Mount Rinjani Trekking – Lombok’s No. #1 Challenge!
The mighty Mount Rinjani (or Gunung Rinjani) lies at the Northern end of the island of Lombok in Indonesia. The peak (at 3,723 meters or 12,215 feet tall) is Lombok’s highest point and is actually an active volcano which last erupted as recently as 2010! Trekking to the crater rim or the summit of the volcano has become a bucket-list adventure for intrepid travellers who forsake the lazy beaches of nearby Bali for a real epic challenge!
How to Prepare for a Mount Rinjani Trek
If you’re thinking of conquering the mountain, it’s important to do your research beforehand. Like with all mountaineering expeditions, proper preparation can mean the difference between a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and an uncomfortable (at best) and/or dangerous (at worst) experience! But don’t fear! In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about trekking Rinjani Mountain; from how to choose a trekking guide (recommended), to what time of year to hike, what to bring, how to prepare, how much a Rinjani trekking package should cost and important mistakes to avoid! Whether you’re hiking solo, or with travel buddies, this guide will prepare you for the trekking experience of a lifetime. And, once you’re armed with all the important Mount Rinjani trekking information you could ever need – please share with other would-be hikers to make sure they are as prepared as you are!
Climbing to the Summit of Mount Rinjani – Currently Closed
Before we delve into the ins and outs of planning a hike up Mount Rinjani, here’s an important announcement. Since the series of earthquake that rippled across the surface of Lombok in July and August of 2018, the hiking trails to the summit of Mount Rinjani have been closed to trekkers. The closure (which started in September 2018) is a result of damage to the paths which made trekking to the peak dangerous. Authorities told trekkers that they needed at least a year to repair the trails. So at this time is it still possible to hike part of the volcano? Yes! You can still hike to the crater rim of Mount Rinjani and cast your eyes on the incredible Segara Anak Lake. While it’s not a conquering as such, this trail is still a challenge for hikers and offers amazing views of Rinjani National Park. (Read more below.)
LATEST – Summit Trail Reopened August 2020.
If you’re an unashamed ‘peak bagger’ and are looking for another notch on the trekking pole, there’s good news! The trail to the summit was meant to reopen in April 2020, however, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Jakarta Post, four hiking trails reopened August 22nd 2020 with additional safety measures.
Climbing to the Crater Rim and Segara Anak Lake – Open!
The trekking trail from the village of Senaru up to the crater rim of Mount Rinjani is still open to hikers. This route offers an incredible bio-diversity of forested and grassland trails before leading up to the crater rim of Rinjani where you will find the glorious blue lake of Segara Anak! Segara Anak lies the top of the volcano (at 2,000 metres above sea level) and is an enormous 6-kilometre by 8.5-kilometre crater which is filled by impossibly-blue waters. (The name ‘Segara Anak’ translates from Bahasa as ‘Child of the Sea’.) The trail that leads up to Segara Anak takes two days to hike and offers amazing views, challenging ascents and a massive sense of achievement, despite the summit being unreachable at this time.
What Time of Year Can You Trek Mount Rinjani?
The monsoon season hits the island of Lombok hard between the months of January and March, therefore trekking Mount Rinjani is out of bounds during these months as the entire Mount Rinjani National Park is closed. Other activities in Lombok, such as the famous Lombok to Flores Boat Trip, are also unavailable during this time as strong winds and rains pummel the island. Therefore, the best time to hike Mount Rinjani is any other month between April to December.
How to Choose a Rinjani Trekking Guide
There are absolutely loads of companies (and random individuals) in Lombok offering guided treks up Mount Rinjani. However, it should be understood, that the companies vary greatly in terms of the quality of service that they offer, their experience in this type of mountaineering, and most importantly the level of safety that they are able to offer their customers. When choosing a Rinjani Trekking Organizer, it is important to do your research and check TripAdvisor reviews etc. And remember – you can always ask fellow traveller’s for their advice in our Facebook Group. We have heard several scary reports of travellers taking hikes up the mountain with trekking companies who do not have proper equipment or have not properly warned their customers about the type of clothing that is necessary! With such an abundance of offerings it can be difficult to know which one to choose and to separate the good from the bad and the dangerous! Like many tours in Indonesia, the motto is – the cheapest isn’t always the best. If you’ve found a Rinjani Trekking Tour that’s half the price of any other tour that’s advertised on the internet, you have to ask yourself – why is it so cheap?
Our Recommended Mount Rinjani Trekking Company
If you’re looking for a great trekking company that consistently receives excellent reviews, check out Hallo Trekker – South East Asia Backpacker’s recommended trekking company for Mount Rinjani. Run by local Lombok hiking guide, Rustam Efendi, the company has been safely guiding hikers up the mountain for over 10 years. Their guides speak English very well, are trained in First Aid and have many years’ experience with the mountain’s unpredictable trails and weather patterns. As well as their professionalism, unlike many other companies, Hallo Trekker take great care for the environment during their hikes and encourage the protection of Rinjani National Park. A quick glance at their TripAdvisor reviews and you will see the words ‘best Rinjani trekking company ever!’ many times over. While the trek offered isn’t the cheapest around, you can have peace of mind that your safety and wellbeing will be taken care of during the trek. You can book their Mount Rinjani Trek on this website or contact us with any questions that you may have via that page.
How Much Does a Mount Rinjani Trekking Package Cost?
As mentioned above, the price of hiking Mount Rinjani can vary, from between $150 US for a budget experience, to $300 US for a more luxury trekking package. The price also depends on your starting point and the number of days that you take to tackle the mountain. For example, the 3-day, 2-night hike to the crater rim of Mount Rinjani (that is currently the only hike available) costs $230 US with Hallo Trekker, which includes one night in a hotel in Senaru before the hike and one night camping at the crater rim, as well as all food, camping equipment and a professional, experienced trekking guide and porters.
How Fit Should You Be to Hike Rinjani?
The trek to the summit of Mount Rinjani, as well as the shorter trek to the crater rim, is only for those in good physical shape and should not be taken lightly. While tickets are sold to just about any beach bum in Bali and the Gili Islands, you should be careful to fully evaluate if you are physically (and emotionally) ready for this adventure before committing!
What to Expect From Trekking Mt Rinjani
Still deciding if the trek to Mount Rinjani is for you? Here are three things to consider before booking:
- 1. It’s physically tough! It’s the type of trek where for every two steps you take, you slide down the hill one. Also, there are no hot showers and you will sleep in a tent – so ladies, bring your dry shampoo and moist towelettes. This is not a trek for the flashpackers!
- 2. You will be camping! Be prepared to camp on the side of a volcano. Warm clothes (see below for more advice on what to pack!) are a must.
- 3. You will need time to recover afterwards. Your aching body will need a few days to recover after the trek so plan your time afterwards accordingly and allow for some relaxation time on the beautiful beaches of Lombok.
All that being said, hiking Mount Rinjani is an INCREDIBLE experience and something you will remember for the rest of your life.
What to Bring on a Mount Rinjani Trek?
With hiking Mount Rinjani, more than with any other experience in Lombok, you must make sure that you are equipped with the right gear. Despite the tropical temperatures of this part of Indonesia, Mount Rinjani is a high altitude volcano and you will need the right clothing and equipment for your own safety and enjoyment of the trek. If your hiking company is reputable, they will check that you are fully prepared in terms of gear before you set off. Either way, we recommend that you bring the following… Note: Most Mount Rinjani trekking agencies will allow you to leave your larger rucksack/suitcase in the trekking office and take only a small bag with you on the hike. You do not need to take camping gear, the porters will be responsible for carrying all the camping equipment to your camping spot.
- A small flashlight or better still, a head torch (with spare batteries) so that you can walk with both of your hands free in the dim light of the early hours of the morning. A phone light will not be satisfactory (trust me, I forgot to bring a decent source of light and it was a huge mistake!).
- Trekking shoes. You will need a good sturdy pair of trekking shoes/boots for this hike. Sandals just won’t cut it – despite the fact that your porters will bound past you wearing only flip flops!
- Flip flops or sandals. You can take these for wearing around the campsite at night time – with socks!
- Light, stretchy clothing that’s comfortable for walking. Don’t pack too much into that small rucksack, though we do recommend that you take a few changes of clothes in the case that they get wet (through sweat and/or rain!). We suggest: 2-4 cotton t-shirts, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 long/wind-proof trekking pants, 1 wind-proof jacket, 1 rain jacket.
- Warm clothes! (Jumpers, a warm jacket, trousers, socks) Layers are the key. It’s freezing up there (3,723 meters)! If you don’t have a warm jacket, like so many backpackers travelling around Southeast Asia, you can rent one for about 50,000 Indonesian Rupiahs – and you should!
- Thermal underwear. Always a good idea to have handy. Just in case you are in for a really cold night!
- Gloves, hat, scarf are also essentials.
- Sun cap. As well as a warm hat, a sun cap (sun hat or bandana) is a good idea. This will keep you cool when and the sun off the top of your head when you are walking in exposed areas in the heat of the day.
- Trekking poles. If you like walking with trekking poles then bring them with you. You can also rent them from many of the trekking agencies in Lombok.
- Toiletries and personal medications. You should take a mini version of your face wash, shower gel, toothpaste. Shampooing your hair can wait until you get down off the mountain!
- Travel towel. A small towel for drying off, or better still a microfibre travel towel is essential.
- Insect repellent. When trekking, at times through the jungle, you will need a strong mosquito/insect repellant.
- Moist towelettes. You will get volcanic ash all over you and there is nowhere to wash your hands properly or clean off. Moist wipes/towelettes are a lifesaver.
- Muscle spray/balm. For those achy bits!
- Sunscreen/block. Just because its cold doesn’t mean you won’t get burned / sun damage. The air is thinner at the top of Mount Rinjani and so it is more easy to get burnt up there.
- Sunglasses. The bright sun, thin air and early mornings mean that a decent pair of protective sunglasses are a must.
- Swimsuit. If you want to have a swim in Segara Anak Lake and enjoy the hot springs – bring your swimsuit!
- Go pro or a decent camera if you have one. You will want the memories and it’s worth hauling around.
- Binoculars. The views up here are amazing! Take some binoculars for spying on your buddies lying on the beaches of Bali!
- Extra snacks. If you are someone who is likely to get peckish on the trail and may need snacks for extra energy bring a few chocolate or muesli bars with you just incase!
- A water bottle, or better still a filtered water bottle. Avoid littering the environment of Lombok with plastic bottles, and make sure that you always have a clean supply of water, by investing in a filtered water bottle for your hike. It will also come in handy for your travels anywhere in the world!
- A positive attitude! You will want to quit at least once on the trip. Just remember, if nothing else, you will get an awesome picture at the top.
Rinjani Trekking Map
See the below map for an idea of the topography and the main trekking route up Mount Rinjani.
The Trekking Trails up Mount Rinjani – Which is Best?
There are over 20 villages that surround the enormous base of Mount Rinjani and therefore, there are many routes up the mountain, some only the locals know! (For example, you can climb from the villages of Senaru, Sembalun, Torean and Saja). However, no matter which Mount Rinjani Trekking Agency you choose to hike with, the most likely route you will do is from the village of Senaru, up to the crater rim (Pelawangan) and then down to the city of Sembalun Lawang – or that exact route vice versa. Depending on how many days you decide to trek (3 days or 5 days), you may or may not decide to descend to Segara Anak Lake for a swim and a dip in the hot springs… Below is outlined the most popular 5 day, 4 night Mount Rinjani Trekking Route. In its totality, this is considered, hands down, one of the best hikes in Southeast Asia!
The Most Popular Mount Rinjani Trekking Route – 5 Days, 4 Nights
Day 1 and Night 1 – Starting in Senaru Village
Many climbers start their hike in the pretty village of Senaru, which already lies at a height of 600 metres. The first day of the trek is simply arriving in Senaru, registering with Rinjani National Park and getting all of your trekking permits ready for the hike. (Your trekking company should organise all of this for you.) If you have time, you should definitely plan an afternoon excursion to the beautiful Singang Gile and Tiu Kelap Waterfalls which are just a short walk from Senaru Village at the foot of Mount Rinjani. Many trekking companies schedule this excursion into the 5-day itinerary. After an easy going day, on the first night, you will spend the night in a hotel in Senaru – make the most of the comfortable bed as the next few nights’ you will be camping in the wild!
Day 2 – Trekking from Senaru Village
No matter which trekking company that you choose to hike with, the schedule for the day will be pretty much the same. On the first day, the climb is fairly easy for most of the way (apart from the last two hours, which we will talk about later!). From Senaru, the path is well shaded and well-trodden from people hiking the route on a daily basis (when it’s not rainy season). The trail is mostly clear of debris and overgrowth which makes treading quite easy. After hiking for a few hours, just as you hit the clouds, about 1500 meters up, you will stop for lunch (along with several other groups). The higher that you hike, the more you will feel the temperature begin to drop. (At the time of year when we hiked, it was about 20 degrees at the first lunch stop – a perfect temperature for hiking!)
After lunch, the climb steadily becomes steeper. Breaks become more frequent as each member of the group, depending on fitness level, starts to feel the burn! At about 200 metres in height, the trees will begin to thin out and you will find yourself hiking in the open expanse of the mountainside. Thick undergrowth is replaced with tall grass and jagged rocks. It’s at this point that you will need to grab your cap out of your bag to keep the sun off your head as you watch clouds wisp over the mountain sides and fade into the warm air around you. What look like rivers can be seen from a distance, until you get closer and realise that they are actually cooled lava flows. The landscape is extremely cool and you will want to take photographs frequently! During the second part of the day (everything after lunch), the path is much steeper and in many parts, the trail deteriorates into dirt and loose rocks. Sturdy footwear is essential to tackle this particular part of the hike. The close you get to the crater rim, the thinner the air will become, making every step feel like you are lifting a giant lead weight with your feet. However, as soon as you reach the rim, the views will quickly wash away any pain you may have been feeling!
Night 2 – Camping at Senaru Crater Rim and Views of Segara Anak
Once you reach the crater rim, at some point in the afternoon, views of the amazing azure waters of Segara Anak and the surrounding volcanic landscapes will blow your mind! At the Western end of the lake sits the remainder of Mount Rinjani after a huge explosion in 1994. Sulphur fumes can be seen escaping through some crevices in the side of the volcano. Above the volcano you can see the peak and the narrow path that leads to it (currently off limits), an ominous scene for those planning on the peak ascent (about half of the groups). The crater rim is the place that most groups doing the 3-day, 2-night trek set up camp for the night. Your trekking guide and the weather that day will determine exactly where you pitch your tents, be it in a crevice of a small valley in the rim, or closer to the peak of the rim itself. If there are strong winds, the tents will huddle in the more sheltered parts of the valley for safety.
From here, you can put on your warm clothes, get comfortable and prepare to watch the sun sink into the clouds. On a clear day, it is possible to see Gunung Agung, the volcano on the island of Bali, poking through the flat ocean-like appearance of the clouds in the distance. Once the sun is gone, the temperature drops by about 10 degrees and it gets really cold, really fast! This is the time when some people realise that they are not properly equipped for the cold of the night, having not been advised to bring enough warm clothing by their trekking company. (On the trek we did, there was an America guy who was extremely angry at his tour company for not having provided him with accurate information before attempting the trek!) If you’ve done your research properly and you’re all cosy and warm in your jacket, trousers and thermal underwear, then you’re in for a treat. The skies that can be seen from the crater rim of Mount Rinjani are absolutely breathtaking! Planets, galaxies, constellations, satellites, and shooting stars are in abundance.
Day 3 – A swim in Segara Anak Lake Anyone?
Some of the trekking tours include swimming in Segara Anak Lake, which is highly recommended, and surprisingly, totally safe! To reach the lake, you will need to head down the inside of the crater wall towards the lake, a task that seems nearly impossible given the 80-degree slope of the crater wall! Your trekking guide will help you to pick your route wisely. The steep path down to the lake (or at least when we did it) starts of with rickety railings which guide you down the rocky cliff. As you hike down, the safest option is to reach for holds in the rocks and roots sticking out instead of relying on the wobbly pole. The other challenge is to focus on the trail ahead rather than staring at the beautiful lake below!
A couple of hours of steep down hill trekking and you will reach the edge of the lake, along with the strong sulphur smell of the blue waters. Despite the smell, the water is safe for swimming and is full of carp and other small fish, which you will see some locals attempting to fish. If you ask them, they might let you try to catch a fish yourself. The water is, of course, quite chilly, but extremely refreshing for swimming and a novel experience to say the least! How many of your friends can say that they have swum in a crater lake of one of an active volcano? Cool points indeed.
Day 3 – Mount Rinjani Hot Springs
Not far from the lake, there are also some hot springs which can be found if you follow the lake’s drainage river down to a waterfall, across the slippery rocks above the fall, and down a grassy slope. (Ask your tour guide for more accurate directions if you are unsure!) The temperate of the hot springs is around 40 degrees Celsius in some spots, maybe more in others! After all that hiking, your aching muscles will appreciate every moment that you soak in the hot, healing waters. Plus, being right next to the waterfall, this is the perfect spot to jump in and soak up the shock of the cold water before returning to the healing hot spring. A natural spa in the heart of Mount Rinjani National Park!
Night 2 – Getting Back Up to the Crater Rim (Sembalun)
The only downside to swimming in the lake and visiting the hot springs is that you have to climb back up to the rim to get back where you started! (Especially if you are attempting the summit climb the next day.) From the lake, the trail starts out easily enough; a level walk along the side of a grassy field. However, this only lasts an hour before you hit the real challenge; a steep climb up open rock faces and loose rocky paths.
Rickety bridges over deep ravines will help you along, but many of the railings that once lined the trail have by now rusted and fallen off. (The authorities are believed to be in the process of fixing this and improving the trail as we speak so it may be greatly improved by the time you do the trek.) The entire hike back up to the crater rim takes around 2.5 hours in total, depending on the fitness level of your group.
Day 3 – Summiting Mount Rinjani – Currently Closed
If you plan on summiting Mount Rinjani at some point in the future, you will need to wait to get the all clear from your trekking company that the trails are open and safe to climb. (The trail to the peak is believed to be reopening in November 2019.) At the moment, many groups reach only the crater and then descend back to the village of Senaru via the same route. When the option of summiting Rinjani is available, the hike begins at the unthinkable hour of 2.30am when the night is at its pitch blackest! From the camp site, the city lights of Sembalun can be seen off in the distance – the proposed end point for many of the Mount Rinjani trekking tours.
Rising at 2.30am, you will need to don every piece of warm clothing that you have, as well as secure your head lamp firmly to your head to prepare for trekking in the dark. Make the most of the breakfast that is offered by your trekking company – you are going to need it for this demanding final ascent! The path to the summit is challenging, mainly because it is made up of eroded volcanic rock, making for very slow and slippery progress. For every two steps forward, you will take one step back and many people become frustrated through sheer exhaustion. The winds can also get quite fierce up here as the ridge is rather exposed and a good wind-proof jacket is essential to protect you from the cold. At times, it’s a good idea to drop behind the huge rocks that litter the trail to escape the wind, drink some water and refuel on fake Oreo cookies!
Day 4 – The Final Ascent – Worth all the pain!
Are you ready for the big reward? If your trekking guide has timed it right, as you complete the final 100 metres to the summit, the light of the sun will just be beginning to make itself known on the horizon… Meaning that by the time you reach the top you will be in for a glorious sunrise at around 6.30am. As the sun pokes its head out from behind the distant horizon, it will make all of the pain and suffering of the past two days worth it (we promise!). As some of the Muslim trekking guides and porters take this opportunity to pray to Allah, most of the travellers take as many photos as they can as the sky changes colour and daylight drowns the landscape of Lombok. One thing is for sure; you will never forget the sunrise from the top of Mount Rinjani as long as you live. Truly an amazing sight to behold!
Day 5 – The Descent
Unlike the ascent, getting down from the peak is fast! What is a 3-hour hike to the top becomes a 1-hour hike to the base camp at the crater rim. The deep volcanic sand is perfect for softening the impact on the knees and you are actually able able to run most of the way down! As you race down the mountain, you may feel a pang of guilt as you whirl past all of the hikers still climbing upwards, but you have earned the fun part! Their time will come. Now it is light, you can really see how narrow the trail is and how the dark of the early morning hides steep cliffs which drop away on either side of the mountain. This is one of those moments when you realise how important a good trekking guide is to prevent you from getting into any trouble on the way up! After a quick breakfast at the rim, you will start your descent to either Senaru or Sembalun (depending on which location you started). Either way, the hike is relatively easy (though it can get messy if it is raining whereupon the trail becomes very muddy and slippery). Along the way, as the path becomes less steep, you will walk through vast rice fields where children play and men and women tend to their crops. It feels nice to be arriving back into civilisation… Once you reach the town, with swollen knees, feet covered in blisters, and clothes covered in dirt and sweat – will you say that it has all been worth it? We don’t know. However, we’re pretty sure that the Bintang Beer you drink that night will taste better that any beer you have ever tasted in your life, the shower will be the most amazing shower that you have ever had the pleasure of, and you will sleep better than you have ever slept in your life!
Where to Relax after Trekking?
Haven’t been to the beaches of Bali or the Gili Islands yet? Head over there for some much needed R & R after your trek! Been to Gili and Bali already and seeking new beach scenes? Try Kuta Lombok, a small beachside town with a big Rasta vibe in the South of Lombok. You can read more about where to stay in Lombok and more things to do on the island in our Lombok Guide. And when you’re rejuvenated and ready for a new adventure, why not book a boat cruise from Lombok to Flores to see the infamous Komodo Dragons?
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