In Indonesia, mountains are considered sacred. Most of them are volcanic peaks, like the venerated Mount Agung on the island of Bali. Mount Rinjani, on the island of Lombok, is one of these. With an elevation of 3,726m above sea level, it’s the second highest peak in Indonesia.
The three-day hike is not for the faint-hearted, but the reward is something next level, for both the eyes and the soul. Check out our complete guide to trekking Mount Rinjani and get inspired by the mesmerizing images.
Although some avid hikers try to hike Mount Rinjani by themselves, it’s highly recommended to organize the trek with guides. Don’t worry about booking your tour before arriving in Indonesia. In both Bali and Lombok, you’ll find many tour operators offering the trip. The prices vary, but also the quality. The hike is tough, so better to pay a little bit more and go with expert guides, with good equipment (tents, camping gear etc) in an average size group. Do the hike over three days for the most enjoyment. Make sure to pack warm, waterproof and windproof clothes. Here is how the trip should unfold.
The day before the hike, you can find cheap accommodation in the village of Sembalun (1,150m). That’s where the hike to Mount Rinjani will start, at 6 am, on day one. The plan for the first day is to reach Sembalum Crater Rim (2,639m).
The climb on the first day starts sweetly. Trotting on a gentle path cutting through green vegetation, the hike to Mount Rinjani seems easier than anticipated. The group is excited and adrenaline drives legs and soul during the first hours. However, after lunch, expect a three-hour prolonged, steep and dusty climb. Never underestimate the journey, but as always when hiking, feel and respect your body. Patience and resilience are the best qualities of expert climbers.
The hike to Mount Rinjani can be done without local guides. By showing a paper with an official permit, prepared hikers can attempt the trek solo. However, having expert guides leading your journey could be essential to your trek. They’ll be your superheroes, carry all the camping gear, and, most importantly, they are local so they know the mountain, her secrets, moods, history. Connection with the surrounding natural environment is essential when hiking, as much as having the latest gear. Also, a good guide will motivate you during your lowest moments, one step at a time.
The afternoon of day one challenges the most expert climbers. The path to the first campsite is steep and dusty. Your heart will race, the air becomes colder and rarefies, and, usually, legs and feet will hurt. But the adrenaline will definitely be present. Upon reaching the crater rim, the silence and view will fill your heart with blissful and unique joy. Every drop of sweat will make you smile.
The best feeling of accomplishing the first part of a hike, is when you take off the boots, walk barefoot to let the feet connect with the soil and breathe. Yes, breathe in the air. Also, and most importantly, what’s more rewarding than a well-deserved and hot meal prepared by the guides? And to jump in a tent with a view that a five-star hotel will never have. You’ll have a million-star accommodation, with the sky as a blanket and the excitement rocking you to sleep.
A good sleep is a key factor in your quest to Mount Rinjani. Day two will start very early in order to reach the summit by sunrise.
The second day is the day. And it starts very early when the mountain is still asleep, ready to wake at sunrise when the group reach the summit.
An important note here: the hike to Mount Rinjani is not only about reaching the summit. Once again, listening and respecting your body is a key aspect on a trekking adventure. The journey is worth it anyway. The sights, views and nature are mesmerizing, also below the summit. So if someone feels exhausted from the climb during the first day, it’d be wise not to push it too much.
Day two starts at 2:30 am. After a light breakfast, at 3:00 am, the last part of the ascend starts. It takes approximately three hours, with the first two fairly easy, but the last part is very steep, with loose stones and slippery dirt. It’s tough. But the smile you’ll have at the top will make it so worth it. Reaching almost 4,000m above sea level, the view will be something that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. You’ll be able to admire Lombok, Sumbawa, Bali and Segara Anak Lake, while the sunrise will gently caress your skin and warm your tired body.
Time to empty the shoes from the dirt, and right after sunrise the descend will commence. What seems to be the easiest part, will still turn out to be tiring. With fatigued legs and muscles from the two-day steep ascend, always be careful when going down. Make sure not to put too much pressure on your knees and mind the slippery ground. Good tips for every hike.
The first stop of the descend will be the camp on the crater rim, where you camped the night before. You’ll have a rich breakfast to nourish both the body and the soul.
The journey will then continue towards the caldera, partly filled by the crater lake named Segara Anak or Anak Laut (Child of the Sea, because of its crystalline blue color likeness to the ocean). Both the lake and mountain are considered sacred by the local Sasak tribe and the Hindu tradition, so you might be able to assist with ceremonies on the caldera as well.
It will take about three hours to reach the lake, where you’ll have lunch and have the chance to jump into the hot springs (careful: they are very hot!). Do not forget your bikini, then. That will soothe your body from the fatigue of the hike. It’ll probably be the best, and most deserved, moment of the trip.
After an energizing and reinvigorating rest by the hot springs, it’s time to head back to the crater rim to have dinner, enjoy the sunset and get some deserved sleep.
Even the descend will be full of surprises: you’ll be mesmerized by the rich tropical flora and fauna. Discover the majestic fig trees and the giant Syzygium Jambu. With a little bit of patience, you might also encounter some unique bird species, like honeyeaters, cockatoos and green hanging parrots. Also, you might stumble upon some local monkeys, even when on the crater rim.
The descend will end where it started on day one, in Sembalun. Legs will be tired, but your heart and soul will be filled with the joy of the unique views and emotions felt up the sacred Mount Rinjani. Long lasting memories that you’ll never forget.