Trekking Up Mount Rinjani In Lombok: An Equally Challenging Summit Mentally & Physically

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CONTENT: Michelle Ng

While most get their first glimpse of Rinjani when climbing Mount Batur in Bali, the volcano is well-known amongst hikers for its stunning lakes, hot springs, and surreal summit views. The rocky black soil of Rinjani’s summit rises from lush green valleys and is Indonesia’s second highest volcano at 3,726m above sea level. Whether its the thrill of climbing a live volcano or the absolutely stunning views, Rinjani draws hundreds of climbers every year, traveling from all the country and the world to challenge the summit.

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Preparing for the Hike
While it is possible to hike up Rinjani without a guide, it is not recommended as the terrain is very challenging, with steep drops and rocky paths. There are more than 20 villages surrounding Rinjani, with four main routes heading up: Senaru, Sembalun, Torean and Saja.

After a lot of research online into the different tour operators, we finally decided on Hallo Trekker as they were very responsive and helpful during the enquiry process. Their package pricing is very competitive, and included a night stay before the climb in Senaru (so we don’t have to wake up very early on day 1), toilet tent, water, and also ensured that the guides carried all the trash back down the mountain – the last factor was crucial to our decision as we did not want to contribute to the trash on the mountain. Hallo Trekker has a lot of different packages from 2-4 days and various routes up and down, and also day packages in the Senaru area where you can view the majestic Rinjani if trekking is not your thing!

We ended up deciding to attempt the 3 day, 2 night trek from Sembalun to Senaru, trekking up via Sembalun, summit on day 2, and a detour down to the lake crater, spending the night at the other crater rim before heading back down through Senaru, which is rockier and steeper. You can also do it the other way by heading up by Senaru, summit Rinjani on day 3, and come down through Sembalun. And if you are a seasoned trekker, go for the Torean route instead of Senaru, as the path heads down through jungle and rivers and requires technical experience.

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Getting to Lombok and Rinjani
While Lombok has an international airport, there is very limited international flights with mostly domestic flights from Indonesia. Most of us arrived by flying direct from Singapore through Scoot, which flies 2 times a week and takes 2 and a half hours. One person in our group came on a fast speed boat from Bali, which took about 3 hours, although the waters were very choppy.

After a quick hiccup on the pick up point, we were ferried to Sinar Rinjani Cottages & Restaurant to stay the night. There, we met Rustom and San, who gave us a briefing on the route and the next 3 days.

Day 1 started at 6am with a breakfast before heading for a mandatory blood pressure test. After a harrowing ride on the back of a truck, we finally arrived at the entrance gate at Sembalun. The walk started through a forest for a short while, before opening up to savannah grasslands with no shade from the harsh sun. Be sure to wear sunblock or bring a hat, and wear either hiking boots with good ankle support or trail shoes with good grip – we recommend Salomon boots or Hoka Trail shoes.

From Pos II upwards, the trail started getting steeper and some parts even required us to use our hands to get up the rocks. Pack as light as you can as your bag will start to weigh down after many hours. Gradually, the summit came into view, hiding amongst the clouds. Despite the passing showers of rain, we made it up to the crater rim base camp by 5pm. Our tents had a prime view of the crater rim and the sparkling turquoise waters of Lake Segara Anak. At the edge of the lake sits Mount Barujari, another active volcano that could erupt anytime.

After a quick dinner of very comforting chicken curry and rice against a gorgeous sunset that gave way to a blanket of stars, we headed to bed as we had an early start. We woke up again at 1.30am for breakfast and to start the summit attack as we were on the furthest campsite. The campsite was already bustling with everyone prepping their gear, and we set off. There was only one main trail up through high boulders and rocks that eventually turned into ash, so there was lots of waiting in queue at bottleneck areas.

Unfortunately it started raining halfway up, many people started turning back and a hiker even fell off the side. Despite all that, our guides encouraged us to slowly trek up even as the rain was going sideways into our faces. It was a bit de-moralising at first as it felt like we were sliding backwards with every step up the volcanic ash, but our entire group made it to the top! After snapping a quick commemorative picture, we only revelled in our achievement once we got back down to base camp, out of the rain and the freezing cold.

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“Two steps up, one step down”
It was only when we arrived back to base camp that we found out that this was probably the worst weather San had experienced in his entire climbing career, which made the summit ascent sweeter in hindsight! That being said, Rinjani is not for novice hikers or casual tourists. The trek is not to be underestimated, and is as challenging physically as it was mentally even if you’re fully prepared. The pouring rain throughout the three days was just another reminder that we are miniscule compared to nature’s powerful forces.

We were very appreciative of the team at Hallo Trekker, who took care of everything on our trip from the day we stepped onto Lombok mainland. They booked our transport, accommodation, meals, and porters, and were able to react on the go. Our guides San, Au, and Wika were very experienced, ensuring that the entire group climbed and descended safely, especially during the terrible storms at the summit. San even showed us to the most instagrammable spots at the crater rim, so we at least had some nice photos to show! The meals they cooked for us during the hike were the best we had on Lombok, with huge portions of chicken curry, indomie, and banana pancake. We saw other groups eating pasta and fries, but we loved the authenticity of the local dishes.

Book your Rinjani Trekking Tour with Hallo Trekker by emailing or Whatsapping +6287 765 097 333. For more info on the tour and other itineraries, visit Website 

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