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- 25 May 2022, 3 nights
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The small fishing village of Labuan Bajo on the western tip of the island of Flores is famous for one especially ancient creature: the Komodo dragon. The nearby national park is where you'll see these modern-day dinosaurs, and when you're not meeting the neighbours, there are breathtaking beaches, hiking trails and world-class diving to keep you busy. Juxtaposed with the sparkling new marina and areas of speedy development, you can expect to find some dirt roads and villages with very basic amenities. All the better for an adventure.
Stay in a Labuan Bajo hostel perched high on a hill or right by the beach in the harbour. For ultra-modern facilities look for newly built hostels with fresh decor and air con, or seek out places with lush social gardens or an on-site bar where you can meet other travellers and share tips. You can find Labuan Bajo hostels that provide free breakfast, lunch and dinner and free Wi-Fi, and choose between dorms, private rooms and even pirate huts.
The neighbourhood of Badjo contains the historic harbour, which bustles with daily life. From here it's easy to get to the Komodo National Park, which spreads across the islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as a number of smaller islets. For the best dining in the area, head to Soekarno Hatta road, which runs along the coast. Nearby Padar Island is a great place for a day trip, with peaks to scale for a birds-eye view of the famously beautiful sunset.
The main attraction in Labuan Bajo is the Komodo National Park. This dual UNESCO site was founded in 1980 to protect the giant lizards and their habitat, and contains not only these prehistoric beasts, but also several native mammals, six species of whale, dolphins, dugongs and more than 100 types of fish. This abundant marine wildlife has earned the region its reputation as a world-class diving spot, suitable for experienced scuba divers and novice snorkellers alike. Visit between December and February for your best chance of seeing a manta ray.
Labuan Bajo's airport, Bandara Komodo, only receives flights from elsewhere in Indonesia, so you'll need to catch a connection if flying internationally. Once you've landed, the town is a 25-minute taxi ride away. From Ubud, Bali, you can take a bus and ferry trip to Lombok to Bima to Sape (about 18 hours) then catch a ferry to Bajo. To get around, rent an ojek (motorbike taxi) or hire a taxi van.