Mount Rinjani or Gunung Rinjani as it’s referred to is an active volcano on the island of Lombok in Indonesia. Rinjani is 3,726 metres (12,224 ft) in elevation making it the second largest volcano in Indonesia right behind Mount Kerinci at 3,805 m (12,484 ft). Mt Rinjani sits within the Gunung Rinjani National Park. The park was established in 1997 because it’s a major bio-geographical transition zone where tropical flora and fauna of South East Asia meet Australia. On the top of the volcano you’ll see a large deep blue caldera which is estimated to be about 200 metres (660ft) deep. The volcano is quite active, its latest eruption was on September 27th, 2016.
There are many trekking options offered in the beach town of Kuta, Lombok- you’ll see many trekking companies offering 1-5 day packages. Our 3 day trek costs us around 100US (1,353 IDR), which included transportation, 1 night accommodation, food, and porters. We met some friends in town who were keen to join us so we had a party of 5, more the better!
Day 1- After a 4 hour drive we arrived in a small town called Senaru, which is at the base of Mt Rinjani. We did a final pack the next morning, left some belongings at the homestay and jumped in the back of a pickup truck. At the start of the trek you have to register with the National Park and provide personal documentation, contact info etc. We were finally off- along with 12 others in our group. The first day was quite challenging. We quickly realized how hard the porters work, it’s insane to watch them gracefully hike with an enormous load on there shoulders wearing sandals. It’s unfortunate to see litter on Rinjani, but with the amount of traffic the mountain gets it somewhat inevitable. It’s great hiking with a large group but it’s significantly slower, and draining at times waiting for others. We arrived at camp 1 in the evening and the porters went to work setting up the tents and cooking dinner. Nasi Goreng(Fried Rice with egg) was served along with tea. Everyone was exhausted, and shortly after dinner everyone called it a night.
Day 2- The porters woke us at 3:30am. We started the slog to the peak in the pitch dark along with many other hikers. It was a scramble for many hours on the loose rock but we arrived before sunrise. The weather cooperated and the sunrise put on a show for everyone. After a few hours at the peak and a lot of great photos captured we started the descent. As you hike you’ll see monkeys. They live at higher altitudes and the volcano is their home. They live off food scrapes and they’re excellent at stealing food as we later learned. We were greeted back at camp 1 with a warm sun and a cooked breakfast- banana pancakes. After multiple hours laxing in the sun our group started the descent into the crater. The weather deteriorated quickly and it started down-pouring. Between the weather and lack of communication amongst our group we found ourselves separated. Eventually most of our group rejoined. It continued to rain as we huddled under a hut for hours waiting for the porters. Everyone was cold and hungry at this point and our group was becoming increasingly irritated. It was frustrating not knowing a plan. Due to the weather it was decided that our second camp would not be up high on the ridge-line, but rather at the base of the lake. Dinner was served under a large tarp, large portions of Nasi Goreng were served, and I along with others ate an immense amount of food. After dinner everyone bathed in the natural hot spring. We piled into the smallest pool of water like sardines, it was a good laugh.
Day 3- We departed very early the next morning knowing we had a lot of ground to cover. By the time we ascended out of the crater the sun had risen, the conditions were all time. After a group photo on the ridgeline, and a refuel we started the descent. As the day progressed our water and food supply was slim, which made the last day that much more difficult. At this point in our trek everyone was tired and keen to arrive at the base. Knowing the end was in sight everyone hiked at their own pace with their head down. Eventually, all the parties in our group met up closer to the end as it started to rain. The porters had the last of the food cooked up, Nasi Goreng again. We arrived at the base exhausted but happy with a sense of accomplishment. After everyone signed out of the National Park’s book system we hopped into a van and brought back to Senaru. We collected our bags, said our goodbye’s to the group and jumped into another van. We were dropped off where we started, back in the quiet town of Kuta.
I would recommend the Rinjani trek to anyone. It was an interesting experience going with a tour and porters, but I’d recommend people to trek it on their own. The majority of the people join a trekking company because they may not have the equipment or experience to trek alone. At the base we noticed you can rent camping gear, so it’s quite do able on you’re own. There are no rules stating you need to hike Rinjani with a tour company. As long as you register with the National Park you’re free to go.