Labuan Bajo: The Entrance Path to Komodo National Park

July 10, 2011 No Comments » – Labuan Bajo, a place sounds to the world nowadays. Its name attracts the tourists to come over and enjoy the beauty of its underwater nature, as well as to visit the islands within reach, inhabited by the komodo population. This time, I would love to put in the picture the beauty of the coastal cities which path the way to enter the Komodo National Park.

Located at the west corner of Flores Island, Labuan Bajo has been used as the main entrance to Komodo National Park, which consists of Rinca Island, Komodo Island and Padar Island. Allegedly, about 2.500 komodo are living on those three islands.

This capital of Manggarai Barat has evolved to be a tourist destination filled with home-stay hotels, resorts and dive resorts. There are many expatriates living in this city and they own properties and/or tourism operator companies.

I visited Labuan Bajo by Perama commuter boat departed from Lombok to Labuan Bajo. When I arrived, the atmosphere of the city was not so crowded. Perhaps the reason was because I was not coming in the holiday season that time. With my head still rocking from the waves of the sea, I carried my backpack and walked down the harbor along with my new friends on the boat from France, England and Denmark. Talking about Labuan Bajo, it derives from the word “labuan” which means a sojourn and the word “bajo”, the name of the sea nomads from Sulawesi, which reputedly known as the early immigrants in this city.

The sun was up when I turned my step entering a tribal village of Bajo, which was dubbed as Kampung Air (“Water Village”). The friendly society there made my friends and me feel at home being in this city. Several youth were greeting us nicely while the mothers were throwing smiles to us from their houses’ front. It was such a warm welcome from the sea nomads. This was the first time for my foreign friends to see lots of timber boats berthing. Not less than 200 boats from various kinds moored, started from small rowing boats, speedboats, fishing charts up to the freighters. Not to mention the floating yachts in various sizes.

Nonetheless, the houses of the immigrants still characterize the regions of their origins. I left Kampung Air to find a hotel and to take off the fatigue. Apparently, it was quite simple to get a hotel in low season. Yet, I have already been recommended on a certain hotel owned by my friend’s grandfather in Bali. Hence, with confidence steps, I entered the hotel and showed the text message from the owner and immediately we were given a room and free extra beds for a week. Super!

This condition might not happen if I came to this city in peak season. Finding a hotel in Labuan Bajo at peak season will be as similar as in Gili Trawangan at its peak season. It’s hard! Perhaps it is still feasible to get, yet the price would have been at its peak as well. First day in the city, we took rest in the hotel, charging our energy up. Nevertheless, for the rest of the following days, the hotel room was nothing but a place to put things and take rest only. We used most of the time to do diving, trekking and other activities that will be regrettable to be missed out.

Getting there
Labung Bajo is an entrance gate to reach Komodo National Park. Merpati Nusantara are in fact serving the flight to Labuhan Bajo, however they do not have a fixed schedule yet. Another available airlines are Batavia Air (1.010.000 IDR to 2.014.000 IDR), TransNusa (1.274.000 IDR to 2.000.000 IDR) and Lion Air (1.200.000 IDR to 2.500.000 IDR) which take the flight from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo – all prices are for commuted flight. The alternative for flight would be by ferryboat from Lombok. If you are wild about scuba diving, want to see great spots and haven’t tried yet, I recommend you to pick a liveaboard.

Explore Komodo National Park & Happy Green Travels!

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images courtesy of Matthew Crompton

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