Conquering Gunung Rinjani in Lombok, Indonesia

Reliable Outfitters Make All the Difference in Climbing

Gunung Rinjani crater during sunrise
••• Gunung Rinjani crater during sunrise. Abdul Azis/Getty Images

Gunung Rinjani rises 12,224 feet above the island of Lombok and regularly reminds those that are adventurous enough to trek in the Mount Rinjani National Park of just how active it still is.

Luckily, a new cone has formed inside the caldera lake which covers around 20 square miles; the lake catches hot lava in a spectacular display of steam, preventing the lava from threatening nearby villages.

Mount Rinjani is the second highest volcano in Indonesia, comparable in height to Japan's Mount Fuji.

For those with the physical stamina, energy, and spirit to trek up Gunung Rinjani, the reward is amazing.

Trekking Gunung Rinjani

Trekking Mount Rinjani is not for everyone. Reaching the crater rim requires a high level of physical endurance and exposure to cold temperatures. Continuing on the additional 3,000 feet up to the summit requires even more effort, and may not even be an option depending on your guide. Some trekkers have died while attempting the summit on their own.

Most travelers choose to trek to the crater rim which provides the best views of the active cone. The cone, nicknamed "New Mountain", appears as a miniature volcano surrounded by lake. A trek to the rim typically requires two days and one night of camping, however longer tours are available.

Hiring A Guide

Hiring the right guide will make or break your Rinjani experience.

While it is possible to trek Gunung Rinjani without a guide assuming that you have the proper equipment, it is technically illegal and significantly more dangerous.

Guides are numerous in the tourist town of Senggigi on Lombok, however many are not reputable. If in question, it is possible to check out potential guides with the tourist police for complaints.

Alternatively, wait until you reach the trekking center at Senaru - the village base on the north side of the volcano - before hiring a guide.

The following outfitters have sterling reputations among Rinjani trekkers:

Costs

Eliminating the middle-man and going straight to Senaru to make trekking arrangements will save you money. The Rinjani Trek Centre in Senaru is legitimate and provides guides, equipment, and porters for your adventure.

Prices vary widely between guides and trekking centers. Expect to pay around US $175 for a basic trek to the rim with equipment and food. When hiring a guide, ask if the price includes the national park entrance fee.

Entrance into the Rinjani National Park costs around IDR 250,000 (around US$18.75) a permit.

Read about money in Indonesia.

Equipment to Bring

Your outfitter will provide most of what you need for the trek up Gunung Rinjani, but it is your responsibility to bring the following:

  • Reliable flashlight and a backup light source.

  • Cold weather clothing in layers. Temperatures at the top of Rinjani can dip close to freezing.

  • Solid hiking boots. Sandals will not be adequate for the trek.

  • Rain gear.

  • Snacks to replace the calories burned while on the trail.

  • Several bottles of water - you will need more than your guide can carry.

What to Expect

The first day of your trek will probably have you walking the steep path to either the base camp at Pos III or all the way to the crater rim. Hiking the distance to the crater rim on the first day allows for a spectacular sunrise the next day.

On the second day, the trek will continue along a slightly-dangerous path down into the rim to the hot springs.

Some groups camp a second night at the hot springs before trekking back to Senaru the next day.

Getting There

Gunung Rinjani is located on the island of Lombok, easily accessible by boat from Bali or the Gili Islands.

Most people start by picking up some basic supplies and information in the tourist town of Senggigi, then proceed to one of the base villages such as Senaru or Batu Koq by bemo.

When to Go

The only suitable time to trek up Gunung Rinjani are during the dry months between May and October. Peak season is from June to August. Mud, clouded views, and dangerous footing make attempting the trek during the rainy season hardly worth the effort.

Going to the Summit

For serious trekkers with the summit in mind, begin your trek on the Sambulan Lawang Ascent Route, rather than the easier, usual path to the crater rim. Reaching the summit requires a minimum of two nights - preferably three - on the volcano.

The last 3,000 feet to the summit is up very steep terrain plagued by loose shale and footing.

Around Senaru

Before setting off on your trek, check out the Air Terjun Sendang Gila waterfalls. The impressive waterfalls are well worth the pleasant, 30-minute walk and can be done without a tour.