Picture this, you’re sitting aboard a large wooden sailboat, laid back on a mattress beneath a thin canopy shielding the slowly warming sky. It’s early, so early the sun is only just starting to peak over the nearby mountains and you’re cruising.
The water is silently splitting beneath the ships bow and there isn’t a sound along the horizon except for the occasional faint bird. And where are we going? We’re sailing through Komodo National Park towards the greatest hike I’ve ever done – to Pulau Padar!
The journey wasn’t an easy one. With limited time, we wanted to fit as much of Komodo National Park into one day as we could. It started at 3:30am, I was gifted with a little extra sleep as everyone else was bothered by a 3am wake up call. By 4am I made my way down to the lobby to meet everyone, surprisingly chipper for the time of day, but everyone else was already napping.
We made our way to our temporary home, a liveaboard phinisi schooner, a sailboat made almost entirely out of wood. Some of us napped below deck in the bedrooms, and the others slept beneath the gleaming milky way. We set our alarms for sunrise and then helped ourselves to a full feast for breakfast – provided by the on-board chef.
It took a few hours to get to Pulau Padar, (also known as Padar Island) from Labuan Bajo, but we didn’t mind the distance. We liked taking our time, and the hotter it got the more we wanted to stop anywhere and anchor just to swim around. Part of the reason we left so early was so that we could do the hike before the heat of midday completely took over.
As we cruised toward the island we noticed there were more people than we expected for such an isolated spot, but it wasn’t crowded. Rubbish was collected on the beach, which was great to see around here, and we started at the steps towards the summit trail. I noticed there were a few different treks you could do, though we went for the better known one with the best view of the islands four branches and seven beaches.
The trail was short, about 20minutes to the top, but with the heat it took longer as we kept to our own paces and slowed down in the shade. The trail was quite slippery with scree so I would recommend suitable shoes.
Once we got to the top there was a large open field of space, and above that the trail continued to overlook the other side. The view was amazing; unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I could see each branch of the island reaching out in every direction, and the shorelines of each beach. I’ll let these pictures do the talking…
There isn’t much wildlife besides the sealife, so snorkelling and diving is an option almost anywhere. Komodo Dragons used to inhabit the island, but scarcity of food drove them away. While in the area it is worth visiting Komodo Island, home to the beasts, and the famous Pink Beach that is known for it’s pink tinted sand created by the red coral that washes up.
How to get there;
The best way to get into Komodo National Park is to fly from any major airport to Labuan Bajo and from there the park is only accessible by water.
What to bring;
We were only on the phinisi schooner for one extended day, but more than one pair of clothes was necessary due to the heat. Layers and layers of sunscreen was a MUST especially with all of the swimming and sweating, and bug spray was recommended on some island stops. Towels and meals were provided, and the boat had all of the necessary amenities that we are used to; beds, hot showers, provided meals, endless food and chilled drinks, sunbeds and beanbags on various decks.