After a short night of sleep (thanks to the incredibly uncomfortable accommodation at Rinjani Base Camp hotel, good breakfast and incredible view there though…) it was time to commence our trekking trip to the crater rim of Mount Rinjani. There are two ways to climb Mt. Rinjani, one trek starts from Sembalun and the other from Senaru. We picked the Senaru hike as this one goes through the rain forest and the other one is continuous savana.
Two motorbikes brought us to the entrance of the national park in Senaru where we met our guide Andy. After checking in into the national park and join the immense list of Rinjani-visitors, it was time to start walking the long way up. The first part of the climb is just a semi-steep road. But don’t be fooled, soon after starting to wonder what the fuss is about you arrive to the real entrance of the park and the jungle starts.
When hiking Rinjani from Senaru, there are three intermediate resting places called “Positions”. I was very hopeful when we reached Position 1. The trek had been incredibly beautiful, I was under the impression of the rain forest surroundings and the trek itself was not too difficult so far. I had high hopes, and they remained high although the trek became harder on our way to Position 2. Motivated by the thought of lunch promises at Postion 2, we went for it. By the time we reached Position 2 I must admit I was feeling as if I just ran a marathon without preparation and ready to fall dead instead of reaching the top. This made me feel very ashamed since next to our guide Andy, we had two porters accompanying us who were carrying our tents, sleeping gear and food next to their own stuff. On slippers. Twice as fast.
And the next part of the trek… well… Let’s put it like this: I am not particularly keen on doing that again. The fatigue kicked in, accompanied by humidity, heat and a steeper path ahead. I have read it on other travel blogs, and I will repeat it here again. Climbing Mt. Rinjani is no walk in the park. Now you will think what I thought: “they all say it is oh so hard but they all still manage to take pretty pictures at the top so how hard can it be for real??”. HARD. If you don’t hike often (like me), you don’t have the best condition in the world (like me) and you only hike because of the photographs (like me), you will have a serious motivation problem somewhere in between Position 2 and 3. Apparently this happened more often so someone smart decided to put an intermediate position in between 2 and 3. As happy as I was to see it when it showed up, as devastated was I when I learned it was not the 3 I was so badly hoping for. We took quite a rest and got some pleasant company. The monkeys lifted my mood instantly. Andy thought I could use another mood-lifter and gave me oreo’s. Now, I don’t know how you eat oreo’s, but I love to twist the cookies apart and lick the cream from in between. The monkeys saw me do this and one apparently thought it was an amazing idea. He came sit in front of me, put on his cutest puppy face, got his oreo as a reward and decided twisting and licking is the way to go. Motivated by the thought of seeing more of them, we continued our trek to Position 3, after which the real hell could break loose.
And with hell I mean savana. Savana as in no shade, no monkeys, no other “Position” except the very end at the rim of the volcano’s crater. Although we had finished the main part of the trek, and the end was so near, my motivation went from hero to zero after ten minutes of climbing and I had a complete breakdown. Andy (sitting near Position 3 in the picture below) decided to give us a head-start and insistid on carrying my backpack. For your information, my backpack was weighing about 1 kg and I was incredibly embarrassed that he wanted to carry that for me on top of his 15+ kg backpack. I felt like a spoilt little western brat and had a mental breakdown next to the physical one about halfway through the savana. I forgot to mention that Andy is a smart one though. When I tried to convince him I could not do it, I would never make it and I was just a ridiculous blonde western girl, his reply was simply “I did not have to carry you so far…”. Completely surprised by that answer, I assumed he was joking. Actually, he wasn’t. Apparently most Chinese women get carried up the mountain by their guide… An incredibly patient Andy (hallelluja, if you ever read this, I can not thank you enough for that) decided to let me have a rest literally every ten steps I did.
Completely exhausted, both physically and mentally, we reached our camping spot. The porters had put up our tents already and prepared one of the greatest Indonesian snacks in history: fried bananas with syrup and cheese. Before you go “ewww”, just travel there and try it. It is heaven on a plate. Andy suggested to go up to the rim to have a look at the view we were dying to see. Now here it comes: the bloody thing was completely cloudy. I had just spent about nine hours climbing a mountain I was in a love-hate relationship with at the moment and it was all for nothing except a few clouds…
Angry but too tired to make a fuss, we returned to the camp ground where our porters had prepared amazing food for us. And when the Sun decided to set, we were treated to an incredible view. Not the one we were hoping for, but astonishingly beautiful in its own. We had an intense conversation with Andy about dreams for the future, cultural differences and happiness under a sky full of stars, and the world finally seemed like a good place again.
The night was long and cold. Our trekking company had provided mats and sleeping bags, and although they were all from premium brands I think they lost their warmth capacity by being washed too often. In the morning we went back up to the edge of the rim and decided to sit it out until we actually managed to see what we came for. After about 15 minutes of scared and impatient sitting around, there it was: the volcano in the lake in the volcano. The view everyone suffers for for at least a day.
After this moment of satisfaction, it was time to go back down. Luckily for me going down is easier than going back up, and we advanced pretty well. Untill somewhere between Pos 2 and Pos 1, I twisted my ankle. Overtaken by fatigue and unbelief, I needed a while to get myself together. There was no other solution than continue walking/limping down. Of course this was not the easiest thing to do in a rain forest full of branches and pits. It was almost inevitable that I twisted the same ankle a second time. If it was not painful before, it was definitely painful now and Andy decided to call a doctor to wait for us at the entrance to the national park. Finally arriving at the entrance again, the doctor appeared to be an Indonesian guy who put on a white t-shirt for the occasion with only one goal: get me on the back of his ambulance aka motorcycle and drive me down the steep road at a tempo which would have made him world champion in Francorchamps. With a hurt ankle, a few good photographs of the view we came for and a victorious feeling (even though I wanted to quit so often, I did it!) we said goodbye to Andy and our porters and went on to the next adventure: my well-deserved Gili retreat…
Tips & Tricks
- Take a ferry to Lombok as described in the prequel
- We arranged our hike through Syam Trekker. Syam was always friendly and fast in replying to my emails. Unfortunately when we arrived he thought we wanted to book a private tour, whilst we actually wanted to go with a group. He made us pay something in the middle eventually which afterwards, I am not so happy with since the mistake was made on his side. I was also not happy with the accommodation he gave us, although they lived up to their promise of showing us the waterfalls as I requested. I was incredibly happy with our guide and our porters, and with the food and the fact that everything was well-organised. We were picked up in time as promised from the ferry harbor and brought back in time as well. I heard other stories such as guides climbing with speakers disturbing the environment, leaving trash behind etc. I cannot complain about any of these things. If you wanna play safe, I think you can book through Syam and perhaps ask him to book other accommodation or do that on your own. If you don’t care that much about playing safe, you will probably be cheaper off if you book it locally instead of upfront.