Mount Rinjani is an active volcano nested on the island of Lombok (Bali’s neighbour). There are several trekking options but if you are pressed for time, and you are sure you are NOT going to attempt to summit, then the 2 Days 1 Night tour of Rinjani’s crater rim is the best one to take!
I’m writing from the point of view of a beginner. If you’re completely new to mountain climbing, or haven’t got much of an experience like me, read on!!!! 🙂 Prior to Rinjani, I’ve only ever trekked the Ijen Crater and I found it to be slightly challenging due to the thin air and probably… my so-so fitness level.
Honestly, I was quite scared because:
1. It was definitely going to be way more difficult than Ijen
2. We need to bring your overnight stuff up, which meant extra weight to carry
3. I’ve never spent a night in a tent and the outdoors before
BUT DON’T BE DISCOURAGED, because the experience is totally worth it! That sense of accomplishment when you have successfully ignored the thoughts of giving up and pushed your own limits to reach the top is the greatest!
The 2D1N Crater Rim Tour Package
I usually love planning my own trips but… with places like these that include long drives, porters, guides, a fair bit organisation is required and so we opted to go with a local tour operator. Plus, I heard that you’re not allowed to trek Rinjani without a guide (unless you sneak in at night).
The package included:
– Transport: pick-up and drop-off service
– One night accommodation in Senaru before the trek
– One night in camping tent at Rinjani Camp Site
– All meals during trek covered: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, fruits, drinks
– Entrance fees/tickets to Rinjani National Park
– English speaking trekking guide
– Porters (carrying logistic and trekking equipment only)
– Camping gear: tent, thick mattress, sleeping bags, chairs, toilet tent, pillow, etc.
You can pay extra for another porter to carry your personal belongings but otherwise, pack light for your trek because you will be carrying all that up to the crater rim by yourself!
Arriving in Lombok from Singapore
There are direct flights to Lombok International Airport, operated by SilkAir but we didn’t take it due to higher ticket prices and limited timing. It would’ve been way less time consuming if we took a direct, but unfortunately we had to transit in Jakarta. It was a good idea to fly with Garuda Indonesia because the transit was less of a hassle, due to the terminals being just next to each other – and we didn’t have to exit the airport.
Opted for the shortest transit, which was 5~6hrs for the whole journey duration. So we had about 2-3 hours in Jakarta airport to kill.
Note: I remember taking Lion Air and the transit in Jakarta was quite stressful. Nobody knew what was going on or where to go, and for some strange reason we landed in an area where the terminals were so far apart (we had to take a bus). Also, our Rinjani guide also told us that delayed flights up to 2-3 hours with Lion Air is not unusual either.
Senaru Village – the gateway point to Rinjani
We arrived at about 7pm, our driver picked us up and headed off to our one night’s accommodation in Pondok Senaru Cottages – which was actually quite a nice place (well, I’m just judging other accom from the outside). The compound itself was spacious, with a huge garden and a beautiful view of the Rinjani summit. The trip took about 2.5 hours and I started to feel nauseated towards the end because of the winding roads.
The room itself was basic, with a nice four-poster bed and honestly you can’t expect much from the bathroom in these kinda remote places anyway. It was sufficient 🙂 Packed everything into our hiking bag, left all our other belongings in the luggage for them to keep, and called it a night.
Next morning, we were set to head off to the starting point at 7am, so breakfast was prepared for us at 6.30am. The surroundings were beautiful and we could see the Rinjani summit peak from our hotel garden. So beautiful!
Hopped on a motorbike to the visitors centre. Registered our names in the logbook and was given this tag to attach to our bag. Such a cute souvenir lol love it.
The Trek (Senaru – Rinjani campsite)
So here we go! Ready with my hiking stick. I just wore a dryfit tee, Nike sports shorts and hiking shoes. It gets cold up there but not when you are dripping with sweat from the trek!
Walked all the way into the park until we reached this sign. This is the 0km mark! I started slapping on more sunscreen just in case the sun gets too crazy. However, the trek for the next 5-6 hours is pretty much sheltered by trees though.
So we begin our hike at about… 730am!
Starting elevation: 600m
The trek pretty much looks like this all the way whilst you are still in the forest. Sometimes the path is like neat little ‘stairs’, but it can become very irregular. Occasionally you get a breather with flat trek but that doesn’t last for more than a minute or so.
The first part of the trek is fine, just a gradual uphill incline, then it starts to get slightly steeper and more challenging. Still manageable, and not hot at all due to the shade. Plus, the overall temperature is cooling anyway when you’re in Senaru area already.
Stopped at every checkpoint (Pos 1, Pos Extra, Pos 2, etc.) to take a water break and catch our breath. But it’s not recommended to stop for too long though, because it’d be harder for you to kick start again. I just get very happy whenever I see a ‘pondok’ (these type of shelters) because it means we probably gained a significant amount of elevation! Woot!
Pos 1 elevation: 915m
Total gained so far: 315m out of 2,000m
Our guide was cleaning up the trash left behind by other people which was quite nice of them. I think the tour operator we went with encourages our guides to clean up and care for the environment, which is why I like them so much.
Continued on, and the path is not as ‘easy’ as before because you do have to concentrate on where you are stepping. It’s still easy, but it also meant that I probably had a higher chance of spraining my ankle if I were not careful enough.
Saw another pondok and we finally reached Pos 2! This is sort of the halfway mark. I was very excited because I knew we finally get to take a longer break, because it was time for lunch!! Yay! We reached here at about 10am.
Pos 2 elevation: 1,500m
Total gained so far: 900m out of 2,000m
Relaxed and let our legs rest for a bit at Pos 2, while our guide and porters cook our lunch. It was quite crowded here because everyone usually stops here for a lunch break. We were provided a nice mat and chairs. At this point, during rest, I started to feel cold… This is where my windbreaker comes in handy.
I absolutely enjoyed our lunch though! I was very shocked! I didn’t expect to have such a huge variety of meals during the trek. We were served something different each meal. Anyway, our lunch was super yummy and the portions were huge. We kept having trouble finishing our meals haha.
Anyway, the fun is over. It’s time for us to head to Pos 3 and this felt like the longest part of the trek. The trek itself still not super challenging, but it was just tiring to have to go non-stop for two hours. At some point, I felt a little frustrated because it felt like we were never going to reach Pos 3.
I didn’t even take any photos of Pos 3 because I was so tired and sweaty, and I just wanted to have some oreos to make me feel better. Our guide had so many snacks tucked inside his bag, it’s amazing.
Pos 3 elevation: 2,000m
Total gained so far: 1,400m out of 2,000m
This is where it started to get depressing. As we were walking from Pos 2 to Pos 3, I was asking my guide, “How is the trek going to be like later? Is this the hardest part?” and I immediately wished I did not ask.
He answered, “The most difficult part is Pos 3 to the campsite.”
To be honest, I was extremely demoralised. Like, “Whyyyyyyy……..” Yeah, this is the part where I have to force myself to stop being so whiny, and just fight through it. I’m sure it was chill for other experienced trekkers, but I have to stress that I am NOT an experienced one. I can hike, but when it comes to doing it for prolonged hours, my legs will inevitably start to give way.
So, after a brief stop, we set off again for the final and hardest part of the journey.
The trees disappeared, and the terrain has changed into a savanna setting. There were 4 hills before reaching the camp site if I remembered correctly. The forest trails were so much easier in comparison to these hills. Suddenly, it feels like we are almost at a 45~50 degree gradient climb.
I remember seeing some people ahead of us just moving on without taking a break, and it made me felt incredibly low. The only way to push myself is to remind myself that the campsite is just up ahead – I just gotta keep pushing.
It started to get steeper and steeper, and the sandy path changed to rocks. Two more rocky hills to go, and we will be there. At some point, I had to neglect my hiking stick and use two hands to pull myself up. It was almost like rock climbing already!
And yet so many porters carrying 25kg worth of camping and cooking equipment, and slippers, just breeze past us like it was no big deal. Moment of shame right there for us!
Finally, the battle was over. We have reached the camp site at about 3pm but unfortunately, we were greeted with not a beautiful view but bad weather. It was so foggy, we couldn’t even find our porters on the other side of the hills. Our guide had to shout to get their location.
Campsite elevation: 2,600m
Total elevation gained: 2,000m
So we couldn’t see anything, and we didn’t even know where the crater lake was supposed to be. The visibility was very bad. On top of that, it started raining, so we had to retreat to our tent for shelter. I will not elaborate much on how upset I was… but to skip to the good part.
The cloudy skies and rain did not clear until way into the night. For some reason, I woke up around 2am and decided to take a peek outside. Turns out, it was definitely worth doing so! Incredibly starry nights and beautiful Milky Way all up in our face! Time to break out the tripod and camera!
It also meant that we could catch the tiny light trail of the people fighting their way to the top of the Rinjani summit (~3,600m)! We could also catch the soft and eerie glow of the smaller volcano.
We could still enjoy the stars, even in the comfort of our own tent. We had to go back inside because it was getting toooooo cold!
The experience on the crater rim
It was nothing short of wonderful. We woke up to clear skies and a great view. The clouds hovering around the lake have cleared, and we can finally see how it looks like! I was SO SO SO relieved.
Nothing better than waking up to fresh air and a million dollar view. Even more rewarding knowing that you have worked hard for this amazing experience! Hello, Gunung Rinjani! You really are beautiful! 🙂
Here’s a preview of how your toilet looks like on the mountains (that red tent there). You gotta do your business over a hole they dug. That was definitely a virgin experience for me right there. True outdoors, right?
For the photography freaks: I had to keep monitoring the ‘condition’ of the view. The changes are subtle, but can affect how your photo turns out so much. Sometimes it’s cloudy, sometimes the angle of the sun makes the view looks faded and unimpressive, sometimes the sun rays are stronger and hits the crater better – the only way is to spam it and pick from your camera roll for that perfect shot.
Our accommodation for the night. It was my first time camping outdoors and I’m glad I chose to experience it on the Rinjani crater rim. It was awesome, even though I had to violate my own personal hygiene code (such as not being able to shower).
Breakfast itself during sunrise was amazing because we had yummy pancakes and fries, and one hell of a view to go with it. On top of that – hot chocolate to beat the shivers. Hell yes!
Telephoto lens have proven themselves to be super useful in a mountainous setting. I used an inexpensive Sigma 70-300mm lens to get closer to the action, especially the small volcano.
We can also see Bali from the crater rim. Pictured below is the Mt. Agung from Bali, and the three Gili islands!
Attempted a panorama with my iPhone
Heading back down to Senaru Village
It was time to say goodbye. We stayed a bit longer, and only started descending at about 8 to 8.30am. Our guide said people usually left at about 7am, but we decided to soak up more of the atmosphere. After all, we worked for it, right? Hehe!
Going back down is a whole different story. See, the problem with going up is that your legs are quite tired, and your lungs may be working a lot too. However, there was something to anticipate. Going down however… was just annoying to me because I just wanted to skip everything, and be back in the village already.
I wasn’t out of breath, and I wasn’t tired to begin with. I thought going downhill was easy peasy compared to going up. It was true, but a few hours later, it was not the case anymore.
I read somewhere that going down the stairs is bad for your knees, and I started to believe it. My knees were starting to hurt a lot after 2-3 hours of descending. They were shaking. Every time we stopped for the porters to overtake us, my shaky knees felt like they couldn’t support me any longer. But nothing you can do but to keep pushing!
We stopped at Pos 2 again for a quick lunch break. As we moved on, it started to pour. The rain was refreshing at first, then it got really tiring. It was already slippery going downhill, but the sand has turned into slippery mud which slowed down our descent dramatically.
We finally reached the village at about 2.30pm!!!!
Our tour operator provided us a quick place to shower and wash off the dirt, and dropped us off at our resort in Senggigi. We only stayed there for a night, didn’t really get to enjoy the beach much. Wish we had more time – we definitely would’ve gone over to one of the Gili islands for some diving and relaxation time!
One thing that helped me a lot was the hiking stick. I couldn’t have done the hike without it. I really would’ve fallen down during the descent if not for its support. Better get one for this trip or find a wild stick in the forest!
The temperature can be in between 5-10 degrees Celcius when you are at the crater rim, so even though you need to pack light, you also need to pack warm enough. Although there are fleece sleeping bags/blankets provided in the tent, I still needed my warm layers.
– A good backpack with lumbar support and padded waist strap!!!!
I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS. SERIOUSLY! The waist strap takes the load off your shoulders, and instead puts the weight of the backpack on your hips instead. So you don’t feel the weight load as much as you would without. You might feel that your bag is at a relatively OK weight but trust me, after 8-9 hours of trekking, it’s going to feel like a huge bag of sand.
– Hiking shoes
– Flip flops (for when you are walking about at the campsite)
– Two pair of socks (thick ones helped me to prevent blisters)
– Two dryfit shirts (you will sweat a lot, and they are very light to pack)
– A pair of sport dryfit shorts (if you don’t mind re-wearing them)
– A pair of long johns (for the cold night)
– A warm pullover
– A warm downjacket or fleece
– A windbreaker
So these are the most basic and essential clothing I can afford to bring up to the crater rim. Any more, you’d have to see for yourself whether you are okay to bring up extra weight. The next list is extra stuff you might find useful to bring up…
– Trekking pole (SO HELPFUL!)
– Hat (for when the trees disappear and it gets hot, I didn’t use it due to cloudy conditions)
– Gloves (only necessary when you want to stay out in the cold at night)
– Headlamp (if you want to manoveur around in the dark, as the cliffs are dangerous)
– Power bank
– Hand sanitiser
– Wet wipes (this was my form of ‘shower’)
– Small towel
– Blister pack (if you do get blisters, but I didn’t though)
– Sunscreen (important as it may get very hot on the savanna terrain)
– Ziplock bags or plastic bags (for your dirty clothes)
– Snacks or chocolate bars
I didn’t bring up any insect repellent but I sprayed some before I headed off to the trek though. As for the camera part, I just brought the bare minimum, such as a tripod and spare batteries. Prior to the trip, I took some altitude sickness pills and menstrual delay pills (both only available at Guardian with prescription). Good luck!!!!!!
We managed to catch the Rinjani summit whilst flying back to Singapore via Jakarta. It was pretty surreal to see it on a plane 🙂
Gunung Rinjani, thank you for the wonderfully breathtaking (in both senses) experience! Can’t do it without our AMAZING guide and porters! Indonesia, stay beautiful as always! 🙂