chan, June 2015

Komodo
Bats
 
Sunset
Sunset

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