An epic volcano hike: Trekking Mt Rinjani

I can still picture us, sipping our cocktails in Gili Islands, watching the sunset over Lombok. -How cool would that be to climb that volcano? -We should do it. Let's do it! Next thing you know, we were off to a new expedition, on the road to a little village down the mountain, ready to climb the majestic Mount Rinjani.

An epic volcano hike: Trekking Mt Rinjani

Situated in North Lombok with an elevation of 3.726m, Mt Rinjani is the 2nd highest volcano in Indonesia. The journey to the summit and back requires a sense of adventure, a serious level of physical fitness -be prepared, or you'll suffer like we did!-, 4 days trekking and a great team. If some guide companies offer to do it 3 days trekking only, we'd strongly recommend you to go for the 4 days / 3 nights package.

Bare in mind that we did almost the entire Rinjani trek under pouring rain, and it still remains as one of our best experiences in Indonesia. It was epic, on many levels. Are you ready for a new adventure? 


Trekking Mt Rinjani in Lombok

The adventure begins with an encounter. First, there is Sujar, our guide. He has done the Rinjani trek many times -trekking, and also running. For this 4 days trek, he's dressed with flip-flops. With him, two porters, both equipped with two big woven baskets hanged on bamboo sticks, full of food and camping gear. Then arrive our adventure companions, M and S, a couple of travelers from New York. They have been on the roads of Indonesia for months and they are CRAZY about this country -that's one thing we have in common!

TREKKING RINJANI, Day 1: A DAY of firsts

The trek starts in a tiny village. The car drops us with all our bags, and here we are, ready to climb that volcano. It looks so far away from here. This is our first trek, thus we are torn between two feelings: excitement and apprehension. 

The sun beats down on the rice fields. It's hot, so hot we have to stop regularly to hydrate. Soon, plains transforms into hilly terrain and sunshine into a fresh mist. As we are gaining altitude, the mist changes into downpour. On the trail, we meet trekkers on their way back -they look exhausted. One of them is crying from pain muscles. -It hurts so much it's killing me, but it's worth it, she said. The most thrilling experience they've had in Indonesia, they say. We continue, happy yet worried.

An epic volcano hike: trekking Mt Rinjani

Seven hours and twelve kilometers later, we see some orange camping tents from afar. This is it! Our camp for the night. The last meters that separate us from the destination are endless. It's so steep. It seems like while we walk, the camp moves away from us. Then we finally get there. 

The camp is already set, and our porters have even prepared us a tea. That's luxury! We spend the evening lounging around with other trekkers with a spectacular view of the caldera and the crater lake. Clouds are dancing around, creating a mystical atmosphere. As soon as the sun goes below the horizon, it quickly become bitter cold, then the rain starts again. We all retreat to our tents. It's time for some serious stretches and Tiger balm massages -essential if we want to be able to walk tomorrow after today's 1.000m positive altitude difference. 

As the rain won't stop, Sujar arrives to serve us dinner in our tents. Nasi Goreng has never seemed that good! We can hear the wind whistle and make our tent flicker outside. It's a real storm. You could think we would have troubles to fall asleep with all that noise, but not after that first day trekking Mt Rinjani. 

Tomorrow, the alarm will ring early. We'll hike by night, to get to enjoy the sunrise from the summit. 

An epic volcano hike: trekking Mt Rinjani

TREKKING MT RINJANI, Day 2: A DAY FIGHTING WITH THE ELEMENTS

2:30 am -Wake up. WAKE UP! It's time...

The rain hasn't stopped for a minute since yesterday. Are we really gonna do that, climbing a volcano by night under the rain, to wait for the sun to rise? No hesitation, we are warriors! We gear up, get outside all set and ready to go and... silence. Everybody is asleep. The guys go wake up our guide Sujar, who laughs and tells us to go back to bed. Too cold, too humid and above all: seriously, what sunrise?! The man makes a good point. It's pouring with rain. 

8:00 am -Good morning again! 

At 2.700m high, our tents open with a stunning view on the caldera. The rain has stopped, pancakes are ready, everybody is well rested. It's time to go climb that volcano! We eat our delicious banana pancakes under the greedy eyes of many, many monkeys, put on our hiking shoes and off we go. Fiiinnally. First steps are though -it's not a trail, it's a wall. And it's not a hike, but a climb! It seems like my body is still asleep -I'm not a morning person today, even after a pancake. What the hell am I doing here? Why trekking Mt Rinjani when I could be napping on a dream beach? 

 
 

After 30 minutes of steep climbing, a beautiful rewards awaits us: atop the crater, a gorgeous view on the lake and the surroundings. We can even see the Gili Islands from here!

Then it gets serious. The rest of the climb will consist on 3 hours walking on sandy gravel that feels like quicksand. It's pretty much like hiking in deep powder, but without the amazing ski run after. Instead, there's this amazing feeling you have when you get on top of a mountain. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We are hiking on the ridge of the volcano, each step bringing us closer to the summit. It's very slippery, and once again, there's no room for mistakes -if you fall, you're done. As it's not enough of a challenge, the rain catches up.

The only thing we can see is clouds, and a lot, a lot of rain. We can't even see the top of the volcano anymore. Sometimes, the fog dissipates to let us have a quick glimpse at the scenery. Beautiful and vertiginous. It comes and go. 

Then, like pure magic, the sun starts to shine again and the fog disappears. I can see a sign in the distance "Congratulations! Mount Rinjani, 3.726m". We made it! Joy replaces fatigue. There are laughs, tears and hugs. We are so happy, hysterical, satisfied, proud. The panorama is exceptional. There is no word for it. 

When we decide to start the descent, naturally... the rain follows. There is absolutely no visibility. Our legs hurt so bad we can't walk normally. We are physically exhausted. And hungry. So we run. We run all the way down to the base camp, for an hour. When we arrive, our shoes are filled with gravel and not only our legs hurt but our feet, too. Our amazing porters / cookers have prepared our lunch -we've dreamed about it! A fried noodle meal and a nap later, we hit the trail destination camp 2. We need to get down the crater before dark. The rain becomes even stronger than before, so strong the trail transforms into a river. It's not trekking anymore, it's canyoning! There's absolutely no view, all we can see it grey, rain, rain, rain and RAIN. Three hours later, our stiff legs have brought us to camp 2.

Review of the day? 9 kms, 8 hours trekking, 1000m positive altitude difference, 2000m negative. We are tired, happy and soaked. Who said the adventure was finished for the day? It's time to hit the HOT SPRINGS! We've dreamed about it! Half naked and headlamps on, we walk through the jungle in the dark, crossing wild pigs and other mysterious animals. I'm frightened and cold, but THAT'S WHAT YOU CALL ADVENTURE! The hot springs are nestled on the side of the mountain, offering a beautiful view on the starry night. It's so pure. Magic!

When we get back to the camp, our gado-gado dinner is ready -a deliciously comforting indonesian dish made with veggies and peanut sauce. So good! Believe it or not, today was a great day! We fall asleep pleased and, once again, exhausted.

Trekking mt rinjani, DAY 3: A day Climbing up a crater

7:00 am -It stopped! The rain stopped! Wake up. WAKE UUUP!
G is amazed. The weather is beautiful today, we have a great view on the crater lake, it's beautiful. Finally! I gear up, get out of the tent and... it starts to rain again. Come on, seriously? 

An epic volcano hike: trekking Mt Rinjani

Later in the morning, as the rain stops, we can enjoy the view on the lake. Then we leave the waterside to climb up the crater -BAM: 700 meters positive altitude difference. We can see afar the summit of Mt Rinjani. It looks so far away already. It could be hard to believe we were there yesterday, if only our legs weren't in so much pain. The unending climb continues, with a fun proper climbing part. We are physically worn-out, but we're still enjoying this. Once we've done the hardest part for the day -or so we thought-, Sujar propose to have a break. -A break? Why? Do we look tired? The view on the crater is incredible. It's the last time we've got to capture it, then we'll get down to camp 3, on the other side of the mountain.

A few cookies later, the descent begins. Which appears to be even worse than the ascent. Our legs are so stiff, bending our knees is a challenge. It seems like my body doesn't respond anymore. It begs me to stop. But we have to get to the camp site, so there we go, each of us with his own tactic to hike down: walking backwards, running, doing the crab walk... I remember that crying trekker we met two days ago and now, I understand.

After six hours of painful/beautiful hike, we arrive at the camp! This is the first camp with a shelter which mean we won't have dinner in our tent tonight -woohoo! As usual, the porters are already there and lunch is ready. Monkeys are all around, waiting for a moment of inattention to steal something. NEVER lose sight of your food -or you'll lose it!

It's still quite early -we have the whole afternoon for ourselves. Relaxing, napping, stretching, snacking and chatting with trekkers from all over the world is on the program. We'll meet incredible people under this shelter, sharing our adventures, projects and dreams. THAT'S WHY YOU TRAVEL!

It's our last night and we already feel the nostalgia -even though we dream about having a shower and sleeping in a proper bed. When time comes to slip inside our sleeping bags, our whole bodies scream in pain. Maybe it's a good thing the trek finishes tomorrow after all. 

trekking mt rinjani, DAY 4: A day walking into THE wild JUNGLE

Last day is a charm: the weather looks gorgeous today. Blue sky and not a cloud in sight. We all gather around some pancakes and tropical fruits before hitting the trail -destination the finish line! The descent should take around 4 hours walk. But after 3 days trekking under the rain, today, we'll take our time and enjoy the sunshine.

An epic volcano hike: trekking Mt Rinjani

That last part of the Rinjani trek brings us into a complete different atmosphere. We hike straight down the mountain through tropical rainforest, down sandy slopes covered with massive tree roots. At some point, Sujar whisper a little "Ssssh". Silence... There's a black monkey on a tree. They're very shy monkeys, it's really rare to see one. We're lucky!

The lush jungle is so beautiful, it feels like walking on a fairyland. Then suddenly, the boys run. I hear them screaming. Whoo-hoooo WE MADE IT!! Arrived. We made it. We trekked the Mt Rinjani.


TRekking mt Rinjani: smart tips

Altitude: 3726m
Duration of the trek: 4 days with approx. 6 hours hike / day -do NOT do 3 days it will disgust you from trekking
Location: Lombok, Indonesia

 
 
 

Guide: Sujar's team was awesome! You can contact him via sujarrinjani@gmail.com

Smart tips:
>> TRAIN BEFORE TREKKING MT RINJANI

At that time we lived in Jakarta and didn't do much sports... But we should have! It took us a full week to recover from that adventure! I could have been easier with some training.
>> Book a beach trip after the trek, you'll need it !

Don't forget:
- insect repellent
- flashlight
- Tiger balm
- Small towel
- sunscreen -we did managed to get sunburned with the tiny little amount of sunshine we got
- raincoat and several pairs of socks (it might be raining... you might be soaked)
- swimsuit for the hot springs -if you don't wanna do like me and go in your underwear... 
- gloves and wool cap (it's cold on camp 1!)
- flip-flops (you'll so enjoy them after a day in your hiking shoes!)
- an extra battery for your camera (except if it rains non-stop, you'll save a lot of energy... and memory card ;))