Many people hiking up Mt. Rinjani come straight from Gili Trawangan after several nights of heavy partying, or out of spontaneity while visiting Lombok. Some of them was stumbling over the first day “finish line” to the crater rim looking just as happy or even more happy, than the rest of the hikers. However, for the rest of those who started at the same time as we did, didn’t make it to the summit or gave up half way through the last 100m.
Coming from the background of many many years of hiking experiences in the North, the key factor that contributes to failure or success of a hike is preparation to maximize comfort level of one’s journey. I could tell very easily from the apparent looking zombie faces (even though most of us do look like it) on the way back down to the foot of Rinjani.
Lesson: Preparation. Because, it is not only for your own safety but also to ensure you would have a pleasant (or it isn’t, lol) memorable experience.
So what are the things we should consider in the preparation phrases?
Below is the list of the major points you should take into consideration:
- Travelling to Mt.Rinjani, Lombok from another country.
- Should you book Rinjani tour online?
- Which route to hike? How long does it take to climb Mt.Rinjani? Details analysis of two main routes – which one is more challenging?
- Which tour company to choose?
- Hiking clothes and mountain gears, what to pack?
- Fitness level and tips to avoid fatigue.
- Planning to go without porter and guide?
Travelling to Mount Rinjani, Lombok from another country:
2 ways you can get to Lombok:
- By air: Lombok airport is an international airport, you can either take direct international flight to Lombok or domestic flight from Bali airport to Lombok.
- By sea: Fast boat service can be booked from Kuta, Semiyak 1 day in advanced from any tour company booths. Two ways would cost 900,000 IDR – 1,200,000 IDR/ person. You will get a coach transfer to Padang Bai and then depart on fast boat to Lombok.
From Lombok, if you have not booked your Mt.Rinjani tour, you can either book indirectly at the habour through an agent or taking a taxi to Senaru Village to book directly with the tour company. All tour companies are located at Senaru Village.
Alternatively, if you already booked your tour from Kuta, Semiyak or through online website, you can request for transportation. They will arrange it for you. Additional cost may apply.
Flight to Bali international airport -> fast boat -> Lombok -> tour company arranges for transportation from Habour to Sembulan or Senaru Village.
Should you book the Mount Rinjani tour online?
Yes and no.
- Save time, energy.
- Everything is arranged including transportation from airport.
- More expensive 20%-30% higher than booking directly in Senaru Village or Lombok area.
- Not many options, not able to bargain since the price is fixed on the website, not able to inquire and get throughout understanding, details explanation about the routes, services, foods, etc.
- Which route to hike? How long does it take to climb Mt.Rinjani? Details analysis of two main routes – which one is more challenging?
Before booking the guide and porter, you need to decide on the route and number of trekking days. There are tours range from 5D/4N to 2D/1N. Two main routes:
- Sembalun Village: The route will take 3 days 2 nights with stopover at the hot spring before going to the crater rim for another night camping to summit the following morning. The most challenging part about this route is the descent to the hot spring and then ascent from the hot spring to the crater rim. Which was, to us not really appealing since I and Kelin only wanted to hike to the summit with full-speed energy level.
- Senaru Village: Fastest tour: 2 days 1 night with option 3 days 2 nights to hot spring and exit to Sembalun Village. The most challenging part about taking this route is from POS III to POS Extra where you will have to climb “7hills” with 30-50 meters elevation in just one hill.
- 2D/1N option: This hike is the fastest possible way to go to the summit, but also the most physically demanding due to the height and distance needed to cover in just two days. First day 7 hours to crater rim, Second day 3 hours ascent to summit and 9 hours descent from summit to the entrance at Sembalun village. Total 19 hours in 2 days.
- 3D/2N option: If you are less physically fit or want to spend more time to enjoy the picturesque view of mount Rinjani from another angle, this route is more relaxing since it only takes – 3 hours descent to the hot springs to stay one night. And then 7 hours the next day. Overall, 20 – 21 hours in 3 days.
For us, we were glad to go all the way down to Sembulan village on the second day because we were so desperate to get a shower to wash all the volcanic ashes from our bodies and clothes. It took 3 days to completely clean every inch of our bodies as a matter of fact. We could not imagine if we had to spend another night in a tent with arching all over condition, we would prefer a proper bed.
Which tour company to choose?
Price and product: We inquired from 3 different companies:
- Green Rinjani – rated 4.5/5.0 on Tripadvisors: definitely the most expensive one (charging by USD currency) among all the tours we have asked – the price was 250 USD per person for Private Tour 2D1N summit and 190 USD per person for Group Tour (not more than 4) with porters and trekking guide.
- Hajar Trekking – rated 5.0/5.0 on Tripadvisors: cheaper than Green Rinjani offer price, charging at USD currency – the price was 195 USD per person for Private Tour 2D1N summit and 165 USD per person for Group Tour (not more than 4) with porters and trekking guide.
- Rinjani Horizon Trekking: – rated 4.5/5.0 on Tripadvisors, same price as Hajar trekking 2,500,00 IDR/person ~ 190 USD for private, 1,700,000IDR/person for group.
- Most of the package will include following service:
- Private 2 porters, 1 trekking guide .
- Foods and drinks including snacks, coffee, tea, soft drinks. –
- Transportation: If you book a guide in Senaru they will drive you Sembalun Village in the morning of your hike. If you book at an other location, like the Gili’s or Sengigi, you will be transported straight up to Sembalun Village to start from there.
Place: All companies are located at Senaru Village, you can book via tour booth at Gili Trawangan or Lombok, but it would be more expensive.
All in all, it boils down to how much time you have, how much money you want to spend and how physically demanding/relaxing you want it to be. In any case, you are going to have an amazing experience!
Hiking clothes and mountain gears, what to pack?
This is, in my opinion, the most important thing to prepare before you go hiking Mt. Rinjani. One good thing about booking with a tour company is having the guide and porter fix everything (food, water, tent, sleeping pads, sleeping bag), so you will only need to bring your own clothes in a small backpack to the summit.
There are 3 different weather conditions upon hiking up Mt. Rinjani:
- In the morning you will start hiking from Sembalun Village and at this point you are only at 1 156 meters above sea level, and it will be hot and sunny (at least in the dry season when the hike gets busier with many trekkers). Hence, short pants and a dry-fit short-sleeves shirt will be the optimal. Also, sunscreen,cap, sunglasses are very important because you will walk through a huge a savanna grassland! One thing I notice is that many Asian do not like to get the sunlight directly on their skin so they choose long sleeves shirt with mask and all; But if you put on to much clothes hiking uphill you will dehydrate fast, which will results in headache, decreased physical performance, confusion, and extreme thirst. Even though it is usually hot and sunny when you begin the hike, the steam from the ocean that gathers around the mountain can fall down as rain when it cools down as it hit the mountain sides. Because of this it can be handy to have a rain jacket in your backpack with a hood to put on.
- Crater rim weather condition: Once you get here it you will be sweaty and as the sun goes down the altitude will make it much colder than in the lower areas. For this you will need some dry, long-sleeved underwear to put on, preferably you should have this for both your upper and lower body. As the the nighttime begins, it will become quite cold on the crater rim (below 7 degrees), and to be able to get some sleep it can be good to have a hat and gloves too in addition to the sleeping bag you get from your guide and porter.
- When you start the hike to the summit in the at approx. 2am, it will be very cold and you will feel the urge to start hiking with a lot of clothes on. This is fine, as long as you regulate the temperature along the way by taking of clothes, pulling up your sleeves, opening zippers and so forth. The climb to the summit is very steep and you will most likely be very hot on the way up. Again, if you don’t regulate your body temperature accordingly you will get dehydrated, our freeze, and your physical performance will decrease. This sound easy, but I have seen tons of people not doing this, and by that making it more difficult for themselves. Now, once at the summit, you will be sweaty and as soon as you start to cool down from the hike you will start to freeze. This is why you must(!) bring gloves, a warm hat, a warm jacket to the summit. Sitting at the summit waiting for the sunrise is a traumatic experience if you don’t bring warm clothes. You will freeze like crazy! And the rule is that you better bring to much, than to little. It might feel like a waste to carry so much warm clothes to Indonesia, and up to the crater rim, but you will be thankful when sitting at the summit waiting, and the experience becomes so much better and enjoyable.
Last but not least, you need to think about which shoes to wear. Personally, I used my running shoes. This works fine, but these shoes offer less support for your ankles and less stability making your feet vulnerable to blisters. My feet had huge blister when I came down from the mountain and it took weeks to get my feet back to normal. The best choice for this hike is using proper hiking shoes as Kelin did. More support, more grip, and more stability will lead to less blister, less probability of injuries, and more comfort. If you have hiking shoes that reached above the ankles – boots, this is better as low shoes will be filled with volcanic ash and dirt. There is no way of avoiding being covered in dirt after this hike! But the less, the better.
Fitness level and how to avoid fatigue:
I think that most people that are used to being active (working out 3-5 hours a week) or if you have done mountain hiking several times and keep relatively fit, Mt. Rinjani will be doable. However, if you never went for a run or mountain hike in your life and never get your heart rate above 70% of maximum, you should probably consider doing some workout and a test hike in other mountains before embarking on this trip. Its for your own safatey and wellbeing.
In addition, the one that is more challenging here is your willpower to get to the summit as the last 3 hours is physically demanding in harsh weather condition, steep, full of volcanic ashes “2 steps forwards, 1 step back” hiking route. Kelin amazed me with her strong will…even though never having climbed mountains like this, and become very exhausted at times, she kept on going and never gave up. With this kind of attitude and willpower you will be able to do anything, including this hike.
One of the main reasons for feeling fatigue beside muscles soreness is dehydration, to avoid becoming dehydrated you should take a sip or more of water every 5 min, even though you don’t feel thirsty. In fact, if you start to feel thirsty you have already become somewhat dehydrated and you should seek to never feel thirsty when walking. Also, you you can pay attention to your urine….which might be easier for boys than for girls. The urine should never become dark yellow, but be clear and closer to the look of water with a light yellow tone! This way you can tell that you are not dehydrated.
Hiking without a guide and porter?
Let me just start by saying that it is recommended to bring a guide and a porter when hiking mount Rinjani.
- The guide and porters provide a tent, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, food, water, and everything else you need! We even had a couple of chairs outside our tent to sit and eat and to watch the sunset.
- The guide can help you choose the safer path along the crater rim and keep you informed about where you are and how much time is estimated to get to the camp site and summit.
- It helps with the motivation to know what to expect, how steep the next hill is, or how much longer you need to walk.
- The porters make good food and the guide have water and snacks along the way. For a Norwegian or Vietnamese this feels kind of overly luxurious, as we both prefer carrying and taking care of our own things, and we felt a bit like divas when not even carrying our own water.
- This is one of few ways of being employed and making a decent income in the Lombok mountain area, and most of the guides and porters make good money on this job. This is just yet another reason to hire a them and support their business…of course you should hire from a professional company that treat their employees respectfully and fairly.
If you do however decide to hike on your own you must remember the following things, in addition to extra clothes, sunscreens, flashlights, walking stick:
- Route and timeline: It will take more time to walk as you are carrying all your own stuff. Remember to plan accordingly.
- Map/GPS: Make sure you are familiar with the route. There are many people walking up the mountain, so it should not be any problem knowing where to go. However, to be on the safe side it is good to have a map.
- Cooking equipment: You need to bring a gas stove or multi-fuel stove to cook. That is, if you want hot food. Alternatively you only bring cold food. Also remember to bring a bowl/plate and something to eat with.
- Toiletries: Bring toilet paper! and toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Tent, sleeping pad and sleeping bag.
- Food and water. Bring plenty of water 4-5 litres …also for cooking food.
As you can tell, hiking without a guide will make your backpack quite heavy and you will be in for a demanding hike up to the crater rim.
I hope this guide will help you to have a great planning, hiking to Mount Rinjani.
Until then, stay tune for our next post about Senggigi, Lombok in the 21 days journey to Indonesia.
Markus & Kelin