Mount Rinjani is not an easy undertaking. You need to be fairly fit, and more importantly very determined if you want to reach the summit. And it is more than likely that you won’t get a whole lot of help from your guide; it’ll be more a case of you figuring it out yourself.
So hopefully this blog will be able to answer any questions you might have! And please let me know in comments if I’ve missed something out that you desperately need answers for.
You can read my account of the trip here for an idea of what you’re letting yourself in for!
Choosing your trek
There are a few options when it comes to hiking Rinjani. Most tour companies will offer all of them, so it’s worth asking if you’ve found a company you want to go with.
4 days 3 nights:
The longer and probably less common option for the hike. If you’ve got a bit more time and don’t want to kill yourself through physical exhaustion, this would probably be a good shout.
3 days 2 nights:
This is the option we took, and this includes hiking up to and along the crater rim, down to the crater lake and hot springs, and summiting the peak. You can do it starting from either Senaru or Sembalun, and your itinerary will vary depending on this factor. We started from Sembalun and did the peak in the early morning of the second day. I would guess that the other way around you would summit on the last day, which would be killer, but I don’t know for sure.
2 days 1 night (with summit):
A few people on our bus took this option. This is essentially the same as the three day version, except that you would just go back down the way you came on the second day, after the summit in the morning.
If you pick this option you will probably miss out on the lake and the hot springs. Is that what you want? Hmmm?
2 days 1 night (without summit):
A (relatively) easier option, as the peak itself is by far the hardest part of the trek. You still get some pretty great views from up on the crater, so this would be a good way to go if you just fancy a bit of hiking but aren’t masochistic enough to need to conquer the summit.
Before you go
Nothing is fixed price in Indonesia, as I’m sure you are well aware. There will likely be a discrepancy in what people have paid for exactly the same tour, so no boasting please.
We paid 1.5mil each for 3d/2n, in a group of 10. This included transport to and from Kuta Lombok (or on to other locations for some of the group), one night accommodation before the hike, and breakfast the morning of. The price was for guide, tents, porters and food for the whole trip.
We also tipped 300k each to be shared between the guide and the five porters – but to be honest we had no idea what was appropriate!
I would just say, don’t be stingy when it comes to tipping the porters, cos those guys work bloody hard (you will see if you go do the hike). And as far as I’m concerned, a $5AUD tip per porter seems reasonable (or even minimal) when you see them sweating it out all day, lugging these hugely heavy bamboo baskets around the trail, cooking you dinner and carrying all your water.
This is just a suggestion, based on what I took and what I wish I had or didn’t have…
- Two pairs bottoms (one long, one short)
- Two t-shirts
- Sarong (to use as scarf/towel/blanket)
- Hat and gloves if you have them / cap for the walk – it gets both sunny and cold!
- Fleece or jumper
- Windproof jacket for the summit
- A sturdy pair of trainers or walking boots… If your shoes aren’t good, rent some good ones
- Socks – 2-3 pairs depending on how much you mind wearing a dirty pair again. (Everything gets dirty.)
- Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, baby wipes for a “camp shower” There aren’t showers so I wouldn’t bother with shampoo etc.
- Headlight. Handheld torch is also OK but headlight makes it much easier for the summit, as you will probably need your hands for balance… trust me
- Swimwear for the lake/hot springs
- Snacks – energy bars, nuts, cookies etc. Not entirely necessary but still an enjoyable addition if you have room
The scenery is surprisingly diverse across the walk. As with any volcano hike, though, expect a lot of loose, sandy or gravelly ground, with little to no purchase for your feet. The summit is pretty much three hours of scrambling upwards in loose gravel, so that’s something to look forward to.
There are more pleasant sections though, with a dedicated path and sometimes even handrails (what a treat!). A few sections involve hauling yourself up rocky outcrops, but these are pretty manageable.
I won’t lie, this is not a particularly easy trek. It is almost constantly steep either upwards or downwards, and as mentioned the ground can be pretty difficult at times. Not everyone manages to get to the peak, which maybe gives you an idea of how hard that section is, given that altitude isn’t really a problem.
Don’t expect much actual guidance from your guide. Often their English won’t be great, and half of the time we were finding the path ourselves as the guide supported from the back.
Worked for us, but this was a bit of a change from other guided hikes I’ve done such as the Inca trail.
These guys are brilliant. They carry 40-50kgs up and down the mountain, presumably a couple of times a week, casually slung across one shoulder in bamboo baskets. It is impressive stuff. You don’t have to worry about carrying food, water (except what you need for a the day) or camping kit – these guys have got you covered.
It will come as no surprise, if you have spent a bit of time around Indonesia, that there is a bit of a rubbish problem up on the mountain.
The scenery around Mount Rinjani is beautiful, but unfortunately it’s not all very well kept. There is rubbish strewn along a lot of the path, and concentrated in the main camping areas. In certain places the monkeys will be a pain because they are used to claiming leftovers from people’s dinner, so be prepared to defend your food if necessary! Some people also told us that there are rats up at one of the campsites…
So just be prepared!
Temperature + conditions
It is very, very bloody windy at both of the campsites we were at. Both nights we camped on or near the crater rim, and the wind blew right across it, and straight through the tents. I’d definitely recommend bringing warmer clothes for the evenings and nights! And be prepared not to sleep very much – the wind makes a right racket and your tent will be blowing about a lot.
One of our group had the roof lifted off his tent by the wind, just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
The porters take care of all the food throughout the hike, but you can bring snacks if you feel like you will need energy boosts throughout the days.
(Or if you just like snacks.)
The food was pretty standard Indonesian fare – rice or noodles with veg, for the most part – and while it did get a bit repetitive after a while, we were definitely catered for well enough. Breakfast is probably, inevitably, banana pancakes.
You will be provided with a sleeping bag and camping mattress, so it’s not the most basic of arrangements. But it’s definitely a jumper-as-a-pillow type situation.
And a headlight or torch is definitely a useful addition for when you wake up needing a wee in the night.
An important issue, but usually under-discussed, the toilet situation during the Rinjani trek is what you might call “rugged”. There aren’t any (or at least many) proper housed toilets along the trail, so you better get used to doing your business al fresco. Plus, the one toilet we found on day one was way more disgusting than doing a nature wee.
Expect there to be toilet paper everywhere. At the camp spots, the porters will put up a toilet tent for you (yes, really) which is basically a hole in the ground sheltered by a (not very tall) canvas cubicle. And then along the trail, just be careful where you go because it will soon become apparent where the popular toilet spots are…
Hey, I never said it was luxury.
And on that happy note, that’s all the advice I can think of! Hopefully this has been helpful – and as I say, just comment below if I’ve left any of your burning questions unanswered.
And again, if you want an idea of what you’re about to do, you can read my account of the hike here.