Mount Rinjani: 3 Days Trekking On Indonesia's Most Picturesque Volcano
Climbing Mount Rinjani Indonesia - Mountain Stats
- #1 Highest Peak in Lombok
- #2 Highest Volcano in Indonesia
- #30 in Southeast Asia
- Gunung Rinjani
Climbing Mount Rinjani Indonesia - Natural Form and History
Natural Mount Rinjani Indonesia - Natural history
Mount Rinjani belongs to a series of volcanoes that developed in the Lesser Sunda Islands because of Indo-Australian crust’s subduction below these Islands. The source of its magma lies at a depth of 165-200kms. The oldest rocks are from the Mesozoic age. Its caldera formation occurred in the 13th century during what is considered ‘one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions since humans learned to write’ and was subsequently filled by Segara Anak, the crater lake, which till then had been a volcanic mountain named the Samalas which stood higher than Rinjani.
Natural Mount Rinjani Indonesia - Climbing history
Before its eruption in 1847, Mount Rinjani was considered a remote and inaccessible location. Due to this, there is a lack of records with regards to initial expeditions up the mountain. It gained popularity with tourists after the opening of the Rinjani National Park in 1997, but the park has been closed on several occasions since its opening owing to volcanic activity, the latest being in 2016.
Natural Mount Rinjani Indonesia - Current status
In 2016, more than 90,000 trekkers were said to have made their way up Mount Rinjani. The mountain and its satellites that form the Rinjani National Park has a wealth of spectacular views on offer – from the lush forests of the lower ranges to the active cone of the volcano, the Gunung Barujari and the startlingly blue waters of the caldera, the Segara Anak.
Climbing Mount Rinjani Indonesia - Climbing Experience & Itinerary
Climbing Mount Rinjani Indonesia - Climbing Experience
Going uphill from Sembalun takes you through grassy savannahs where the sun is harsh and the inclines gradually become steep as you approach the crater rim. The most difficult parts are the walk up from the crater rim to the summit, and later from the rim down to the crater lake on day 2. Going down to Senaru on day 3 is a little easier, and that’s when some dramatic landscape presents itself with rolling grasslands giving way to exotic rainforests in the last section.
The first part of the walk starting from Sembalum winds through windy grasslands offering some amazing scenery all around and is relatively a breeze. By starting off at a higher elevation you get to avoid the humidity of the rain forests and the walk is pleasant, except perhaps on hot days when the sun decides to beat down on you throughout. The climb starts becoming steeper from POS 3 to the Pelawangan Sembalun base camp (crater rim). Anticipate a steep 3 hour climb. Tall trees in some stretches offer shade to make it a little easier for you to push through. Navigate this section slowly and steadily to make sure you get to the rest stop in time for the overnight break, while your legs remain ready for the next stretch up to the summit next morning. The trek from the crater rim base camp to the summit will really test your physical fitness. The trail to the summit takes you over loose volcanic scree, which you will need to navigate in the darkness of the night, whilst fighting the cold winds. Walking over the scree will be like taking 2 steps forward and 1 step back, as the loose rocks and sand make it nearly impossible for your feet to get a firm grip on the ground. On the way down though, the same scree will be your friend – helping you slide down slowly as every step you take sinks in deep. The climb down from the rim into the crater towards the lake is another steep descent but becomes flatter and easier as you approach the lake. Finally getting from the Pelawangan Senaru base camp to Senaru Village is a steep, rocky and gravelly path that will require your caution in gaining balance and enduring the strain on your legs. Soon the rocks and gravel give way to vast savannahs though, and to tropical rainforests in the final stretch of the hike.
Climbing Mount Rinjani Indonesia - Trail options
There are two well-established trails up Mount Rinjani with a few newer ones also opening up recently. A serious expedition up the mountain will have you touch base at the crater rim, descend to the warm waters of the caldera and also access the summit of the mountain. Less experienced trekkers opt to miss the summit (given the difficulty of the final stretch up the summit) and limit their trek to the crater rim which offers dramatic views. However, allowing yourself three days on the trek will provide the best experience of the mountain with all its variety of flora and fauna as well as the divergent experiences of the crater rim and the summit.
Of the two popular trail options, one provides a scenic walk through rainforests and a visibly changing landscape, while the other requires a greater degree of physical fitness to attempt. Both meet at the crater rim, from where there’s a single trail up to the summit. A combination of the two options is also widely used, with trekkers ascending up to the crater rim via one option and returning down the other.
Climbing Mount Rinjani Indonesia - Support facilities
Guides and porters
Food & water
Climbing Mount Rinjani Indonesia - Safety & Accessibility
The Rinjani trails are closed from January to March due to the rainy season, so the best time to climb are the dry months of April to November. Even though the temperatures in the lower altitudes range between 23-26 degrees, this changes when above 2,000m. The nights can be extremely cold at the base camp, even reaching freezing levels at the summit.
Volcanic activity: Mount Rinjani is an active volcano so you’ll need to stay up-to-date on local developments before embarking on the trek.
Altitude: It is recommended to climb slowly so that you get accustomed to the altitude. Stopping for a few deep breaths every couple of steps will help ease/avoid any discomfort.
Slips and falls: The summit section of this trek is notoriously difficult due to the slippery terrain and steep climb. Make sure you’ve got trekking poles, and do not hesitate to ask your guide for walking sticks if not. You should definitely carry high-calorie protein snacks, pain relief creams/sprays and other necessary medication in your backpack. Lives have been lost on this trek due to an underestimation of the dangers along the way.
The Mount Rinjani trek is popular so it’s highly unlikely you’ll be doing this climb alone. Though the risk of theft is minimal, it is advised that climbers keep their precious belongings like cameras, passports etc. in their possession at all times.
Permits, Fees, and Regulations
You’ll need to book beforehand so you can get the required permit from the Rinjani Information Centre. The entry fee is 150,000 IDR per person/day.
Getting there and away
The nearest airport is the Lombok International Airport, with regular connecting flights from Bali, Jakarta, Singapore etc.
If you’re starting in Senaru village, you’ll be taking a 3-hour drive from the airport circling almost half of the island. To get to Sembalun village, it’s a 2-2.5-hour drive from the airport along the east coast of the island.
Depending on how long you’ll be taking, the cost will be approximately 150,000IDR per person/day. The additional cost of booking a licensed guide and porter will vary depending on where you’ve placed your booking through. To reduce costs, you can always try joining a group so you can share their guide.
Climbing Mount Rinjani Indonesia - Special Tips
Tips for amateur climbers
Trekking poles are a must for this trek.
Tips for women
Many women have climbed Rinjani alone or in groups. Just keep in mind that Lombok is a rather conservative part of Islamic Indonesia, so you’ll need to keep the local customs in mind for before and after your trek.
Tips for trail runners
rinjani100.com takes registrations from October for the races held in May. The various categories include 100km, 60km, 36km and 27km.
Tips for nature lovers
Many like to take a dip in the Segara Anak crater lake. There’s belief that the hot water springs with sulphur-infused thermal waters have healing properties.