Quick Trip to Lombok - Rinjani Crater Rim Trek


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March 5th 2014
Published: March 25th 2014
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One thing I really wanted to do on this trip to Lombok was to climb Mt Rinjani. I first saw Mt Rinjani in 2012 from the summit of Mt Agung in Bali, it was peeking out of the clouds and from then on it was on my list. Rinjani is the second highest volcanic peak in Indonesia at 3726m and has a 6 km x 8.5 km caldera. Segara Anak, the crater lake partially fills the caldera with a small volcano (Gunung Barujari) contained inside that again. Other interesting scientific facts can be read on the link below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Rinjani

So....having booked the flights without really doing any homework I found out that the Rinjani National Park is closed in March due to the wet season. Damn.... However, after reading through as many trip reports/reviews that I could I emailed a few companies to sound them out- I figured that maybe with the changing weather patterns, blah, blah, blah... March this year might be a dry one. A couple of the companies gave me a straight out no- the park is closed - come back after April 1, a couple of other companies offered a shorter trek to the crater rim from Senaru. On arrival in Lombok I re-emailed them. The first could only offer it as a private tour for AUD $350. EEEKKK. The second, Galangijo, were happy to accommodate me as part of a group for AUD $175. SOLD. A packing list was received via email

* Torch or Flashlight
* Toiletries
* Sun block/lotion, hat/cap, sun glasses
* Spray for muscle/balm
* Gloves
* Rain coat / poncho.
* Camera, Handicam (Manual or Digital)
* Extra rolls film for manual camera or fully charged extra battery for digital
* Small towel
* 2/3 pcs of T-Shirts
* Long trek pants/wind proof
* Windproof Jacket
* 2 pcs of shorts
* Trek stick/lekki (optional)

I'm thinking this is a bit OTT- pants, 2 shorts and 3 tshirts!, it's probably for the 2 night option and is noticeably lacking in underwear (maybe 2 pcs of shorts = no underwear?), anyway, I dutifully packed everything suggested plus a few more bits still coming in at under 5kg in my handy Kathmandu day pack.

Galangijo sent a driver at 0400 on Wednesday morning and off we went through the darkness to Senaru. The driver asked me if it would be OK to drive very fast- sure... A little voice then squeaked from the back seat- "not too fast!!"- this was the voice of Maggi- my new trek buddy from Hong Kong. She then immediately fell asleep as we sped through the darkened streets and villages of Lombok. Narrowly avoided a few dogs but in general very fast driving on pitch black Lombok streets seemed a lot smoother and safer than my last middle of the night drive up to the start point for the Mt Agung trek in Bali. We arrived in Senaru in under an hour and a half- VERY speedy- normally takes 2 hrs or so. Maggi was woken up and deposited in a dark building while I was taken to another dark building 3 minutes up the street to "pay up front"- very important- "you must pay up front"- OK... The Swipe card thing wasn't working though so they decided I could pay afterwards- very important- "you must pay afterwards" - OK... Sapri, the manager, brought me a breakfast box (egg/cheese sandwich) and a hot cup of tea and stuffed some chocolate bars, biscuits, 2 little cans of coke and 2 orange juices in my hand and said goodbye. Maggi reappeared on the back of a ute with the guide- Agus- and we were off....

We walked up to a type of main gate that was closed then took a shortcut? roundabout? way into the park to start the trek proper. It was 0608hrs, getting light and cool(ish)- perfect. We reached another gate after 20 minutes of fast walking partially on a path, partially on dirt track- this one had a large sign proclaiming that the park was closed 10/1 - 31/3/14. Ignoring that, off we went on a steady rise and number of steep muddy inclines. At this point Maggi asked how much further would it be!!!! We reached Pos I (915 m elevation) just before 7am. The uphill climb continued at a very steady, sweaty pace. Maggi asked how much further would it be. We were in shade all of this time walking through fairly dense forest but a very obvious track. We took a few breathers and each time Maggi asked how much further would it be. We had 10 mins break at Pos Extra- guess what Maggi asked? Set off again, still through mainly shaded forest. There was a lot of bird song but it was difficult to spot any birds through the thick vegetation. We encountered some black monkeys crashing through the forest canopy as well as the ubiquitous grey macaque. Lots of butterflies. Many of the trees had plaques identifying the type of tree. Maggi asked why they needed to put sign posts on trees.... then she asked how much further it would be.

The incline was pretty steep and slippery in parts with 'natural' tree root steps, the height of the step ups was very variable with some 30-40cm plus rises- I was really glad I had my trusty trekking pole, especially being a bit short- it really gives you a good push up. Hot and sweaty, as in dripping, at this stage. We reached Pos II (1500 m elevation) at 0840 and had some biscuits and water sitting on the platform of the hut. There were quite a few macaques hanging around and a fair bit of trash. Gus, who is still wearing a beanie and hoodie and not sweating even slightly encourages us on. Actually, mostly he encourages Maggi. We then climb, mostly steadily, for another hour and a half, arriving at Pos III (2000m elevation) at 1036. Maggi's "are we there yet"? count is now at about 25... We meet several other tourists at Pos III- there are 2 porters and a guide cooking in one area and 3 German guys sitting on deck chairs being given cokes and lunch. Sitting on the hut platform are 3 other guys- Russian (2 English speakers, 1 non), a girl from Czech Republic and another couple from Belgium with their guide/porter. Maggi and I are joining them for the rest of the trek. It transpires that they all stayed overnight in Senaru and set off ahead of us this morning. Not too much conversation happening- it's a bit weird actually. In Nepal any stop and meeting with other tourists was usually a fairly friendly affair. "No matter", I think to myself- I have Maggi!

We meet our porters who are busy cooking up some lunch almost under the platform- they are 3 young guys in thongs, smoking, pretty smiley... and they make a really delicious vege noodle soup, boiled eggs and then fresh pineapple plus coffee. I was very grateful to be eating lunch- hadn't realised I was so hungry. It was 1113. Actually I quite enjoyed the stop- the smoky fire, the pack of barking dogs, the dark gritty coffee, etc- it was awesome (really, it was). Set off fresh (sweat has dried) after lunch in dribs and drabs, immediately feel tired- this is something that I noticed in Nepal too, after lunch and a stop my legs would always feel suddenly tired- I think the blood is actually diverted to the gut digesting lunch, as opposed to oxygenating leg muscles. Anyway, i digress. We soon hit savannah and continued the uphill climb. It was a complete change of terrain- very open, different plants- shrubby and grassy- moraine like. We arrived at another shelter at 1255. I told Maggi we were there before she could ask.

At this point the clouds had started rolling in, the temperature dropped and the decision was made to put up the tents as rain was likely. The porters gave us a thin sleeping mat and sleeping bag and we were allocated tents- me and Maggi in 1, Barra (Czech girl) in 1 and all 3 big Russians in 1! We camped on a plateau above the platform/hut with incredible cloudy views over Lombok and toward Bali. It started bucketing down at 1330 so we spent the next 2 hours lying in the tents. Maggi's teeth were chattering- she hadn't read the trip description, let alone the packing guide. She didn't know that it was an overnighter (???) and so only had a singlet, thin pants and ... a towel. Now I understood the need for 2/3 pc of tshirt in the packing list- you lend one to your trek mate so she can keep warm. Must have fallen asleep for about half an hour, when I woke up it was still raining and super windy. Not too sure how the 3 Russians were faring given that we had some minor flooding in our tent (Maggi had her sleeping bag up against the tent wall). The Russians would have been warm though all huddled up together! When the rain eased everyone emerged and wandered round for a while. Still not much conversation going on with the Russians. Barra was very happy to talk though, she had been travelling for a while through Indonesia during the off season- her usual job is working on a cruise ship. Very interesting girl. Before dinner we all had a big discussion about climbing up to the rim before sunset and setting up camp but Agus and the porters thought it would be too slippery and muddy so we stayed put. I was happy with that- I figure they know the conditions, the Russians were not so happy.

Dinner was at 1700- really delicious! Nasi goreng with fried chicken, prawn crackers and lots of tea and biscuits. The cloud was coming and going, it was very atmospheric - took some great photos before sunset. Maggi was right back in the tent after dinner as she was still freezing. I was only a tiny bit cold (very well rugged up in my gortex jacket, over down vest, over long sleeve merino t, over short sleeve merino t- yep - added quite a few extras to the packing list) and really enjoyed sitting out on the hill looking at the view until it got dark. Went to bed at 1900- a long night ahead before our 0500 wakeup call. Maggi tells me that it's going to be a long night. Yep, I agree. I ask Maggi about herself, her travels, etc- she has been in Australia for nearly 2 years, mostly in Tasmania picking fruit/veges/berries and has loved it. She wants to go back. I hope she had more than a singlet and towel in Tassie- very cold spot in Australia! Anyway, we talked for a couple of hours I guess before Maggi tells me that it's going to be a long night, yep, I agreed.

It was a long night- it was cold ( I would estimate about 5 C, it did rain some more, there was a bit of lightning, I woke up every time I had to move but I really enjoyed it all the same! Woke up at 0500, got up and ready for climbing the last bit of the hill to get to the crater rim (2641m) for sunrise. Maggi had blisters and .... no socks. Waited while I found my spare pair for her then the race was on to get up to the rim for sunrise. Climbing upwards in torch light was a little challenging - it was hard to see any path and was pretty slippery- lots of little stones to contend with. The colours of the sky were beautiful as it was getting lighter. Made it up with minutes to spare (sunrise 0602)- slightly off course. Maggi and Agus somehow had gotten to the viewing platform ahead of the rest of us who were on the wrong part of the hill!! However, the view of the sun coming up over the summit of Mt Rinjani was absolutely breathtaking- actually the sun coming up was slightly left of the summit, being in the wrong spot!, but no big deal- it was very beautiful. Lots more photos were taken. As the sky lightened the crater lake became visible and the small volcano inside it emerged. I could have sat up there for hours. Next time!

Reluctantly headed back down to our campsite (definitely harder going down- way more slippery with huge crevices in the terrain- glad I had the stick!) for an awesome breakfast of banana pancakes, toast and tea- sooo good. Us girls packed up and started the trek back down with the porters. The Russians bolted as soon as we had finished breakfast, Agus in tow. It was a steady descent, hitting the forrest at about 0846. Managed to slip over twice despite my pole. Maggi had switched to thongs by this stage (after giving me back my extra socks and other assorted borrowed items of clothing) and slipped pretty much all the way down. Barra set a cracking pace and we got into a good rhythm, stopping for 20 minutes back at Pos II and about an hour at Pos Extra. We had a little sprinkling of rain while the porters cooked lunch for us - prawn crackers, mie goreng, eggs and pineapple. The 6 of us shared the 2 little cans of coke I still had. Very nice picnic! We passed about 8 other tourists heading up in all. The last half hour of the descent was hilarious as we all had very shaky legs and we were faced with these really steep slopes down. Interestingly we exited the park through plantations of coffee and cacao- hadn't noticed them on the way in as it was dark. We then got picked up and taken back into the town to get a van back to Sengiggi (making sure I paid first). Trip back to Sengiggi took about 2 hours- good vehicle, nice, safe driver. Bid farewell to my new friends and went (stiffly) to have a long, hot shower

Conclusion

LOVED it, highly recommended. I think my fitness level was good- I walk a lot at home. Next time I will plan my seasons better and do the full summit trek- ideally as a 3 or 4 night trip to leave from Sembalun and include the lake and the hotsprings, etc. exiting via Senaru. I would use Galangijo again but probably negotiate the rate.

Resources

Available routes/times -

http://www.mountrinjanitrekking.com/images/route_rinjani.jpg

Galangijo details-

http://www.galangijo.com/index.php

Recommendations for rim trek

Their packing list - my thoughts

* Torch or Flashlight - take a head torch so you have both hands available
* Toiletries - handgel, tissues, toothbrush/paste, Paracetemol, bandaids or fixomul just in case
* Sun block/lotion, hat/cap, sun glasses - all necessary
* Spray for muscle/balm - not necessary IMO
* Gloves - not necessary IMO (although probably would need for a summit trek)
* Rain coat / poncho - my gortex was great- water and windproof
* Camera - goes without saying
* Small towel - I just had a wicking trek flannel which was great to wipe away the sweat and wash my face, no opportunity to have a proper wash on this programme
* 2/3 pcs of T-Shirts- I would say 2 short sleeve and 1 long sleeve merino T
* Long trek pants/wind proof - I wore mine for the full 2 days- they are the zip off ones, mine weren't windproof
* Windproof Jacket - see above re Gortex
* 2 pcs of shorts - not necessary IMO
* Trek stick/lekki (optional) - hmmm I think essential- majorly reduces stress on the joints

I would add- a book (we had a fair bit of down time in the afternoon /evening), decent boots/runners (as non slip as possible), a pair of thongs or crocks, 2 pairs socks and 2 pairs underwear. I also had a down vest because I feel the cold. I took a pair of leggings to sleep in but just ended up sleeping in my trek pants. I took a beanie but didn't use that either- hood of jacket was enough.

Any questions? Happy to respond. If you are contemplating the rim trek- do it! Just train a bit before hand though- it's not hard but it's not easy either (It took about 5 days for me to be able to walk comfortably again!).


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29th June 2014

Rinjani Trek
Hi I just came back from the full 4d/3n summit trek loved it. Started a travel journal but failed in the 1st hour. Tips on how to do it efficiently please. I loved the way you penned down your experience. Very factual yet interesting.
16th September 2014

Non-stop Gill !
Thanks - I thoroughly enjoy reading about your travels. This sounds to be another little gem, and you had the chance to feel virtuous and helpful to Maggi !

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