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One of the highlights of traveling in Indonesia is a multi-day trek up Gunung Rinjani on the island of Lombok. Towering at 3,726 meters (12,224 ft), this active volcano is the 2nd tallest in all of Indonesia. Trekking trips range from 2-5 days and go all the way to the summit or just to the crater rim if you’re not up for the incredibly challenging hike. On our 3-day trip with the great team at Green Rinjani, we camped under the stars, saw the sunrise over the mountain, and hiked down to the crater lake to soak in the natural hot springs. It was an amazing experience and one of the best adventures we had in our year-long stay in Indonesia.
There are two different spots where you can begin a Mt. Rinjani trek. If you’re looking to summit the volcano, you’ll need to start from the town of Sembalun. Those just headed to the crater rim and the hot springs can also start from Senaru. Due to it being the tail-end of the rainy season and our complete lack of proper mountaineering clothing, we opted for the latter. Coming from the Gili Islands, a driver from Green Rinjani met us at the pier and drove us about two hours to their office in town. Whether you’re arriving at one of the island’s seaports or the airport, they’ll arrange a car to pick you up. This is a big plus, as the drivers on Lombok are known to be pushy rip-off artists. After filling out the necessary paperwork for the trek, we were given some coffee and fried bananas covered in chocolate and cheese – a local specialty.
If you arrive earlier in the day as we did, you’ll get the chance to explore the town a bit. After checking into our guesthouse and dropping our bags off, a guide from Green Rinjani took us on a walk through the fields to check out a few waterfalls. It was a relatively easy walk, save for the handful of aggressive monkeys our guide had to fend off with a stick.
While it’s a perfectly fine spot for swimming, the water was super cold and the sun was hiding behind the clouds. As such, we decided just to snap a few photos and enjoy the natural beauty of the falls for a while before heading back to town.
Back at the Green Rinjani offices, we met our guide for the 3-day trek and discussed the route we’d be taking. As we talked, the team of porters gathered up all the gear for the big hike. These guys pack all of the camping gear, water, and food in baskets connected by a bamboo pole and carry them across their shoulder all the way up and down the mountain. If at any point in the hike you start to struggle and find it too difficult, just look over at the porters and see what they have to endure! After dinner, we retreated to the guesthouse to get one last shower and good night’s sleep in a bed before three days on the mountain.
A short ride from town brought us to the official entrance of the Mt. Rinjani National Park. Before heading in, all entrance fees must be paid for each hiker. The fee is 150,000 Rupiah (~$12) per person, per day. If you’re hiking with an agency, the fee is included in the cost of your trip. Before entering the park, a sign reminded us to “Ambil hanya foto. Tinggalkan hanya jejak kaki” (Take only photos. Leave only footprints). Unfortunately, many groups seem to ignore this sign entirely, as you’ll see quite a bit of rubbish strewn across the mountain. This is one of the major reasons we chose Green Rinjani and recommend them above others – our team not only packed in all of our garbage to take down, but also picked up quite a bit from previous groups. They also have each trekker plant a tree on the mountain, so they really live up to their name.
The first day is all uphill, but it’s not incredibly difficult. After a few hours of hiking, we stopped for an extended lunch break. We sat down and relaxed while our guide and porters cooked up a feast for us – rice, chicken, veggies, tofu, and tempe along with some coffee and fruit. The big lunch provided the energy boost we needed to push through and finish the day’s hike.
Unfortunately, the rain clouds crept in and made the rest of our day a bit wet and slippery. At least we had the foresight to pick up some cheap ponchos in town before starting the hike. At one point, the rain got so intense that our group had to find a little shack to take shelter in for a while. As we hid from the rain, a monkey up in the tree eyed our bag of snacks. Our guide periodically threw rocks in his direction, which helped to keep the hungry primate at bay.
Finally, we arrived at our campsite for the night. Drenched in sweat, legs burning, and muscles aching, we were thrilled to set our bags down and relax. While our guides cooked up dinner, we hid from the rain in our tent and enjoyed a plate of popcorn alongside some hot chocolate. With full bellies and tired bodies, we retreated to our tent, got snug in our sleeping bags, and went to bed at 8. The next day would start bright and early with sunrise, as our Mt. Rinjani adventure continued.
We’ll have Part Two of the trek plus a couple of videos in the coming weeks. If you’re interested in booking a trip with Green Rinjani, you can contact them at +62 819-1603-0327 in Indonesia, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.