Skip to Content

Here be dragons: How to see The Komodo Dragons of Komodo National Park

The one thing I was really stoked about visiting Flores and Komodo Island in Indonesia was the chance to see the famous Komodo Dragons in the wild. These large lizards are one of the main reasons people visit the Komodo Islands in the first place. Here’s a bit about how to visit the Komodo Dragons and what my experience finally getting to see these rare beasts in their natural habitat was like.

What’s so special about Komodo Dragons?

Komodo Loh Liang Hitomi Dragon
Crikey~ What is the big deal about these lizards anyway?
  • They are DRAGONS, duh of course they are cool. Well, they’re not really dragons, but they are the largest lizard species and can grow up to 3m in length and weigh up to 150kg, which is pretty impressive
  • Komodo Dragons are really rare – the only place in the world you can only find them is here in Komodo National Park. There are about 4,000 of them and they are pretty endangered
  • Komodo National Park was chosen as one of the new 7 wonders of nature back in 2011. Tick that off your bucket list!

Where to find Komodo Dragons

Komodo Loh Liang Entrance Sign
Welcome to Komodo National Park! That stick you see to the left is an essential tool you need on this trail…

There are two spots that you can visit in Komodo National Park to see Komodo Dragons: Loh Liang on Komodo Island or Loh Buaya on the smaller Rinca Island. Komodo Dragons can swim though so there is a very, very small chance you might come across them randomly on other islands (Keep your distance if you do! more about that below).

Read more about my 4D3N itinerary to exploring Komodo and Flores.

Komodo Loh Liang Billboard
I saw this billboard while on the trek, and the random Komodo dragon on top of Padar Island where we were just hours before… well let’s just hope that it doesn’t actually happen to anyone (I honestly don’t think the komodo dragons are gonna hike up those sandy slopes though, so don’t worry)

What to expect from your Komodo Dragon experience

Komodo Loh Liang Trek Map
Introduction and safety briefing from the guides – pay attention because Komodo Dragons can be dangerous and these are the people who will keep you out of trouble

I visited Loh Liang in Komodo Island where we had several trek options in the park – we took the short trek on a forest pathway shaded by trees. Overall it’s a fairly easy walk, flat though super humid given that you’re in the forest. Spray some mosquito repellent beforehand to keep the bugs away!

Komodo Loh Liang Waterhole
A rather dry waterhole with no Komodo dragons :(

Like safaris or any sort of animal watching trek, there is no guarantee you will see the Komodo Dragons – things seemed a little dire at first with no sightings at all in the first half of our walk, not even at the waterhole which they tend to frequent. Thankfully, it turned out that they were all hanging out near the restaurant and retail outlet area.

Komodo Loh Liang Dragon Front
Look at these lazy lizards just sprawled on the ground – there were 4 or 5 in this area

The touristy thing to do of course is to take the ‘I’m petting the Komodo Dragon’ shot by creeping up to a (safe) distance behind a lazing Komodo dragon and extending your hand forward while relying on your photographer to angle your shot such that it looks like you are touching the Komodo.

Komodo Loh Liang Hitomi Dragon Touch
Travel Twin Hitomi giving the lizard a soft ‘touch’

For wildlife lovers, look out for other animals in the park – avid birdwatcher David from MalaysiaAsia was very pleased with the birdwatching here, and we spotted other animals like deer and wild boar wandering around, though the latter is put there as food for the Komodos, so I’d be wary of hanging out too close to them!

Komodo Loh Liang Deer
Random deer wandering around the island destined to be lizard dinner!

Our group took about 2 hours from start to end including photo-taking time. You could take the longer treks where you can climb a hill for a viewpoint of the island and its surroundings, and hopefully have more chance to see Komodo Dragons as you venture deeper into the forest.

Safety note: Keep your distance

More fun facts for you: Komodo dragons are DANGEROUS and they really like meat. They camouflage pretty well and look a lot like fallen logs on the forest floor so you are liable to just overlook them if you aren’t paying close attention. While they look like lazy logs just lying around, those beady eyes are keeping a close eye on you. It’s all a part of their ploy to lull you, their prey, into a false sense of security – their innocuous facade disguises their ability to move really fast over short distances, so before you know it, they have their teeth or claws sunk into you.

Komodo Loh Liang Dragon Back
Ladida look at me, fat and lazy, come closer my sweet prey!

And even if you somehow escape their clutches, their saliva is so filthy and bacteria laden that it works like venom – you might still die from blood poisoning. In the wild, Komodo dragons often just wait for their bitten prey to succumb to bite wounds before moving in for the feast.

Komodo Loh Liang Tourists
Safety in numbers – there are quite a number of tourists around but still, stay a healthy distance away

Komodo National Park is not a zoo – there are no barriers or fences in the park. The only protection you have are your trusty guides with their long sticks who know how to distract Komodo Dragons accordingly, so stick close and listen to them and don’t even think about wandering off on your own. People have died doing just that! And also, if you have any open wounds or are a woman on your period, alert the guides so that they can keep a closer eye on you – Komodo dragons have a keen sense of smell and are always on the scent for blood.

How to escape a rampaging Komodo Dragon

Should a Komodo Dragon decide to attack you despite all the efforts of the guides, don’t even try fighting it. Run like hell and try not to get bitten. Here’s hoping you will never have to follow these tips, but here’s what we were told:

  • Run in a zigzag pattern: Komodo dragons sprint fast but their bulk means its hard for them to change direction. I think my netball training will really pay off here
  • Climb a tree: young Komodo dragons live and hide in trees to escape the cannibalistic older ones who are trying to eat them, so follow their cue and scramble up a tree if you get chased

How much does it cost to see Komodo Dragons

The easiest way to see the dragons is to join a boat day tour from Labuan Bajo. There are a whole bunch of fees you need to pay for this rare opportunity though, so if you’d rather not worry too much about the nitty gritty:

  • National Park Fee: mon-sat – 150,000 IDR/person/day (S$16) or sun – 225,000 IDR/person/day (S$24) – Indonesians pay 5,000 IDR/day
  • Area Tax: 50,000 IDR/person/day
  • Guide Fee: 80,000 IDR per guide – each group of around 5 people needs at least 1 guide

In short, that works out to 280,000 IDR on a weekday or 335,000 IDR on a Sunday just to enter the park. Note that this doesn’t include any additional tour fees you have to pay if you are going with a day tour – make sure you check with the tour organiser on whether their tours include these fees so you don’t get surprised by additional charges.

Other activities also require an extra fee:

  • Diving: 25,000 IDR/person/day
  • Snorkeling: 15,000 IDR/person/day

Happy Komodo Dragon hunting! Do share your experience here if you have already seen these magnificent creatures.

Pin it: How to find Komodo Dragons

If you want to explore other parts of Flores beyond Komodo National Park, check out this post for more about my trip, including details of how to get to Flores from Singapore, or see all my posts about Flores.

Big thanks again to Skyscanner for organising and sponsoring this experience.

Maika Komodo Tours

Sunday 20th of February 2022

Great information! I really enjoyed reading it. If by chance you ever come back, please look us up and we can schedule a boat tour for you and maybe see some places you did not get to see last time! thank you!

Jaclynn Seah

Sunday 20th of February 2022

thank you and I hope to be able to go back there soon!

Ami Bhat

Tuesday 11th of October 2016

Yes, do not mess with these guys!! Nice one Jaclynn. Loved seeing these rare creatures with you and the rest of the team

Jaclynn Seah

Wednesday 12th of October 2016

Thanks Ami! But yeah it was pretty cool seeing them just lumbering around... I read another account online where people actually had to make a run for it... I"m glad we didn't have to!