Rinjani has always been on my bucket list. For some reasons I kept postponing the trip – probably out of fear. People have been talking about its wild and merciless conditions. Nervous as we were, the five of us set out to the small village of Senaru, where we began our 4 days trek through the volcano complex.
We were greeted by our guide and porters at the guesthouse. On the first day, we would hike up to the crater rim and camp there. The first part of the trail was relatively flat with very few trees.
Not far from the start, a few guys with motorcycles tried to ask if we wanted a ride. I had seen locals offering rides on horses and mules but this was definitely another level of creativity. We stopped for lunch along the way.
Clouds started to roll in as we began our walk in the afternoon. I worried a bit about the rain because I couldn’t really see the top of the hill. The path started to wind uphill, steeper as we went on. We climbed through the forest and I realized we were now in the mist we saw earlier.
Finally we arrived at the crest of what I guess was the crater rim. The fog was so thick I could barely see. The porters were waiting and quickly escorted us to our tents. My clothes were damp and dusty, but with a cup of hot tea in hand, I couldn’t care less.
We had dinner which consisted of rice and a hot soup in the tents. Our guide gave us a brief for the next day. Tomorrow was going to be the summit day and we would have to start the trek at 3 am (!) to reach the top on time for the sunrise.
On the next morning we woke up before dawn, delighted to see the clear starry sky. I felt the strong wind against my jacket but tried to focus on my steps. It was tough and discouraging because you kinda fall back a bit every step you take.
Near dawn, we saw the outline of the crest and low clouds hanging not far below. I considered taking my camera out of the backpack for a shot but was too lazy. The merciless wind blew black sand all over us, plenty of that landed inside my pockets.
Just after I decided not to take the photo, fog was blown in and a few minutes later everything was covered. Later it grew stronger and it started to rain. A crowd of hikers started to turn back. Our guide instructed so as well.
On the way back, everything became white as the sun came up. That was the first time I saw the path. At the end of the final slope, we descended down a super sandy slope. It was pretty fun actually. I imagined skiing was quite the same (?)
Down there there was no storm. We arrived at our camp filled with sunlight and even some views of the crater. We had a hearty breakfast of typical chicken rice and some fried bananas. After a cold and tiring morning, a simple hot meal was what we longed for.
Later we headed down to our next camp. Now, my personal recommendation is to take a 4 day tour instead of the more popular 3 day one. This way you can properly enjoy the mountain without rush.
We walked down until we got to the shore of the crater lake. I have never been inside a volcano crater before. This was my favorite day. The walk was easy so we arrived early and had lunch by the lake. And that was it for today! We camped right there.
Excluding the summitting part, this was a very easy and relaxing day. We took some time to slowly explore the shore and read books. With a 3 day tour, you will just have a lunch stop and then continue walking uphill to the next camp closer to the exit.
The next morning, we were told about a hot spring close by. It was a good moment to have a dip after not having showered for 2 days. (I normally don't mind this, but Rinjani was seriously the most dusty trek I'd done)
We walked up most part of the day and then down another sandy part to arrive at the forest just after sunset. At the crest we had some great views of the crater and the small volcano in the lake.
Our last camp had nothing special, but we had a great dinner. I was really amazed how these guys could prepare such things in the middle of the wild. The luxury hiking meals I usually cook are just oatmeal and instant noodles. And normal ones will be just cold sandwiches.
The last morning was a long walk through the forest down to the entrance gate. And from there it was just a short walk back to the village of Senaru. After all we survived and were quite happy. Though not sure if I would do it again, I'd definitely recommend this trek to those who have some hiking experience and are relatively fit.