Komodo National Park, Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia
© Thrithot/Adobe Stoc
Here be dragons
Welcome to Komodo National Park, founded in 1980 as a haven for the Komodo dragon, the world’s largest living lizard. Komodos are a type of monitor lizard - large reptiles with long necks and powerful tails and claws. But the Komodo evolved in this insular environment in Indonesia to be much larger than its fellows and can reach up to 10ft (3m) in length and about 21 stone (135kg) in weight.
Found only on the islands we see here, Komodo and Padar, and a handful of others nearby, adult Komodo dragons prey on Timor deer and can be spotted going full pelt after their would-be dinner, at speeds of up to 13mph. Komodo National Park, which covers 29 islands in the Lesser Sunda Islands archipelago, was established by the Indonesian government to protect the Komodo dragon and is a Unesco World Heritage Site. It’s not just the Komodo dragon that calls it home. Those turquoise waters are also one of the world’s top scuba diving sites, with more than 1,000 species of tropical fish.