Komodo: Island of Dragons

We were very lucky to visit this port of call, as not many people get to come here and say they’ve seen Komodo Dragons in the wild. There are such rigid restrictions here that you can’t even go ashore unless you are on a tour with one of the local park guides. The entirety of Komodo Island is a national park, and there’s really not much there at all as far as cars and buildings go. In fact I didn’t see either of these when we were there. When you arrive on shore, there is just a covered tent where the guides meet you to take you on a hike through their dragon-filled forest. The other crazy thing is that you’re not allowed on the island if you have any open wounds or if you’re a woman who has her period because the dragons have that keen of a sense of smell. Yikes!

The ship anchored off shore and we took tender boats in to meet our guides. They organized us into smaller groups and led is into the jungle in search of some dragons. During our hike, we saw several Komodo Dragons, and they sure are huge. They can measure up to 11 feel long and weigh up to 300 pounds, making them the largest lizard in the world. They can also run as fast as a dog and have the ability to bite a goat in half. As you can imagine, we stayed behind the guides during this trip!

 2014_02_24_200014_Komodo Island_0033

2014_02_24_202515_Komodo Island_0074

2014_02_24_202533_Komodo Island_0085

2014_02_24_202548_Komodo Island_0089

2014_02_24_203123_Komodo Island_0143

2014_02_24_210741_Komodo Island_0191-Edit

2014_02_24_193615_Komodo Island_0021

2014_02_24_204443_Komodo Island_0176

2014_02_24_204838_Komodo Island_0181

After our hike, we had to head right back to the ship, which wasn’t bad because we could enjoy the stunning view of the island from out on the water. After leaving Komodo, we headed toward the Indonesian island of Lombok, which is Bali’s next door neighbor. More to come!

Port #2: Madeira

After we boarded the Crystal Serenity in Lisbon, we eventually set sail for Madeira, which is about 500 miles south of the mainland of Portugal. Madeira is known for its relaxed way of life and of course, its famous port wine. It took two days of cruising before we arrived at the port in Funchal, which is the main town on the southern coast of the island. We did an excursion in  Madeira, which is a tour that’s organized by the cruise ship. Over the course of our trip, we tried to choose excursions that looked the most photographically promising. Our day started with a cable car ride up a large hill to a historic church that looked over the town of Funchal. Then we got to go on toboggan rides, Madeira style, in order to get down the hill. This sounds nuts, but the “toboggans” are essentially large baskets with seats in them. There are ropes attached to either side and your two “pilots” run along side the toboggan, steering you down the street with these ropes. We then spent an hour touring one of the island’s botanical gardens and finally ended up at a winery in town to taste some of Madeira’s famous port. After all this, we still had time to walk around town, exploring and shooting. As with all of these cruise port posts, I’d rather give you more visuals and less text to describe the experiences, so below are a bunch of photos I shot in Madeira. Above is a video that Karen made documenting our day. To see her blog post on Madeira, click HERE.

Next stop: Lanzarote! More to come…