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Even considering the exceptional quality of the scuba diving around Komodo, it's definitely worth the experience to go ashore at the headquarters of Komodo National Park, as I did recently. Avoiding the heat we started just after dawn, and were rewarded with being the first group of tourists to arrive. A Park Ranger armed with a stout forked stick leading the way, we began a walk along one of the promising paths on the lookout for megapode birds, flying lizards, and of course Komodo Dragons. Within minutes we had spotted our first dragon, which rather than try to eat us, shuffled off into the heavy underbrush to avoid our attentions. After two hours of hiking, we found that the biggest dragons of the day were lolling around the Park Headquarters, with one ten-footer apparently content to live under the elevated cafeteria and gift shop. The more fearsome of the predators turned out to be the young salesmen back at the dock hawking dragon carvings, strings of local pearls, masks and such. You get a really cool souvenir from the source, while the locals gain a means of supporting themselves. So buy something!
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|