Journey to Mount Rinjani
Standing at 3,726m, Mount Rinjani is the second highest volcano in indonesia. Found in the north of Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara, i’ve been excited for this hike since the start of my trip to Indonesia! So many things went wrong but I made it up in the end! I don’t consider myself as an experienced hiker even though I enjoy climbing mountains, but the Rinjani hike was possibly one of the toughest I’ve ever done (so far)
My plan was to head to Senggigi on Lombok and book a tour from there as i’ve read that it costs 900,000 RP there, which is a lot cheaper than booking from Bali. Unluckily for me I got brought to Gili Air by mistake, and had no choice but to book a tour from there instead. I paid 1,100,000 RP eventually but it wasn’t such a bad deal considering that included a one night stay at the guesthouse on Senaru (the village right before the start of the trail). Also the agreement was that they would take me back to the Gilis after the hike was done. So what I paid includes tents/sleeping bags/food/water and porters that carry the food. You should expect to pay a lot more if you want a more luxurious group that has camping chairs and better food etc. But I didn’t mind roughing it out or sitting on the ground.
Here’s 3 things you should know about ‘agreements’ with tour agencies in Indonesia.
#1 you might get overcharged. always haggle. the first price is never the final price.
#2 they promise you the world and you actually get nothing when the time comes. many people were promised jackets, gears, equipment like torch lights but they always come at an extra cost.
#3 make them write where you’re going or returning to on the invoice/receipt and never lose it or let anyone else take it. if not, take a picture of the receipt.
3 WET DAYS
*This hike was done in May 2014
We grabbed breakfast at the guesthouse in Senaru and got split up into 3 groups. I was teamed up with 7 amazing European girls, all of whom were troopers. The terrain wasn’t as easy as I thought, there was a lot of loose soil and rocks. Even with my proper Asolo hiking boots, I slipped a lot in the beginning. We hiked about 6 hours to the first campsite that day and midway it started drizzling, then pouring as we got higher up. It was cold, wet and everybody was soaked.
The last 1 hour before reaching the campsite was seemingly tougher and steeper. But once we arrived, the view was rewarding. On one side you could see the sunset through the clouds and on the other was the alluring view of the crater rim, the peak and the lake.
I changed out of all my wet clothes and hung my soaked jacket on the tent, but it wouldn’t dry because of the humidity so that was an issue. Our guide, Adi said that it would be impossible to make it to the summit if our jackets were still wet on the last day so that got me really worried.
After nightfall, I emerged from my tent to find myself greeted with a sky full of stars. Despite the freezing and chilly wind, me & Hannah layered on some clothes and ran up to the peak for some pictures. It was just. amazing…
Got up bright and early that morning to catch the sunrise. As expected, it was beautiful. Standing there with a hot cup of tea in hand, all I could do was to soak up the view. I was excited for what was coming up on Day 2.Â Reluctantly, I put on my wet clothes again because I didn’t want to risk wetting my only other set of dry clothes. Also Adi said it’s very likely the weather may turn again towards the second half of the day. My jacket eventually dried as I hung it on my bag during the hike down to the lake.
It was a pleasant hike since we were going down, and everybody was excited to swim in the lake and dip in the hot springs ! It was so incredible being able to say that I’ve swam in a lake of an active volcano 😀 Since it was still considered low season, the hot springs was only in a small section of the pools but it was great dipping in it for a while! Lunch was served after and of course the food was always delicious. It was about 4 hours to the next campsite that day, and I remember me and Hannah being incredibly lethargic from overeating at lunch. The torturous part happened when it started to pour again, and this time I kept my jacket and refused to put it on regardless of how cold I was. Everybody was shivering by the time we got to the campsite, but none of the tents were ready because the porters were also getting shelter from the heavy downpour. Needless to say, that night we all slept in wet tents and sleeping bags, but I wasn’t too worried since the wake up call was at 2am the next morning for the summit.
At this point the guides would ask if everybody wanted to head to the summit and some people had opted to stay at the campsite and give it a miss. I didn’t want to come all the way here only to NOT push myself and climb to the top.
The terrain was insane. People who climbed Rinjani before all told me “you take two steps front and one step back”, and it was exactly what they described. The sand was soft, and it was a fairly steep ascent that made you wish you had some special shoes to help you take each step. I took many breaks and nobody pressurised me to go fast, so it was good to have my own pace. I even stopped to take some pictures of the stars because there were so many that it was actually distracting. It was a very challenging climb, and I felt warm when I walked for too long, but cold when I removed my jacket. But someone told me to dress in layers so I could peel one off at a time. The last thing you want is to be soaked in your own perspiration and get to the top feeling chilly because you can’t dry off. As dawn broke I had half a mind to give up and settle for the sunrise where I stood. There was a lot of self motivation and pushing, I was ever so grateful that there was no rain that morning.
Getting to the top finally was an incredible moment, I was close to tears and looking at the sunrise blew me away. The shadow of the volcano that all of us just climbed was cast on the crater rim as the sun came up, and the colours of the skies, the magnificent view of the lake all the way to the different islands of Indonesia, it was absolutely breathtaking. Of course at this point the guides takes out the cookies and everybody’s enjoying a nice sweet snack at the top. I don’t know about other groups but for me and my group, everyone anticipated our biscuit breaks on a daily basis. We were the all girl group motivated by biscuits LOL
Hiking down was easier than I expected, but that’s when all your blisters that has been festering in your shoes for the past 3 days start to hurt. Sure, it was there before, but it didn’t seem to bother anyone until the hike was done. Hannah and I were extremely chirpy, feeling way accomplished and sang “I feel good” as we joyfully skipped downhill. The Danish girls on the other hand were all beat and tired, but we were all so proud of ourselves. Here we were, the only group with ALL girls that were so unprepared, with no proper hiking gear, and lack of extra outerwear and all of us made it to the summit.
I really enjoyed the hike even if there were points where I felt close to giving up. And maybe without the consecutive hours of rain, it might have been an easier climb. But was it worth it? I’d say yes.