Total cost to see rare Komodo dragons

After weeks of living in various locations on the island of Bali, Indonesia, we figured we’d like to see some other parts of the sprawling 17,000-island nation. We decided on a trip to see the Komodo dragons. Our last post outlined the overnight trip experience and trip cost. This post breaks down the total overall costs, including accommodations and airfare.

I had been watching airfare prices, and there was a sale. As early retired, budget, slow travelers, that is often what spurs us to select any destination.

The Komodo Islands are internationally known as the only place on the planet where Komodo Dragons – Earth’s largest lizards – live in the wild. The location is about an hours flight (or a day-and-half by bus/boat) east from Bali.

Komodo dragons start to fight on sand near steps to a bar on Komodo Island, Indonesia.
Komodo dragons start to fight on Komodo Island, Indonesia.

Of course, a trip to Komodo would mean expenses beyond the airfare. But since we were already so close to this unique place, we felt it would be unwise to skip it just to save a few hundred dollars. After all, the reason we are wandering about the globe is precisely to witness the most amazing and beautiful places on this wondrous planet. 

Advertisement

So off to Komodo we went. And we are sooooo glad we did. It was a tremendous experience that we would advise for anyone — especially if you find yourself in this part of the world to begin with, as we did.

Below is an exact breakdown of what it cost for two people to spend four nights in the far eastern islands of Indonesia including a 2-day, 1-night boat trip to see the carnivorous, monstrous Komodo dragons in their most natural habitat.

Total cost to see Komodo dragons

$237  round trip airfare to Labuan Bajo / Komodo airport (LBJ) from Bali (DSP)
$100  2-day/1-night boat trip (includes 4 meals) to 6 island locations (2 with dragons)
   + $71  total mandatory national park admissions & ranger guide fees
$92  Airbnb accommodations in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia (includes $10 Airbnb fee)
$78  restaurant food & drink in Labuan Bajo
$19  extra beer & sodas while on boat trip
$18  private car to Bali airport from Ubud, Indonesia home stay
$18  tips for Airbnb staff & drivers
$14  tip for tour boat crew
$11  prorated Indonesian visa cost (5 days)
$7  admission to Cermin Cave & park in Labuan Bajo
$5  miscellaneous
——————————–
$670 total for 2 people – 5 days / 4 nights

Advertisement
Two tour boats tied together while tourists are ashore to see Komodo dragons.
Komodo tour boats in the Flores Sea in Indonesia.

A few notes on the total:

-Labuan Bajo, is the start point of all organized boat excursions to the Komodo islands.
-Airfare from Bali to Labuan Bajo would normally be about $100 more.
-We could have saved $18 by checking out of our Labuan Bajo Airbnb for the boat night.
-We could have easily cut the restaurant and beer costs in half.
-Obviously, tips are optional – but they were all really nice Indonesian folks.

Staff at a hotel in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia smile and give peace sign for photo
Some of the local people we met in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia, on our trip to see Komodo dragons.

In all, we spent a total of $670 on the 5-day side trip from Bali to the Komodo Islands. Of course, as global vagabonds, we have lodging, food and daily living expenses no matter where we are in the world. And we can usually live comfortably for around $50 per day. Viewed that way, the Komodo trip added only about $400 in ‘extra’ costs – a pretty reasonable amount for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Labuan Bajo is the town where tourists seek out boat tours of the Komodo dragons and islands.
Labuan Bajo, Indonesia, where most Komodo tours originate.

As for seeing the dragons and the boat trip itself; we have a separate blog post – including amazing details and photos.

Finally, it should be noted that various conservation ideas are currently being weighed by the Indonesian government which could increase fees and/or severely restrict access to Komodo National Park beginning in 2020. Anyone planning a visit should seek out the latest information in this regard.

As always, happy trails & more beer!

Follow Earth Vagabonds: