Lombok Island is popular destination for surfers and beach lovers but now only! Mount Rinjani Trekking is definitely the highlight worth considering. Of course, only for those who like to hike because this one is quite demanding. I will share my experience with you and tell you about the options for trekking Rinjani.
Mount Rinjani trekking – packages options
For me, Mount Rinjani was the most difficult among Indonesian volcanos I have climbed. The easiest are Bromo or Ijen, more difficult was Mount Merapi, but also because I have been hiking during the night. Mount Rinjani trekking was tough and I decided to skip 3 days trekking to the summit and went only to the crater.
First of all I have to tell you that there are two starting points available: in the village Senaru and Sembalum. Most of the times, tourists which plan to go to the summit, start from Sembalum and those who just want to reach the crater – from Senaru. Starting from Senaru is the easiest option available, so if you are not experiences hiker but you really want to see the crater, this is for you.
There are few packages available from the shortest, which takes 2 days to the longest – 4 days. Trekking which takes you to the summit takes 3 days, during which you will see the sunrise on Rinjani and have a chance to get down to the lake in the crater. There are also longer trekkings – 4 days, where you have more relaxing time at the lake and hot spring.
Trekking which takes 2 days starts from Senaru and takes you to the crater. However, there are 2 days packages to reach the summit and back, but it’s only for experiences hikers.
There are tons of agencies in Senaru which offer these packages. Options are various and sometimes include pick up from the airport, accommodation in Senaru and drop off. Tour includes a guide, porters carrying all the neccesary gear such as food, tents, mattresses, cooking equipment. You can also go to the Gunung Rinjani National Park by yourself, carrying your own gear.
My experience of trekking Rinjani Volcano
Trekking which I did was 2 days package, with night and sunrise on the edge of the crater. Myself, a guide and 2 porters carrying all the gear started to hike early in the morning. All the cooking was done on the way, when we were having little breaks. Everything was well organised. Going up was quite easy, the elevation is not so rapid, until you reach the last part. This one was quite tough because the little volcanic rocks were slippery and tricky. Moreover, it becomes very steep and tiring.
We reached the crater before the sunset so I could already see the lake, but unfortunately, not the sunset. There were plenty of tents around and lots of hikers. It took us approximately 7 hours to come up, pretty long way.
Here came the morning. It was quite exciting to wait for the sun rays to hit the lake. View was incredible and the feeling of being so tiny in front of this huge lake and powerful volcano was overwhelming. I was staring there for one hour or so, watching the sunrise, lake changing colors with the light and admiring nature.
After 8-9 am we started our way back and it was pretty quick, except the slippery part on the top. I was exhausted when we reached Senaru around 1 pm and couldn’t imagine myself doing the 3 days trekking. On the other hand curiosity for hiking up to the summit and spending more time around the crater would be fantastic. Well, maybe there will be next time!
Mass tourism = mass trash
As there is just one way to hike, it gets pretty crowded on the trail. Especially, because for every tourist there is 1-2 porters, so in the end there is a huge army going up and down. Apart from individual tourists, there are organised tours which are huge groups of 15 or so surrounded by same amount of porters plus guides.
I was terrified about the quantity of trash on the way. Honestly, it was pretty sad. Among all the trekkings I have done in Indonesia and complained a lot about the trash, this one was the worst. Apart from people dropping trash on the way, the biggest load of it is from the guides and porters cooking on the way. Some of them collect their trash, some not. Organic leftovers are thrown wherever for monkeys and other animals. So how does it look like?
The trail is full of plastic and bad smell form organic leftovers composting. There are no toilets on the way, so you can imagine that shit is everywhere as the crowd going through is pretty big. Honestly, you come for trekking to experience some nature and you just trip over trash and smell human shit everywhere. Some people don’t ever care to go to the bush and poo on the path.
As always when I travel, I put priority on choosing eco friendly tour agency, if possible. I had a great experience with jungle trekking in Sumatra with the eco tour and tried to find one for Mount Rinjani trekking. I was able to find one agency is Senaru, which has eco-friendly ideology about cleaning the jungle and preserving the forest. At least this is how their website looked like, but reality was surprising.
What makes them eco? I have been observing all the trekking and finally decided to ask. They told me that after camping or cooking they don’t throw the plastic trash to the bush like the others, they collect it… I was speechless. All my life, I have been thinking that that’s the normal thing all human beings should do. Does it mean that those who don’t pick their trash are monkeys? No. It means that standards and habits in Indonesia are far different from what Western world is used to.
During Rinjani trekking I was feeling like they are fooling me with being “eco”. I talked with the owner later on. Of course I didn’t say: man, it’s all bullshit with being eco. I talked politely, to give advice, to inspire. In conclusion, I will keep supporting eco-friendly initiatives even when the definition of ‘being eco’ is dramatically different. Why? More tourists will be interested in eco tours, more agencies will switch into eco-friendly tourism. This way standards will be improving little by little into more awareness about the environment protection.
All that being said, I would still recommend taking eco tours to make a step forward. Here, in Indonesia it’s a very small step, but every little matters when it comes to nature.
Lombok Island is not only Rinjani volcano but also stunning south coast you need to discover. If you still have not enough rest on the beach after Rinjani trekking, come to little Gili Islands near Lombok, to experience a bit of paradise on Earth.