Travel Story The dragon guards a hidden jewel

DAVID BAKER gets up close with the world's biggest lizard

“Japan? China? Somewhere in South East Asia? Haven’t a clue … could be Katanning for all I know.”

As I prepare for a trip to see the Komodo dragon in its natural habitat I’m intrigued to find out if friends have any idea where this prehistoric lizard calls home.

Needless to say, they don’t.

The answer, of course, is Indonesia.

More specifically, they live on a handful of islands in Komodo National Park, which sits in the East Nusa Tenggara region of the Asian archipelago.

And what’s more, they’re surprisingly easy to get to.

We take the well-worn route from Perth to Denpasar before boarding an 80-minute flight to Labuan Bajo.

The small city on the west coast of the island of Flores is the natural gateway to the national park, and while its airport only serves international travellers from Singapore, more and more domestic routes are opening up.

While we spend little time in Labuan itself, my immediate impression of the port city is that it has a touch of Seminyak about it ... but 20 years ago.

It’s little surprise it doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of Bali’s tourist traps and that it appears to be held back as Indonesia’s hidden gem.

Read the full story, and more, at thewest.com.au

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