We went to this waterfall in Waru river by boat after seeing the so-called Riung komodo (previous tip). But it is cheaper to go there by ojek, just 10 km to the west on a well-paved road. The road leads to Damu village. In the village, just across the Waru river bridge, a sign points upstream to the waterfall, 3 km.
At this point we paid an entrance fee, Rp 25,000 per person without receipt. This we presume pays for the work of Pak Abdul Jalil, who cleared the path and made stairs and ladders where necessary. We met Pak Abdul half way to the fall, and although one can find the path by oneself, it was not a bad idea to have him as a guide. He pointed out the way to get down to the lower pools.
Of course there are lots of waterfalls all over Indonesia, every island promotes them as tourist attractions. How many does one want to see? Well, this one was worth visiting, because of the multiple steps and the peculiar limestone rock formations, like stalactites outside of a cave. We came here at the beginning of the dry season. Likely the water flow depends much on rainfall.
The one hour walk is not difficult, the path being mostly almost level. Only at the end one has to negotiate a steep climb, where Pak Abdul cut out some steps. And to reach the lower pools, one must go down a couple of primitive wooden ladders. One of the lower pools is sufficiently large and deep for a refreshing swim.
A half hour's boat trip takes you to Pulau Onteloe, better known as Bat Island, and by far the largest around Riung Bay. Your boat will approach the shore where hundreds of flying foxes roost in the mangroves during day-time. Here a small boat like Pak Duking's (see tip Hiring a Local Boat) is an advantage, because it can come in closer. But if you feel you are not yet close enough for making pictures, just get out of the boat and wade ashore through the water which is waist-deep at most.
That way we got to see the bats much more closely than during the Komodo tour. Of course when you come in the morning, the bats are resting. But your boatman will disturb them by clapping and shouting, and then it is quite an impressive sight to see them taking to the sky.
As the Lonely Planet Guide states that there are komodo dragons in the Riung area, we asked about them. Yes, said Pak Duking (see tip Hire a Local Boat), there are buaya darat ('land gators') kept in captivity in a village west of Riung. But he made a phone call to make sure they were there, as he had never been there yet.
It was a full two hour's boat journey to the village on Wai Tompong (Tompong river). It turned out that we were the very first tourists to visit. The villagers had recently been ordered by the government to keep these 'komodo's' as an additional tourist attraction. There are plans for a big cage and for improving the road. But so far the animals had only cost the village chickens and eggs to feed them. They had three juveniles in a wire cage in the village and outside the village a pair of adults on chains.
And are these komodo's? They are definitely of a different varanus species, riungensis as opposed to komodoensis. The riungensis is in size intermediate between the komodoensis and the common monitor lizard. It is also more colorful with greenish and reddish specks on its skin. Finally they are not as dangerous as the komodoensis, the juveniles even were handled as pets by the keepers. The bite of real komodo dragons is said to be poisonous even when they are young.
The varanus riungensis - locally named Mbou - reportedly lives in the wild on the Toropadang Peninsula and neighbouring coastal areas. If you are adventurous you may opt for a trekking tour on the peninsula. But if you want to be sure that you see the Riung dragons, better go to the village where they are kept. Inquire whether the road has been made yet; then you can forego the relatively expensive boat trip. But be prepared to pay a handsome donation to help the village pay for feeding the animals.
located at the back of the market (pasar), this restaurant cooks the best tuna steak i have ever eaten. we asked for tuna steak and the owner of the house started a bar-b-que for us using coconut shells. tuna was freshly caught in the afternoon and covered in a chilli sauce.
Favorite Dish: amazing - i didn't know tuna could taste like this