In October 2015 we trekked up Mount Rinjani, an active volcano on the island of Lombok, the laid back and less touristy neighbour of Bali. A few weeks after we returned, Mount Rinjani erupted causing numerous flight cancellations.
I had seen photos of the beautiful crater view and decided straight away that I wanted to hike there. In hindsight, I should’ve researched more and trained as it proved to be one of the more difficult hikes I’ve completed (in terms of elevation).
We opted to do the 2 day/1 night trek to Mount Rinjani crater rim with Rudy Trekkers. I had first enquired with Green Rinjani but they became unresponsive to my emails, whereas Rudy was quick to reply (I am in no way affiliated with Rudy).
We were picked up from Gili Trawangan and led to a small boat which zipped across the ocean to Bangsal harbour, Lombok in 30mins. From there we were driven in an air conditioned car, which was a nice change from the horse and cart transport in Gili (no cars allowed on Gili islands) to Senaru, another 1.5hr drive.
After the trek debrief, we walked for 5mins to the national park. It is a lush green jungle filled with monkeys climbing up tree vines. The first waterfall, Sendang Gile, was an easy 15min walk.
The second waterfall, Tiu Kelep, was another 30mins away and required two creek crossings which proved a bit more difficult with a few people slipping and falling (myself included). The second waterfall was definitely one of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve encountered in my travels. Although I stood about 100m away, I could still feel the water spray and taking a photo proved problematic as every time I went to shoot, my lens would be sprayed with waterfall mist.
Earlier we had seen a group of people float down a stone walled creek with gushing water, similar to that of a water slide. On the way back we decided to jump in and give it a go. It was a bit of a letdown as the water was quite shallow and momentum slow. When I got up, my back was covered in scratches from the rocks.
For dinner we ventured down the road to an Indonesia restaurant. I opted for a tasty meal of nasi goreng and ayam (fried rice and chicken), which cost a total of $3AUD!
Day 1 – 2,039m elevation to climb Mount Rinjani crater rim
After breakfast and last minute packing we drove to the tourist office (600m elevation) to get our passes and sign in for the trek at 7:30am. From here, we trekked on concrete/dust paths to the starting gate at 800m elevation.
The hike is mostly through covered jungle which was great as Lombok weather was still quite hot in October at 28 degrees celsius.
At around 10:00am, we reached position 3 at 1,800m elevation. We stopped here for a rest while our guide and porters prepared us an early lunch, whilst also fending off hungry monkeys. On the menu was salad for entrée, packet migoreng, fried egg and chicken for the main and fruit for dessert. The meal was extremely heavy and left me bloated and feeling a bit sick (especially since I am intolerant to the wheat noodles and sulphites) and we still had another 1000m to climb!
After lunch we continued uphill through covered jungle until we reached an open grassy hillside.
From here the trail got incredibly steep with dusty ground, heading towards a rocky mountain slope. By this stage I’m exhausted but the guide keeps egging me on, saying we are almost there.
We traverse along rock slopes before we finally see some tents in the near distance, we have made it to the crater rim at 2,639m!
First sighting of Mount Rinjani crater rim
The Crater Lake is all that you can imagine and much more extraordinary in person than photos could ever capture. The volcano is still active with smoke rising from the center.
The amount of rubbish on the trail and at the Crater Lake was immense. Paper and tissue is littered all along the paths. It’s such a shame as the landscape is tarnished by the rubbish.
Our guide and porters cooked us a delicious meal of green curry and rice and we sat around a fire telling stories and freaking out whenever rats ran past.
At night, Mount Rinjani has a spectacular view of the Milky Way and stars.
Day 2 – 2,039m trek down Mount Rinjani aka the death of knees
At 2am I awoke to howling gale-force winds. Our campsite was on an exposed section of the mountain and the wind was so strong that one of the tent pegs detached on my side. The tent would flap viciously with the wind and due to the missing peg, the tent pole kept hitting my head every so often. Suffice to say, I had little sleep that night.
2am was also the time that people would summit Mt Rinjani. Lying in my warm sleeping bag, albeit being pummeled by the tent, I was glad that we opted for the crater rim trek instead of summit and wondered whether the Mount Rinjani summit trek would be cancelled due to dangerous weather conditions.
Sunrise at Mount Rinjani crater rim
At 5:30am we rose for sunrise and was greeted with hot tea, luncheon meat burger, chips and fruit for breakfast.
We found out that some tents had been blown off the mountain. The gusty wind continued into the AM.
The hike down the exposed rocky slope was unpleasant. We had to stop every now and then when strong winds belted, worried about the possibility of being blown off the mountain. Even with sunglasses, I had to squint so dust wouldn’t fly into my eyes. My friends had commented that I looked like a miner, my face covered in dirt.
When we reached the jungle, we were sheltered from the wind. We were able to make it down the mountain at a very quick pace, and sometimes, often ran as it was easier on the downward slope of the mountain. We had climbed 2,000m elevation the day before and now we had to trek back down. It was tough on the knees, although my hiking poles definitely helped. I would definitely recommend to bring poles to this hike, although many people were able to find makeshift wooden sticks along the way. Our guide helped smooth the sticks with his machete. I started getting blisters on my hands from the sweat and rubbing of the poles on my bare skin, wearing gloves helped with the friction.
We had left around 7:45am and had reached position 1 by 10:30am, with short breaks in-between. We stopped for another carb heavy lunch of tomato based sauce with spaghetti and fruit for dessert.
By the end of the trek our knees were wrecked, some of the group even limping. I’m still wondering whether it was a good or bad experience, although I do have to say that the views were other worldly.