Mt. Rinjani: the prequel

I always try to get a mix of culture, adventure and relaxation in my travels. The biggest adventure on our Indonesia trip was without a doubt climbing Mount Rinjani. Located on Lombok, the volcano with a lake and a smaller volcano inside its crater was hard to say no to. Thrust me I’ve tried. After reading some blogs about this and discussing it with somebody I actually knew went up there I was not so keen anymore on doing it myself. But then I knew it was now or never, and I would regret it forever if I didn’t.

Thanks to reading up on it it became pretty clear that chosing the correct guide could easily make or break the trip. So after another big read-up on tripadvisor we decided to go with Syam Trekker. According to many of the reviews this company was reliable, provided great food and equipment, took their trash back down etc.

A driver from the company picked us up in the harbour of Teluk Kode. The drive back to the company was quite long (about 1.5 hours) so our driver wanted to stop along the road to get a drink. We stopped at a typical Indonesian “road-restaurant” so basically a hut where somebody sells drinks and homemade chips. In our case, the “someone” was a friend of the driver and to our blessing the hut was located in a beautiful spot. I have added a picture of the view from the hut. She was superfriendly and we decided to buy her bananas for the western price to her absolute delight.

Moving on, we arrived at the trekking company, where we were friendly received with drinks. Unfortunately  Syam made a mistake noting down that we booked a trip to the summit of Mt. Rinjani whilst we asked for the crater rim trip. Therefore he could only give us a private trip, which costed 180USD pp instead of 165USD pp. He told us he would give us the private package to the rim for  175USD pp which we agreed to. Looking back, this was of course really stupid… It was completely his mistake and I had the emails to prove it so we should have never agreed to paying more. Anyways, being in Indonesia also activated our “we should help wherever we can”-mode so there we were, paying more to save the world.

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The trekking package included a one-night stay at the Mount Rinjani basecamp hotel and a visit to the waterfalls Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep. Let’s start with the Mount Rinjani basecamp hotel. I have put a review on TripAdvisor so you can read the full thing there but what it boils down to is the following: pick another hotel unless you are on a very tight budget :). Other than that, the trip to the waterfalls was also organised by the hotel and this I could really recommend. The waterfalls are stunning and a lot of fun. Our guide was an amusing guy which English was okay and he did not mind snapping a few pictures of us. Although he seemed a bit bored he did not complain when I wanted to stay around a bit longer. Unfortunately we went to the waterfalls in the late afternoon which is probably the most crowded part of the day. If I would go there again, I would really try to get up a bit early and do this first or maybe go by the end of the day to avoid crowds.

When we got back from the waterfall it was only about 4pm. Many people we had met that day talked to us about “stickfighting”. Not sure what to look for, we decided to just follow our ears and arrived at an event comparable to what would be a local soccer game in my country (Belgium). Apparently the “stickfighting” was Presean, a Sasak tradition. It is a tournament consisting of one-to-one battles with (you’ll never guess this) sticks. The idea is basically to hit as hard as you can and the crowds love it. Because we were foreigners we had to buy the VIP ticket (no chance of getting a normal one really) which is 50’000 IDR (3.5 euros) including a small bottle of water. Because of the VIP ticket, you get Indonesian escort to a chair. I promise you, no Indonesian person is sitting on a chair there and you will feel odd. However, leaving your chair is not an option as the people around you might as well be your fellow tunas in a can and they just push you back everytime you try to stand. You will see children climbing trees to avoid the entrance fee and the stick-fighting itself is pretty spectacular. I would really recommend doing it since this is probably one of the most authentic Lombok experiences you can get which is not ruined by tourists yet (we were maybe 15 tourists and hundreds of Indonesian people who do not try to sell you stuff).

After the stick fighting we wanted to take a swim and convinced the nice hotel next to ours to let us take a dip in their amazing infinity pool. As a proper thanks we ordered a few drinks and a bite. Thank you Rinjani Lodge for making me forget the horror at Rinjani Base Camp hotel for at least an hour!

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