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Domineering over almost half of Lombok, Mt Rinjani is Indonesia’s second-tallest volcano, sitting at 3726m above sea level. To the Balinese, this majestic mountain is one of the three sacred peaks, along with Bali’s Mount Agung and Java’s Mount Bromo.
The mountain’s astonishing peaks pierce into the clouds with several volcanic rocks (rhyolite) and rolling hillsides attracting various trekkers who thrill to the other-worldly vistas. My friends and I were one of them.
Despite scaling this incredible mountain for the second time, its riveting beauty only gets better with each climb. Not forgetting the difficulty it entails, your fitness level has to be at a moderate level and definitely we weren’t there. 😴
Best time to trek
Rinjani National Park is open from April to January with April and May being the quietest season to trek. Also, it may be the best season to witness the magical Milky Way.
Trekking with Rinjani Samalas
It’s my second time with them and their immense service has never failed us. An established volcano trekking company with several years of experience packed amongst their guides, Rinjani Samalas has an array of packages to choose from. It offers one night to four nights trek to suit different kinds of level and adventure. To prep us for the trek, a succinct briefing was given by the guide the night before.
Homestay with Rinjani Samalas
The lodge was accommodating and basic enough for us to prepare for the gruelling hike the day after. The humble abode has a restaurant attached to it which makes it even more convenient as the village is filled with homestays while cafe/ coffee shops are scarce.
A handful of impressive waterfalls are a walking distance which includes Sendang Gile and the massive Tiu Kelep Waterfall.
The homeowners of the homestay looked after our belongings when we set off for our hike, which we began our adventure being cramped in the back of a pickup truck.
The bumpy ride led us to the Rinjani Volcano National Park Office where we got our permits after signing our names.
With high spirits and adrenaline, we were greeted by vast open lands with leaned paths and often at the full mercy of the piercing heat.
The surprising part of the trek is the diverse landscapes the sacred mountain park has to offer. We went through a never-ending ghostly forest and at times, we found ourselves scaling up a canyon, with rocks and boulders to stride on. We definitely didn’t expect a volcano to look anything other than a few random bushes and some rocks but we couldn’t have been more wrong.
Lunch is served by the talented porters who are our MVPs throughout the climb. Lugging on their shoulders are our care packages which consisted of water supply, tents, sleeping bags and probably their whole kitchen. Chicken rice tastes so much better on the mountaintop.
After an endless climb, we finally arrived at our sick camping spot on the cliff edge with a magnificent vista. We watched as the sun went down the crater and the clouds were dipping well below us. Our pain and plights disappeared for a moment.
One of the highlights of the trek was probably witnessing the Milkyway firsthand. Though it varies on the season, the abundance of glimmering white spots in the sky won’t shy away from sight.
Rolling out at our tents in the chilly, pitch-black sky at 2 am, we prepared ourselves for the summit push with breakfast made by our star porters.
‘Summit push’ in Rinjani volcano context is an intense, most gruelling kind of torture both physically and mentally. Many have given up, some fell asleep huddled behind a rock, taking a respite from the wild and unforgiving winds.
It’s like climbing a sand dune, two steps up and one step back. On a fine and steep volcanic ash, this mental torture carries on for a hellish four hours. As we scaled up higher, the temperature began to drop and the wind was relentless. That’s when we realised, it’s just us mentally doing the hike.
The beauty of this hike is whether you arrived late or early, you will be blessed with a stunning view.
Each and every one of us arrived at the top (eventually, somehow) after an exhausting climb. And, we could only look out in silence after a moment of cheers, in awe of the achievement and the misery throughout the last 24 hours. 🍻
Day 2 – The Descent
As detrimental and painful it was to the knees and toes, the descending was less miserable (I didn’t say it’s easy). After plenty of slips and fall later, we stumbled back to the base camp with our breakfast served like in a hotel. Scrambled eggs, pancakes and hot tea as the icing on the cake revived our morale, I think. Bags packed, stomachs filled and rubbish cleared (bring your thrash bags guys 😠), we then continued the slippery descent.
The sting in our quads was quite intense but we were sheltered in the dense rainforest of Rinjani for the rest of the hike. We kept looking back to see how far we’ve come and laughed it off. Never ever again, we thought.
While descending the perpetual trail down, never had we thought, we would make it back to the homestay and here we were finally made it. After a quick shower and reuniting with our belongings, Rinjani Samalas package includes a ride back to the airport or to your next location in Lombok. A 2 hours ride down from the north transported our tireless and beaten bodies to a dreamy villa in Senggigi, which we fully-deserved. Yes, we do.
However, as I am penning these words down, the nostalgia and longing to visit the mountains linger and hits me hard. I’ll be back, that’s what Arnold Schwarzenegger said. As great as it feels to be back to civilisation, sometimes you just need to disconnect.
The Rinjani Samalas Experience
Our welfare and hiking itinerary were well-taken care of right when we touched down into Lombok. From airport transfers to being in the clouds to being locked in the toilet at the homestay, you are in safe hands.
The members of this hiking company embody the people of Lombok and that is only the least part of it. Truly, Lombok brings different levels of hospitality and warmth to everyone and that is what makes the Indonesian island of smouldering vistas, beautiful.
And no, this is not a sponsored post.
Lombok, a province in West Nusa Tenggara, has officially received UNESCO Biosphere status. A biosphere reserve is a label given by UNESCO which is a unique ecosystem that is conserved and protected for research and educational purposes. Ecosystem which includes the ever-majestic volcano, Mt Rinjani.
As of today, there are 699 biosphere reserves in 120 countries, 11 of which are located in Indonesia.