My throat was parched and my breath, ragged. I trudged, unwillingly, for a few more steps uphill before I turned my back. And the view blossomed like a flower right before my eyes; four coves ringed with white beaches, cradling jade green waters within its embrace. Dividing them, a range of craggy peaks rose into a falsetto, their surfaces a grassland of dried bushes, golden brown against the lively greens of the sea, dotted with notes of green trees, here and there. I took in the fresh breeze, breathing it fully, savoring its fresh salty taste before letting Padar Island’s panorama take it all away again.
|PADAR ISLAND FROM THE BOAT|
I do not like hiking. And don’t even mention trekking. I’ve had my share of these activities when my waistline was several inches slimmer, and the only thing I got from it were cramps. Two-legged toe to thigh cramps on occasions. I cramp without provocation, and don’t tell me to eat bananas too; I already consulted a doctor about it and he says it’s all about water retention, or something to that effect.
|TREKKING ON PADAR ISLAND|
So, it was with trepidation when I saw that we were going for a bit of a hike along one of the main islands of the Komodo National Park; Padar Island, where once, komodo dragons also rule. No worries, they assured me, it’s only a 15-minute hike. I took note that it’s they used the word hike and not trek. Well, I can definitely handle this.
|WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE’RE GONNA CLIMB THAT?!|
But that was before our boat anchored at one of Padar’s cove and the island’s peaks loomed right over our heads. From our vantage, I can see ant-like people slowly inching their way down a 45-degree incline. What the bloody hack. Nobody told me it was gonna be this steep!
|THE CORAL BEACH|
But I could never back out now, can I? Not when all the girls were already scrambling out of the boat and jumping down into Padar’s coral beach. And so with extreme reluctance, I went out of the boat too, leaving my bag and bringing only the essentials with me—two cameras and two bottles of water.
|STARTING OUR HIKE WITH A 45-DEGREE INCLINE|
And so the trek started. The dirt trail, dry and dusty, was extremely slippery. The incline wasn’t helping either. I was panting as I crested the first rise. A small victory! I chugged on my water bottle to celebrate. I looked farther up and saw the trail snaking its merry way up and up and up, making me wish I didn’t drink so much.
|THE TRAIL IS ROCKY, DUSTY AND SLIPPERY|
I plodded on, taking it one step at a time, ignoring my leaner friends who were like kids running on a playground. This is definitely not my playground. I took another stop after a few minutes, planning to fake a photo break to take a few snaps of the view. And I was astounded.
|BUT THE VIEW IS DEFINITELY WORTH IT|
|ANOTHER BEACH AT THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISLAND|
Without my eyes trained on the ground, the view, even just a few minutes from the base of Padar Island was extremely stunning. On my right, the beach we docked on was a crescent of beauty and on my left, an inkling of another beach was slowly peeking into view.
|NOWHERE TO GO BUT UP|
I asked my left foot to move up, and then my right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Do. Not. Slip.
And somehow, I found myself almost halfway through the trail. Around me, everyone was taking selfies or having their photos taken with the background. And who could blame them? The view was getting better and better, the higher we went.
|NON-STOP PHOTO OPS|
I pushed myself for one last assault. Never taking my eyes off the slippery trail, and before I knew it, I was already at the first viewpoint. That said viewpoint, a mass of elevated sharp rocks shaded by a wisp of a tree. Most of my companions were already there, posing on an outcrop with a full panorama of Padar Island.
|AND THE VIEW GETS BETTER AS YOU GO HIGHER|
A few started going up the peak where another rocky viewpoint stands. They said that the view was even better up there. But I was just too bushed to take another freakin’ step upwards. I mean, it took me more than twice the time they said it would take to scale the island. Padar’s view was good enough for me at this junction. Heck, it was more than good enough.
|TAKING A REST AT THE FIRST VIEWPOINT|
We spent about half an hour beneath the tree. Chugging on our bottled water. Monkeying around. Taking photos. And taking more photos. We just can’t seem to get enough of the view. To be honest, I have seen nothing like it. Seven of Padar Island’s seventeen beaches divided by mountains, all in a single frame. It was the epitome of the word picture perfect. Like a postcard, a painting. Superlatives are not enough. It was simply magnificent.
|BUT GOING BACK DOWN IS INFINITELY HARDER THAN GOING UP|
And then it was the time I dreaded the most. It was time to go back down. Using that same slippery 45-degree trail. You cannot be serious. Bloody hell.
~ THE INDONESIA MINISTRY OF TOURISM INVITED ME AS A PART OF THE TRIP OF WONDERS TOUR. VIEWS, OPINIONS & BIASES, ALL MINE.
Komodo National Park
Address: West Manggarai Regency,
East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
Padar Island GPS Map: -8.552270, 119.474826