Safely in Flores after four days at sea, we’re currently unwinding at Laprima Hotel with a beautiful infinity pool overlooking the island-filled ocean. And no, it’s not our hotel (obvi) but they didn’t seem to mind when we walked in.
We arrived here after one of the infamous boat tours from Lombok. They are infamous because they aren’t exactly safe. Having read numerous accounts of engine troubles and even crashes, we were wary of making the journey over here. However, we desperately wanted to see to the Komodo Islands, home of the deadly Komodo Dragons. Our only other feasible option for getting here would have been to fly, but surprise surprise, Indonesian air travel is also notoriously unsafe. Okay, and slightly out of our budget.
We decided to book our trip with Kencana Tours, which offers a cheaper (and smaller) boat than Perama tours. We traveled with 19 other passengers, visiting numerous islands along the way, with all meals included. Many shops on Gili T sold these tours, and as always, we had to bargain. We paid $160 each, while other passengers paid $150-$190. People also bought beer, liquor and extra bottles of water through the company, however some seemed to disappear over the course of the trip, whether because there weren’t enough to begin with or because the crew had not ordered their own drinks.
Would we recommend this tour? Probably not. Don’t get us wrong, we had an amazing trip and likely would do it again, however we were also pretty lucky. The poor safety standards on the boats really make this trip a gamble. One of the other two boats in our fleet had engine trouble and ended up having to skip several of the islands, and as we mentioned earlier, crashes aren’t uncommon. If this type of trip appeals to you, make sure you do your research and ensure that there is an adequate amount of life jackets and a first aid kit on board.
After constantly going over-budget in Indonesia and splurging ($30) on hotels with real sheets and even AC, the boat trip was a bit of a reality check for us. We slept as a group, crammed onto the top deck of the boat with thin mattress pads and sheets. There was no shower, no sink and one toilet. We were all incredibly salty and pretty much now know how we look with dreadlocks.
The boat trip also wasn’t always smooth sailing. The first evening it stormed, causing our small boat to rock violently back and forth. We looked at each other as we sat on our damp mattresses, eyeing the five visible life jackets (the rest were “downstairs,” mmhmmm) and wondered if we had made a huge mistake.
Thankfully the sun came out the next morning, giving us beautiful weather for the rest of the trip. We also got the chance to take our sole shower that day under a waterfall on Moyo Island. Although the swim back to the boat quickly restored our salty dreadlocks.
All this, however, might now have guaranteed a successful journey if we hadn’t been with a great group of people. We grew to sort of love our eclectic group of cabin mates:
- Our ever-stressed guide with apparently zero math skills. He always needed help counting….
- A Swiss teenager bravely traveling alone (what were we even doing at 19!?)
- A Canadian celebrating his 365th day on the road.
- Another Canadian who just survived a potentially deadly jellyfish attack.
- Two Brits going on ten months traveling after having broken up around month four. Did we mention that they were some of the most genuinely nice people we’ve met?
- Two Ibiza residents who were probably unimpressed with our attempts at partying
- Seven very lively (and slightly pretentious) Dutch people who loved speaking Dutch.
- Two Italians named Matteo, who were making their way to China where they want to open a restaurant — Italian of course.
- Three beautiful Belgians.
- Four crew members/gourmet chefs.
- Can fall asleep anywhere. Literally.
- Survived four entire days without a mirror (you should have seen the reunion).
- At age 24 has become a religious wearer of sunblock.
- Can’t poop on a boat.
- Hair is slowly turning white from the sun.
- Definitely does not have rabies.