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After an intense first day of uphill hiking – much of it in the rain – we camped under the stars on the first night of our Mt. Rinjani trek. Having gone to bed at just 8 o’clock, we rose from our tents bright and early to take in the sunrise over the mountain. Here are the highlights of the rest of our 3-day Mt. Rinjani adventure.
I’m usually not much of a morning person, but some things are worth getting out of bed for. With the clouds finally out of the way in the early morning, we were able to see the town of Senaru, the Gili Islands, and even Mt. Agung over on Bali.
It wasn’t the most amazing sunrise ever, but the views of the mountains and the caldera lake were breathtaking. Not a bad way to start the day at all!
Upon our arrival to camp the afternoon before, our guides fixed up some popcorn and hot chocolate for us for us to enjoy after a day of uphill hiking. They then set out cooking up a feast of nasi goreng with some chicken and veggies. They were right back at it in the morning, fixing up eggs, pancakes, toast, and coffee – not bad for a makeshift kitchen set up in a tent on a mountainside!
As we weren’t heading to the summit, we were able to leave our campsite in tact and our big bags behind. The morning was spent going down the long and winding path to the crater lake.
Called Segara Anak (Child of the Sea), it’s 2,000 meters above sea level and around 200 meters deep. When viewed from above, it’s a fascinating sight to say the very least.
Once we arrived down at the lake, we could see smoke rising from Mt. Barujari and steam from the natural hot springs – a reminder that this volcano is still very much active. In fact, eruptions last October caused many flight cancellations as three airports were closed.
After the long and tiring hike up the mountain and down into the crater, we were thrilled to finally arrive at the natural hot springs. Unfortunately for us, the recent heavy rains had substantially cooled them down to be more warm than hot springs.
We weren’t going to miss the opportunity to soak in a natural hot spring in a crater inside a volcano, though. When else will you ever get the chance to do such a thing?
Another group who was soaking alongside us had a pack of cookies they were snacking on. Within minutes, a monkey showed up looking to score a tasty treat. The trekkers tossed him a piece, but that wasn’t enough. In the blink of an eye, the monkey darted down to the spring, snatched up the entire pack of cookies, and took off up the rocks. Keep your snacks hidden when trekking out here!
It’s amazing what the guides and porters can do with such a limited set up, carrying all of the supplies on their shoulders. After our soak, we had a big plate of mie goreng with scrambled eggs and veggies waiting for us. There was also a seemingly never-ending supply of candy bars, apples, and instant coffee. While we enjoyed lunch, some of the guides went fishing in the lake to catch dinner.
It was a great break sitting in the hot springs and having lunch, but we had to head back up the trail to get to camp before sunset. I personally much prefer uphill hiking to downhill, as my bad knees struggle when going down. We got a great workout, enjoyed the views off to the side, and made it back to camp in a few hours.
While there are many organizations and agencies running trekking trips here, we opted to go with the guys at Green Rinjani due to their reputation as being the most environmentally friendly. In addition to packing in all of their rubbish (as well as some from previous groups), they have each trekker plant a tree at the campsite.
For the last dinner of the trip, the crew whipped up some nasi goreng with chicken, eggs, and veggies for us. They also made a huge, spicy fish stew from the afternoon’s catch. They warned us of the heat level, but I just had to try it. Indonesians like it pedas (spicy), and so do I! Full and exhausted, we crawled into our tents and drifted off to sleep.
The third and final day of the trek was quite uneventful and very little fun. My difficulties with going downhill were only exacerbated by the loose gravel and dirt that we had to walk down. It was a long, grueling walk down the mountain, but I was still happy to be a trekker and not a porter. It’s amazing how much weight these guys can carry with them up and down a mountain, wearing nothing but cheap plastic flip-flops. It’s a difficult job, and the guys who do it are incredibly hardworking and deserve a lot of credit for what they do.
All in all, our Mt. Rinjani experience was amazing and worth every Rupiah. While we didn’t attempt the summit, we were totally satisfied with the hike we did. Getting out in nature, camping on the side of a mountain, seeing sunrise over a volcano, soaking in natural hot springs, and taking in the stunning scenery was just what we needed. The team at Green Rinjani was great to us the entire trip, from the moment they picked us up from the pier to the long drive they took to take us down to Kuta. If you’re considering tackling the mighty volcano, drop them a line: email@example.com or just check their website.