Gunung Rinjani : The trek you will never forget
All You Need To Know About Trekking Rinjani (Almost)
Gunung Rinjani ( 3,726 m) contains one of the best treks South-East Asia has to offer. In fact, in my opinion, it was one of my most memorable and enjoyable treks. Okay, “enjoyable” might not be the best word to use. This trek is a pretty holistic and all-encompassing trek, with its breath-taking amazing sights, wide variety of trails, tiring yet not too technically difficult which makes it possible for amateurs to complete.
“If I had only 1 trek that I could do in South-East Asia, it would no doubt be Mount Rinjani.”
Just a teaser : volcanic lakes to swim in, savannah grass to breeze through, boulders and rocks to climb, breath-taking sunsets and sunrises you’ll never forget, plus the innumerable stars you’ll try to count while camping at the top of a mountain. What is there not to love about this?
Having said that, a certain amount of fitness, combined with iron-will is most likely required to enjoy the trek and complete the trek. Like most treks, I believe if you have a strong enough will and is able to keep going one-step at a time, you’ll be able to complete it, it is just about how long you take.
You need at least 3 days for the trip unless you’re crazy and decide to do a 2 day 1 night climb ( by the same route) or you’re running up and down Rinjani so you can complete it in a day. Most people combine it with exploring Bali (massage, beach, relax, important things after a 3 day climb), or going diving at the Gili islands after the climb. Others explore the Flores islands to the east of Lombok. Therefore, climbing Rinjani makes a good 4 day trip by itself, or a 1-week trip when combined with other sites.
*Shoutout to Yuk Lun and Jingzhou (the king) for coming on this trip with me and celebrating my birthday!
Essential Trip Expenses :
Total Budget : SGD 280-350
As I did this trek in 2013, prices have changed from then in terms of the trek prices, but the price estimates are pretty much accurate.
Return Flight to Bali : SGD 126.
Accommodation : Free! In the mountains!
Taxi to Padang Bai : ~300,000-350,000 Rp
Slow Ferry to Lombok and back : 45,000 X 2
Package Trips :
3D2N Rinjani Trek with Ariee : RP 1,250,000 (~SGD 125)
Tips : Up to you, but seeing how much they carry, your food, water, tents, I think they deserve quite a bit. 150,000 RP is usually the standard.
Essential packing list : A good jacket that can withstand cold and the wind. Headlights. Hiking pole if you have. Rain cover for your bag. Emergency dry set of clothes. Tripod + Camera to capture the night sky!
The first thing you need to know is that Rinjani is in Lombok, which is the island beside Bali. If you think island means small, just google the size of Bali, Lombok, and then Singapore. They are all way bigger than Singapore.
There are several ways to get to Lombok, and how you do so depends on what kind of trip you are looking at.
1) Direct flight to Lombok.
This is the most comfortable option and it can be inexpensive. It usually costs slightly more to fly directly to Lombok. Moreover, from Singapore, only Silkair and Airasia has the route to Lombok and only 3 times a week. You can fly direct from other Indonesian cities too and its cheaper. You could fly from Bali-Lombok but I wouldn’t advise that cause the cost and the time taken is the same as the fast Ferry (transport to airport etc)
2) Fast Ferry to Lombok
The other alternative is taking a fast boat which takes 2 hours and cost about 250.000 IDR or more. This is the most popular option. By Perama, the first boat is at 8:00 am and the last at 1:30pm I think. There are of course other fast boat options which you can get there. You can also get it as part of a package for Rinjani, or for Gili islands. They usually drop off at Senggigi I believe.
Once you are at the harbour in Lembar you can take a taxi and negotiated the price. The cost of the taxi is 35.000 IDR for person and it takes 45 minutes. It is possible also to take a bus if you arrive during the day the cost is 15.000 IDR, but at night they used to charge 30.000 IDR for person.
If you decide to carry on to Senaru by taxi it is approximately 4 hours in total. The price from Mataram to Senaru is 350.000 IDR. It’s also negotiable.
3) Slow ferry to Lombok.
This is the cheapest option from Bali. The only downside is the transport to Padang Bai which factors in as cost, but if you split it with people its definitely cheap.
You can take the ferry from Padang Bai to Lembar. The 24h operational slow ferry cost 45.000 IDR (2015, March) and takes 4 hours 30 minutes apparently, but let me tell you it takes around 6h most likely if you include waiting and docking time. The ferry can take long time to turn. There is a ferry trip every hour from what I remember. However, you get to travel like the locals do, which makes it an interesting experience.
Choosing your Trek
You can book your trek in Bali or Lombok. I guess for the cheapest option, it would be to go straight to Lombok and book there. The general rule of thumb is the closer you are to the trek, the cheaper it becomes. If you intend to do it yourself, I think it is possible but you need to bring your own camping equipment, register at the office. Most people go with a guide ( provides them with a source of income).
TIP : To get a reasonable price for your hikes, the general rule is to always negotiate in the country’s currency. For most cases, it works. Try to almost always negotiate in Indonesian Rupiah. Also, try not to reveal the number of people you are going with first when you are asking for the prices. The more people you have, the stronger your bargaining power.
If you choose to get to Bali or Lombok and book there, do realize that most of the time these people are the agents. If you choose to do so, it is advisable to make sure you know every detail of your trek and who you are going with.
Here is a list of some essential information you should have to make your decision.
1) The guides
There are guides who can speak english, and guides who are just there to bring you up. The most expensive ones are usually the ones who can converse, tell you more about the Rinjani, the stories, the culture, the history.
Most importantly, it is ideal to get local guides, guides who are responsible or at least guides who know what they are doing. You also want to have responsible guides and porters who do not just throw trash around(hopefully) or burn plastic. For me, its important to see that guides are passionate about respecting, preserving and teaching people about this amazing area. They should have walkie-talkies as Rinjani is still an active volcano. The good thing about settling your trek before you get there is that you can be assured by who you are dealing with.
*When I first started writing this post, I wanted to teach people how to be the most hardcore budget traveller ever, but that’s not really it. There are definitely ways to do it even cheaper. Most importantly however, you can be budget, but still be mindful about how your money impacts the people and the environment. Sometimes it might be better to pay slightly more. When you see how tough their lives are, you will wonder whether that extra 5-10 dollars that you save makes more difference in your life than others. Therefore, I believe it is just most important to know who you are going with, and to understand where your money would be going. So do get to know your organizer and your guides.
2) Number of you’re going with on the trek
Some guides bring like 15-20 people. It can be a chore when you’re grouped with many different people with different pace. It would be good to know the guide-people ratio as well as porter-people ratio. Usually there is at least a guide per 4-6 people.
3) What is provided
Depending who you book with, some have better food, some have better beds, some set up toilet areas for you, and some provide unlimited water. I guess water provision is the most important. You just want to make sure they provide the tents for you, and the entrance fee is covered. Request for a breakdown, they usually give it.
4) The itinerary and route to choose, and number of days.
There are a few routes in to the summit. The route from Senaru and the route from Sembalun are the 2 most popular routes, while there are the lesser known ones which I won’t touch on as they are seldom offered and I didn’t do it. The main difference for the routes is on which day do you wish to scale the summit.
It makes more sense to do 4 days if you wish to have more time to enjoy the scenery or take more time to go down. You get to camp at the lake which is quite nice if you take 4 days I guess.
Senaru : You get to see the crater rim and sites around the lake on the way up. The first day is a long walk through the forest which I personally do not like. I always prefer ending in a forest because I find the forest walks boring so it becomes more of a GTFO mountain time. I don’t like going to the summit on latter days as I think I’ll be too tired. You’re going all the way down after the summit. Ending at Sembulun is quite nice though as you will walk through the grassy patches and the villages.
Sembulun : I prefer the one from Sembalun as it takes me to the summit on the first day, and I rather go back down on the gentle forest ground. It is just the reverse route of Senaru. The difference is, whether you do 3 or 4 days, the first day is always the summit day.
Like most treks, Rinjani is best climbed or should I say, can only be climbed during the dry season, which is from April-November. Be warned, the trekking trails are generally closed outside of those periods, which is during the rainy season. The peak season is usually from June-August. I went in end June and it wasn’t so crowded, I heard it gets way way more crowded in July-August. How the crowds affect you, is essentially when you camp, for the nights and for food and at the crater lake.
Too many people jostling for camp sites, the lake or the spring, makes it quite unpleasant, especially with some of the trash accumulated. As it is a longer hike, please be mindful of the trash and as the saying goes, take nothing but photographs/memories, leave nothing but footprints.