Day 3 (Part 1) – Climbing to the Padar Island peak

We woke at about 6:15am to prepare for our second day of island-hopping and exploring the smaller islands around Komodo National Park.

This time round, we remembered to bring along the breakfast that the caretaker prepared for us – a simple meal of banana pancakes which was pretty tasty!

Villa Seirama Alam offers complimentary breakfasts that start from 7am onwards and have a simple menu for you to choose from (e.g. omelette, pancakes, etc. If you do require breakfast to be served way earlier because you have to catch your tour group/boat, it can be arranged with the caretaker. The earliest they can do for you is 6am but it’s best confirm with them if you are having breakfast the day before so that they know to prepare breakfast for you!

The tour operator instructed us to be at his shopfront at 7am and once the rest of the group showed up, we would go as a group to the harbour to our designated tour boat. Being the anxious “I don’t want to be late and miss the entire tour because we already paid for it” duo we are, we did a brisk walk down to the operator’s store.

We arrived exactly at 7am but the kicker is that we were the ONLY people from the tour group that had arrived! Goodness!

To Padar or not to Padar

We then sat in the store to wait for the rest of the group to arrive. About 15 minutes passed and not one person from the group was seen.

While waiting, I had a chance to study the map that was plastered on the shop walls. “Pulau (island) Komodo… Rinca… PADAR”  Padar Island, one the major highlights of Komodo National Park was the ONLY notable island we were going to miss this trip (read: we would have to fly back again to Labuan Bajo to have another opportunity to visit Padar).

Earlier on, we organised our first day of island-hopping such that Padar Island was not included, as recommended by the guy who helped us organise it. We couldn’t shake the feeling that we would regret not giving Padar a visit since it’s one of the most commonly-photographed places in Komodo National Park. We were having major regrets and really, really, really wanted to explore it!

I turned to the operator and asked if we could “upgrade” our tour to a customised private tour so we could visit Rinca, Padar and Kelor Island instead of the group package that went to Rinca, Kelor and 2 other minor islands. After he made a few calls, he said yes! It was possible to do so but for about IDR 850,000 each on top of the IDR 350,000 we already paid.

I then turned to Dian and we hemmed and hawed for about 10 minutes mulling if it was worth paying the extra just to visit Padar. We had seen the nice photos of it online, but was it worth the extra cost?

We decided, screw it, it was now or never! We weren’t sure when we would visit the Komodo Islands again as we do want to eventually explore the rest of West Flores in the not-so near-future.

We paid the money and we were quickly ushered to our once again private boat!

In that entire span of time, not even a single soul from our tour group had showed up! I guess starting a tour late will eventually be something we have to accept when we are required to go on shared group tours. I wonder what happened to the group though. Did they get lost? Couldn’t wake up? Was there simply no one else?

Didn’t matter anyway, adventure awaits!

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I’ll never get sick (or seasick) of this view

En route to Padar Island

It takes about 2 hours to reach Padar Island from Labuan Bajo and with the entire boat to ourselves, we just laid back and enjoyed the fresh morning sea breeze and the beauty of the various minor islands that we passed.

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It’s a cosy and simple boat but 10/10 for makeshift loungers!
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Fishermen doing fishing things. They waved back at us so that’s nice

Padar Island is one of the three major islands of Komodo National Park but you won’t find any dragons here! Here you will find one of the most spectacular views Indonesia has to offer but you gotta take a hike! (Haha) (He made that same joke in the Aussie posts… -Dian)

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One of the crew taking in that view and informing us that Padar was right infront of us!
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On approach to disembark, looks like there are many more before us!

Upon landing on Padar, there is nothing but a small makeshift stall selling fresh coconuts and a flight of steps indicating the start of the hike.

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The start of the hike
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Stairs! I knew this hike was gonna be easy!

Hiking on Padar Island

The initial hike has a short section with man-made steps. After that, it’s a relatively tough but short hike filled with rocky dirt paths all the way to the top.

Since I also goofed and forgot to bring my DSLR charger for this trip. My first battery went flat on me the minute we landed on Padar. So with my only remaining fresh battery, I had to make it last and to select my shots carefully just in case I couldn’t find a replacement charger enroute to Cemoro Lawrang, Surabaya the next day. So I spent day 2 reading my histogram in the direct sun and -5 monitor brightness. Joy.

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The stairs end somewhere here, and the real hike begins!

What to bring for your hike on Padar Island

  • Water
  • Sunscreen – Ample amounts especially if you are attempting the hike late morning or in the afternoon as there is almost NO shade on Padar
  • Proper footwear – I would recommend hiking shoes for extra grip which will be very useful on the way down from the top. The hike is doable in sandals and slippers but has its caveats (I’ll talk about this as we go along in the post!)
  • A decent camera

The relatively short hike (depending on your fitness) to the first viewpoint of Padar can be described as rocky and dusty. As we made our way up to the first major viewpoint, there were plenty of beautiful photo opportunities of the islands’ three beaches. The view gets gradually better as you ascend.

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Just look at those waters! Beautiful
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Believe us, the incline gets harder and steeper

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About halfway into the hike, the incline gets quite steep and the path gets narrower especially when you approach the first viewpoint. Careful climbing is needed as there are areas where the rocks and gravel are loose. Use rock formations and sturdy branches for support and always watch where you step! It’s a looooooong way down! Eek.

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Not pictured on the right: Steep drop off that will REALLY make you want to stick to the left more

When we finally reached the first viewpoint, this was the view that greeted us:

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Spectacular

Just simply amazing really. It felt like we were transported to another world where nothing but beautiful postcard worthy islands existed. Pictures will never do a place like this justice. You HAVE to be there to truly take in the scale and beauty of this place.

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In total, the hike to the viewpoint took 45 minutes, but the hike doesn’t stop here per se. Dian stayed behind while I continued on to the very top to see if the view of the island was better. It wasn’t, because the centre portion of the island was blocked by the trees below. However, there was a better view of Komodo, Rinca and some of the minor islands surrounding Padar. We both agree that the first viewpoint gives the best views of Padar itself.

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As you can see, the top doesn’t really have that million dollar view compared to the first viewpoint!

While it was relatively tough climbing Padar, getting down is tougher. I mentioned earlier in the post that wearing sandals and flip flops has its downsides and all of it came to light when we began our descent down back to our boat. The soles of our footwear had little to no grooves which provided little grip on the terrain which in some areas were slippery due to loose rock which resulted in us having mini slips here and there and near misses and as a result, the descent took longer than the actual ascent.

Wearing hiking boots/shoes would have made the hike significantly easier. However, our boat had to disembark us some distance from shore and we had to walk to the island in slightly below knee level water. So unless you are ready to hike with wet shoes or to pack a pair in your bag, sandals or flip flops are the easiest option but be prepared for the tough climb!

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It is actually way steeper than the photo makes it!
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One of the few said slippery sections. It was so slippery that I had to stow my camera away and focus on not falling or off the cliff on the left!
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Almost there….
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What a relief to finally see man made stairs and our boat!

Palms sweaty, mom’s spaghetti

If you have a fear of heights or have vertigo, hiking Padar may not be for you as there are sections of the climb that require climbing at great heights and narrow paths that have drop offs on either side!

(I am scared of heights but this wasn’t too scary for me. It will depend on you and how bad your fear is -Dian)

What a relief when we finally made it back to the boat. With that, it was time to head off to Rinca Island!

Was Padar Island worth it?

LOOK AT THIS AGAIN

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YES YES YES AND YES. It was absolutely worth forking out the extra cash for a view like this.

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If you enjoy hiking and photography, Padar is a MUST see destination and if your tour package offers a minor island over this, choose Padar. It truly lives up to its hype and the views you get from the top is absolutely breathtaking (literally and figuratively). We’re so glad we didn’t listen to the fellow who told us to give Padar a miss.

It is a tiring but short climb to the top and harder when descending. You don’t have to be super fit to climb Padar but it certainly helps! Always stay safe and climb/descend slowly.

Stay tuned for Rinca and Kelor island in the next post and do follow our blog for updates!

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