After seeing my life’s Best Sunset on Gili Trawangan, I headed to camp on a Live Volcano, Mount Rinjani, on the island of Lombok.
About Mount Rinjani (Gunung Rinjani)
Mount Rinjani has a height of 3726m , is the second highest volcano in Indonesia. On the top of the volcano is a huge caldera(6×8 km), which is filled partially by the crater lake known as Segara Anak or Anak Laut (Child of the Sea) due to the blue color of water lake as Laut (Sea). The caldera also contains hot sulfur springs.
I booked a guide from Gili T for three days trek to mount Rinjani, paying 1050 K IDR PAX (~105 SGD/~75 USD) after a lot a haggling with multiple agents. No prior booking is really required. Booking companies have quoted obnoxiously high on travel sites.
Tip: Always remember to haggle when in Indonesia. The agents generally quote unreasonably high considering the services provided.
That’s Me, all Set for the trek 🙂
started by boarding a public ferry from Gili T to Lombok, where I was picked up by my guide to be transferred to Sembalum Lawang. I dropped my extra baggage with Trek guide to be delivered back in Senaru. Sembalum Lawang is a small sleepy village. We were a group of 6 people from different countries, along with one guide and three porters. This trek is not possible without porters as there are no stay options en route. Porters will carry makeshift tents and food for whatever days you book them. Food served on the trek is very basic. Breakfast include pancake with a slice of fruit, biscuits and Tea/coffee and meals include noodle soup and fried rice etc. It is advisable to carry some high-energy bars like Mars, snickers on this route as they are a source of instant energy.
Trek starts with a lenient ascend but becomes steep as the day progresses and as you climb towards the crater. The final ascent is terrific and will test the best out of you, so better be in the pink of health before you decide to come to Mount Rinjani.
Trek starts with lenient climb across bushes
First Break : Noodle Soup
Trekkers making way amidst bushes
Molten lava and black sand made sure we remember we are walking on an active volcano
Yeah! That’s the first-day camping location
Day one ends with camping on Sembalum Rim under a brilliant star lit sky with a sneak preview of Crater Lake. I could clearly see Milky Way rising from the east, behind the summit. The night was really cold with the temperature falling below 10 degrees and windy. Thankfully I was carrying my warm thermal jacket. It is also advisable to carry a head torch as there is no light after dark. I dozed off a few shots later.
My 5 billion star hotel under The Milky Way
Witnessing Milky Way in full glory
When was the last time your 5 star hotel had this view?
you can choose to go to the summit for a brilliant sunrise over Lombok, which involves starting at around 3AM for 2-3 hours steep climb and you can be back by 8AM for breakfast and continue ahead to Crater Lake.
Early morning view of crater lake from First camping location
Descend to crater lake is also tricky, with rough patches to cover. We started at around 9AM and reached the lake at 1PM walking on a slower pace and enjoying the volcanic terrain. The trek is dominated by black rocks and volcanic ash formed during eruptions. You can distinctly recognize the rocks formed after lava flow by looking at the shapes.
Camp near crater lake
Locals doing fishing
On reaching crater lake we were served a hot lunch, which was followed by a rejuvenating bath in hot springs. Hot springs have many small pools, so can choose a private pool for yourself and relax your tired body.
What an amazing place to lay down. I spent considerable time in natural hot bath 🙂
The water of crater lake is also said to be heated by volcano below and has temperature 2-3 degree higher than surroundings. Due to warm water, lake has abundant aquatic like and many locals can be seen fishing in the lake.
I would have loved to camp near the lake on Day two but was bounded by the group with which I was traveling so had to leave.
Day two ends with climb back to the crater at Senaru Rim, where we will sleep for the night.
Day two camping site
starts with a amazing view of small cone of volcano spewing off smoke amid the crater lake. Initial descent from the camping site is again steep and on rocky terrain. But later part of the trek takes you through dense Rinjani rain forest with only roots holding the walking track.
Making way to Senaru village, through dense forest
It was indeed an awesome part of trek. Day ends at the Senaru village from where you can head back to Gili T or explore Lombok further.
I decided to explore (the lesser known) Kuta of Lombok Island and headed towards Sengigi.
How to trek Mount Rinjani
Depending on the number of days in hand, this trek can be completed in 2-4 days. Normally everyone I saw was doing a 3 days trek.
2 Days – Sembalum Crater (Stay) + Summit
3 Days – Sembalum Crater (Stay) + Summit + Lake + Senaru Crater(Stay) + Senaru (OR vice versa)
4 Days – Sembalum Crater (Stay) + Summit + Lake (Stay) + Senaru Crater(Stay) + Senaru (OR vice versa)
As I have already mentioned, this trek is not possible without porters, unless you plan to carry a tent and food on your back. There are no permanent stay options on the crater and lake area. You may either start from Sembalum Lawang and end at Senaru or vice versa. If you intend to do Rinjani summit, it is advisable to start from Sembalum Lawang. Now you make join a trekking group or hire individual porters from Senaru. Joining a trekking group is budget friendly as cost is divided among the group and you do not need to communicate much with porters as a guide will handle all the logistics. Downside is you loose the luxury of choosing what to eat, tents/sleeping bags provided are not the best grade, and you have to stick to the group’s walking pace. You may book the trekking group from GIli islands ( as i did), Kuta (Lombok) and even from Bali. Alternatively you may straight away show up at Senaru and join a trekking group. Make sure you confirm that porters will carry enough food and water to last for three days.
If you choose to go with option of private porters, I will suggest to check in Senaru a day before you intent to start the trek. A couple of porters would be sufficient for the entire trek. You do not really need a guide as trails are more or less apparent, though not well marked. You can always follow the people on trail if you fear getting lost.
That’s the new vent of volcano emerging above clouds of steam
Some Key Tips
1) Carry some energy bars (Like Mars, Snickers etc) for munching enroute.
2) Carry a head lamp or torch and extra batteries as there is no power available on all three days.
3) A thermal jacket and lower would be good as it is very windy at night and Tents/Sleeping bags provided to you may not of the best qualities.
4) A trekking pole would be handy
5) carry enough sun block and Balaclava to avoid sun burns
6) A wind cheater or rain coat would help in case of light showers. This area is prone to rains.
7) Make sure you are wearing proper hiking or trekking shoes
8) Try to leave early for the day as it become dark early in hills and this trek is horrendous after dark due to unforgiving terrain.
9) In spite of general information on this trek available on web, this trek require moderate to high level of physical fitness. I saw a couple of people piggyback porters on second and third day.
10) You can drop your extra baggage with the trekking company and take it later from Senaru.
11) If you are feeling uncomfortable in carrying your baggage , you can request a porter to carry it for you and in return you can tip him.
12) Very clearly confirm what is included in your package like meal details, sleeping bags, water bottle limits etc. Many trekking companies are thugs and create mess just to extort more money.
I headed to lesser known, Kuta, Lombok after spending night at Senaru village.