Tuesday, 18 February 2014

 We then headed for the boat where once again there was food waiting, these guys sure hated to see us go hungry.  They had rescued the boat and now we were off to swim with Manta Rays, a first for me.  

With Komodo and Rinca behind us we were off to a prime Manta ground where a lot of tour boats end up, but it is up to the skipper whether or not you can go in, the currents here are notoriously dangerous.
A couple of Mantas are spotted and we circle around for a while, I think we end up spending a good half an hour just going round before the skipper makes the call that we can jump in. 

Nobody else is really very experienced and they are hesitant in the conditions so I jump in solo and chase after the 2 big Mantas taking off into the distance.  It is an incredible feeling being so close to these majestic rays, swimming side by side with such an impressive creature, easily one of the coolest experiences I have had. 
I continue to chase them around as I spot them, there are plenty here, though a few times I end up a lot further from the boat than I would have liked, but it’s all good and after an hour or more it is time to head off to our next stop, Bidadari Island.  

The wind has picked up and the seas are becoming a little rougher, nothing drastic, just enough to make it uncomfortable for all the landlubbers on board!  As usual the boys have been cooking something up and we all dig into another delicious spread while we are underway to Bidadari.
We throw anchor at a small but nice little bay where a few other boats are already parked and herding their tourists off to go snorkelling.  It is not a bad little snorkel, some very shallow reef that drops off to about 40 feet and more further out. 

It’s a nice beach though and there is some accommodation on the island also.  Another hour or so here before we are all back on board with a few more snacks as we make the short journey back into Labuan Bajo.
It had been an awesome trip, I absolutely loved it and felt it was easily worth the $75.  We had camped on deck under a magnificent starlit sky, surrounded by pure nature.  We had eaten fresh, delicious, abundant food the whole way, explored islands, snorkelled and hiked. 

We had ran the boat aground, witnessed the fury of nature firsthand as a pack of Komodo Dragons greedily engulfed a wild pig and then swam with Manta Rays all in a single day!  Do not miss a trip to the amazing Komodo National Park.
Manta's at play