It was only after I had started the Mount Rinjani Trek that I realized I was slightly unprepared.
When looking up at the volcano from the shores of Gili Trawangan while the sun was still rising over Lombok, I understood that the next three days would be a little more difficult than I had expected. The ascent looked steep and the top looked a long way up. Mount Ringani, or Gunung Rinjani as the locals call it, is the second highest peak in Indonesia and also a sacred volcano. Sasaks and the Hindus often make pilgrimages there to honor their gods.
Driven by my can-do, no-fear attitude I had signed up to do a 3-day rather than the recommended 5-day-trek, and was coming to the realization that I had indeed underestimated the difficulty of the task at hand. To top things, our guide informed us that we would be walking 7 hours the first day and 11 hours on the second. We were in for a treat!
Luckily, two of us had signed up, my friend Daniel and myself, and we were both still up for the adventure. We had met our guide while walking around Gili Trawangan and had let him convince us to join him on this trip.
We left Gili Trawangan around 7 am on the first day of our trek, but didn’t actually start hiking until midday.
The first real ascent of the trek was challenging but nothing crazy as we slowly made our way into a dense rainforest. On our way up, we passed several tour groups that had hired porters to carry their backpacks, which made us – terribly – envy them.
We stopped for lunch at a small clearing, where together with our guide, we began cooking our lunch. Shortly after, some of the porters belonging to the groups we had passed began cooking too. Had we only planned our trek a bit better we would probably also have had a freshly cooked meal waiting for us by the time we stopped for lunch.
After our lunch, we began trekking towards the campsite to get there before the other groups and more importantly, before sunset. This part of the trek was amazing as short after we started, we made it above the clouds. As the trail become steeper and steeper we saw that the end of the trek was in sight. The views were breathtaking as we looked out at the ocean from over the top of the clouds.
We got to the rim of the crater with enough time to enjoy the sunset. It was extremely rewarding. There is nothing better than to admire the sun dip below the horizon after a long and tiring trek, while admiring the view over Lombok and the Gili Islands. We had hiked 10 kilometers up to 2.650 meters above sea level: what an accomplishment!
As soon as the sun dipped under the horizon, we started to feel cold. The camping equipment we had been provided with was very basic, but luckily, once we got into the tents we were able to warm ourselves up.
Our guide woke us up at sunrise, wanting to make sure we set off before the other groups. As we finished our breakfast overlooking the crater, the sun slowly rose in the sky, giving us a glimpse of the amazing walk awaiting us.
We began walking at 8 am slowly making our way down into the crater. Contrarily to what I had thought, this proved to be the most tiring part of the trek, as walking downhill put so much pressure on my knees. The descent was quick and we arrived to the lake at the bottom of the crater after only 2 hours of trekking.
After exploring the area and enjoying the views for a few hours, we began our trip to the hot springs. Having spent two days hiking with no showers it was the highlight of our day. The landscape looked very dramatic, similar to the landscape I had previously seen in Iceland.
We put on a clean set of clothes and ate lunch before getting back on the trail and starting the trek back up the opposite side of the crater. To my surprise, this was the steepest part of the trek. By the time we got to the top of the crater, I was exhausted but once again happy to enjoy the stunning views.
The 3 am wake up on the final day was probably the toughest, I was tired, it was cold and I didn’t want to get out of bed. But once we got up we were raring to go.
Looking back on our trip, I wish I had signed up for a longer trek, to give myself more time to enjoy the views and gone for the option with porters to make our trek less tiring. Nonetheless, I am proud of our accomplishment and feel that the effort we put into our trek only served to make it more memorable. Here’s to adventures and Mount Rinjani!
Avoid distress booking this trek with a reliable tour company.
Bamba Experience offers the 5-day Trek via Sembalun Lawang from only US$662 per person: