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Published: July 20th 2011
I decided to book a 3 day 3 night Mt Rinjani(Indonesia's 2nd highest volcano at 3726 metres) tour from Gili Islands because it seemed quite a reasonable price at $125 and they would drop me at Senggigi afterwards. The price included all transport, camping gear, porters, guide, food, and water, except for lunch and dinner on the first day at the guesthouse in Senaru.
I was told to be at the port at Gili Air at 7am, but we didn't leave on the boat to Bangsar until after 8am. It was a very short trip to the port and I was very surprised how tiny it was. From there I received a 1km horse and cart ride to the waiting car where I joined three others headed for Senaru, the starting point for our trek. After a nice hour and a half drive we reached our guesthouse where I found out I was sharing a room with Ben, a guy the same age as me from Holland. After settling in and having lunch Ben and I decided that we would do a short trek to a couple of waterfalls in the area. It was a very nice walk with
great views of farmland in the valley, and then lovely forest. The first waterfall was very picturesque, with a few smaller ones very close as well. We rested here about 20 minutes while we took a few photos and enjoyed the cool spray from the waterfall. After about 30 minutes and a wet river crossing or two we reached the second waterfall which turned out to be very impressive. It was very powerful, with the spray traveling at least 50 metres. I stripped down to my shorts and ventured into the rocky river under the falls. Standing a couple of metres from the main falls the force from the spray was unbelievable. I didn't go directly under the falls because it looked and felt a little dangerous, and I was told when you get very close it sucks you under. It was a sensational experience but I could only endure it for about 10 minutes before I felt very cold. From there we headed back to the guesthouse and had dinner before retiring early because we had to get up at 6am the next morning.
We ended up leaving about 8am the next morning riding in the back of
a truck with our porters and guide to the start of the trek (600 metres) a few kms up the road. Our group consisted of Ben, another couple from Holland, a couple from Switzerland, 4 porters, our guide, and myself. We all signed in and then started walking along a uphill forest path for a few hours before reaching our lunch spot about 11am. I found the morning trek not that bad but I was quite hot and sweaty and my tshirt was soaked. Lunch was noodles with egg and vegetables, and we had pineapple for desert, and coffee. It turned out all our meals on the trek were a mix of noodles, rice, chicken, egg, vegetables, pineapple, pancakes for breakfast, and coffee or tea. After a long lunch break we started walking uphill again for an hour before the forest ended and we were walking in long grass. The walking again wasn't too bad for the next 45 minutes, but for the last hour it was a pretty hard slog walking up a steep section with gravel underfoot. We finally arrived at the camping spot on the rim at 2640 metres just after 3pm and were rewarded with great
views of the lake and the volcano inside it. We had dinner while watching the sunset and then went to bed not long after.
It was a pretty hard nights sleep for me because it was very cold early in the night and early in the morning, my sleeping bag was a little small for me, and Ben and I were a little cramped in our 2 man tent, which meant I had about 3 hours sleep in total over a 9 hour period. We got up for sunrise and then after breakfast said goodbye to Ben who was returning to Senaru that day. About 8am we started the walk down the rim of the crater to the lake. I really enjoyed this more technical trek down where you had to be very careful in a few places because if you fell it could mean the end. After an hour and a half or so we arrived at the lake with great views of the small volcano Gunung Baru. We then walked around the edge of the lake for 30 minutes before we arrived at the hot springs. This place was fantastic, filled with Indonesian campers and locals
enjoying the many pools of differing temperatures. After an hour of enjoying a couple of the pools we walked back to the lake where our guide and porters were preparing our lunch. About 12.30pm we started walking along the side of a hill with a gentle gradient for about an hour through some lovely countryside before another hour and a half very steep and a little dangerous climb up to the second nights camp spot on the rim at 2700 metres. Although we arrived very early we were pretty stuffed and just rested that afternoon. It was hard to get a lot of sleep that night with Indonesian tourists talking to about 10pm and then very early (2am) the next morning. I think I did get about 4 hours though being a little warmer and having the tent to myself.
We were woken at 2.30am to have some coffee and get prepared for the trek to the summit. At 3am we started walking up quite steeply for the next 45 minutes before arriving on the rim for a little rest. We then had a quite easy uphill walk along the rim for just under an hour before having another
rest before tackling the last very difficult slog up to the summit. This is where I made the decision not to go up the last bit. I was worried that my feet and legs would be too sore to make it back to Sembalun Lawang later that day. I was probably only about 400 or 500 metres (probably 100-150 metres in altitude) from the summit and it was quite cold. My group headed on up while I sheltered behind a rock and watched the other groups go past on their way up. It was a very cold and lonely hour wait until the sun came up and I started to warm up a little. After about half an hour after sunrise I could see the trekkers descending. My group eventually came down, we took a couple of photos and then headed back down along the rim of the crater before descending to our camp. We had a rest and then some breakfast before heading back down the mountain along a very slippery and dusty section for about 2 hours. My toes were a bit sore at this stage with all the downhill hiking and I could feel some blisters forming.
The couple of girls in our group were feeling it as well but were doing very well considering they had reached the summit that morning. The path levelled out quite a bit and after about an hour more we had a rest and had some pineapple for lunch. The last hour was nice walking(except for my toes) on relatively flat terrain before we reached the town of Sembalun Lawang where we hopped into the back of a truck again for the hour ride back to Senaru.
The whole trek was very well organised with plenty of food, water, coffee and tea. I don't have any regrets about not making it to the summit because my feet were sore enough by the time I got back. I think I would have been in a lot more pain if I had got to the summit. The rest of my group did very well. We all piled into a minivan where we drove to Bangsar to drop off the Swiss couple before arriving at Senggigi where I will spend the next few days taking it easy.
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