A Guide to Hiking Mount Rinjani

Mount Rinjani caldera and its crater lake Segara Anak, also known as “the child of sea”.

This post came a little late. It’s been 2 years since I hiked Mount Rinjani with my best friend. Recently, I’ve had friends asking me about trekking Rinjani, so here is my humble guide to Mount Rinjani.

Mount Rinjani

Mount Rinjani is located on the island of Lombok, a ferry ride away from the world famous Bali. Everyone has heard of Bali, but few know of the hidden treasure just a little east of it. In fact, Bali and Lombok belong to the same archipelago called the Lesser Sunda Islands in Indonesia. Mount Rinjani is an active volcano, with a caldera on top which is filled partially by the crater lake known as Segara Anak or Child of the Sea. The caldera also contains many hot springs which are free for hikers to explore and take a dip after an exhausting hike in the day.

Rinjani was the only proper trek I had ever done, but I had to say — it is not for the faint-hearted. I encountered many seasoned trekkers along the way, who told me that the summit climb in Rinjani was one of the hardest route they had ever did. If you are serious about hiking Rinjani, be prepared to be mentally and physically challenged on the mountain.

Difficulty level: 9/10

Experience: Beginner to experienced hiker

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” 
John Muir
The daily migration of mist into the caldera at sunset.

Flight and Transportation

The simplest way to get to Lombok Island is to fly, it only takes 2 hours 45 min. Direct flights from Singapore to Lombok International (LOP) are available by SilkAir and Garuda Indonesia. A pair of return tickets cost about $500-$700 depending on the season you go.

If you are planning to go in the peak season, which is from June to July, I recommend booking early or take indirect flights. The cheapest way I found is to fly to Jakarta, Indonedia and transfer to a domestic flight such as Lion Air (which was what I did in 2014).

Singapore (SIN) — Jakarta (CGK) — Lombok International (LOP)

Why? Because budget airlines including AirAsia, Flyscoot and Jetstar have frequent flights to Jakarta at sale prices as low as $59 (all inclusive) for a pair of return tickets!!! And Lion Air fly to Lombok at about $100. Cost of flights < $300 done! My advice for transfers would be to give yourself ample time at Jakarta Airport — at least 3 hours between flights. From international to domestic terminal you will need to take an airport shuttle.

Here is my trick to booking the cheapest flight: www.skyscanner.com.sg

Finding the right Trekking Company or Guide

You will need a trekking guide and porter for your trek in Rinjani, regardless of whether you are a dauntless-born or erudite-born. Not because the mountain hides mazes that makes you go around in circles or beasts and carnivorous plants that eat you up alive, but for the sheer amount of water, food and camping equipment you have to carry. You will tire yourself out before getting to the crater rim. The routes on the mountains are well established and you will see travellers and trekkers along the entire route, but a guide could be a savior if you need a shortcut after half a day of hike. I recommend:

Green Rinjani http://www.greenrinjani.com

Trekking Rinjani http://www.trekkingrinjani.com

What the trekking packages from these companies include: transportation from and to the airport, 1 night accomodation (standard room with breakfast) at their base camp before you start your trek, a trekking guide and a porter, camping equipments up in the mountains, water and food. You can choose between Standard service and Deluxe Service package. The differences lies in the kind of camping equipments, sleeping mats and food you get up in the mountains.

Apart from trekking, Green Rinjani allows every trekker to plant a tree and they never leave any rubbish behind after camping, which is why I chose them! Being environmentally conscious is a really important part of travel whenever you venture into mother nature.

Our trekking guide Dongo, doubling up as our fisherman. Thanks to him, we had fishes for dinner.

Trekking Route & The Length of your Trek

Most trekking companies in Rinjani offers 2 routes up Rinjani:

  1. Sembalu Lawang — Plawangan Crater Rim — Crater Lake Segara Anak — Senaru village
  2. Senaru village — Crater lake Segara Anak — Plawangan Crater Rim — Sembalu Lawang

Yes, route 2 is basically the reverse of route 1. And I would definitely recommend route 1 over route 2. For route 1, we started off at Sembalu Village and eased into our trek with 3 hours of levelled trails with amazing sceneries before ascending up dense forests to the crater rim (if you choose Route 2, you will do this on the last day). For the first night we camped at the crater rim before our 2 am summit push. On the second day, after we descended from the summit at around 10 am, we packed up our tents and continue the descend from the crater rim to the crater lake. On the second day, we had a choice of staying at the lake for the night or continue to ascend back up the crater rim. And honestly camping at the lake was the BEST night spent on Mount Rinjani. On the third day, we ascended again up the crater rim via a different route and camped in the dense forest where we shared our meals with monkeys and rats. On the last day, we had to descend through dense and steep forest to Village Lawang (if you choose Route 2, you would have to do the ascend as soon as you start off your trek, which can be daunting and exhausting before you even do the summit push).

The Sembalu Lawang trail where we started off our 4D3N trek up the active volcano.

My friend and I were complete novices at trekking, but we did have a decent level of fitness before our attempt at Mount Rinjani. And we were both crazy over the idea of trekking a volcano and camping over a crater lake, so we chose 4D3N for our package. You can choose the length of your trek depending on your willingness to stay in the mountain and your fitness level. The routes for 3–5 days is generally the same. I’d recommend 4D3N/5D4N for all beginners! If you think you have a decent level of fitness, go for 4D3N. I would not recommend 3D2N because the package does not allow you to camp at the Crater Lake. Once you reach the lake, you have to continue your ascent into the forest and camp in the forest instead because that’s the only way to allow you to finish the entire trek in 3 days. And trust me, you dont’t want to miss the best part of Rinjani — breathtaking starry night, the great migration of morning mist (for the lack of better words, it’s mythical) and a relaxing bath in the hot spring.

What You Need for Trekking Rinjani

  • A rain jacket or rain coat — pouring rain is common in Rinjani, we got completely drenched in the forest, but fortunately it was on the last day of our trek.
  • Proper trekking shoes/track shoes — I cannot stress how important shoes are, they can either make or break you in the mountain. We wore track shoes, but shoes like those weren’t made for jungles and volcanic ashes, they offered poor grip. We had a tough time on the summit and in the forest.
  • A good sturdy backpack — a backpack with proper back support is crucial. And pack only the absolute necessities. Your back and legs will thank you a million times on the mountain.
  • An attitude of being physically and mentally challenged — the trek itself was not difficult, if I could do it without any prior physical training, I think anyone could. But the mountain will challenge you physically and mentally and pushes you to your limits over and over again for that 4 days. There was not a single moment on the summit push we did not feel like giving up. Determination was what sustained us through that 4 hours of excruciating climb. And what the mountain rewards you for your unrelentless spirit is beyond what you could ever ask for.
“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” — Sir Edmund Hillary

Why You Should Hike

If you had always wanted to hike a mountain, camp at a volcano and cliff jump into a hot spring, stop hesitating and start planning now! Here are some reasons why you should:

  • Friends of a lifetime — I hiked Rinjani with my best friend, and the experience forged a bond like nothing else. We still talk about Rinajni every single time we meet — we talked about how stupid we were to underestimate the mightiness of Rinjani, how we literally carried each other through, when my friend had terrible diarrhoea and how incredible it was to finish at the summit and take in the breathtaking scene of the sunrise.
  • A journey of self-discovery — the mountain helps you redefine your patience, endurance and limits. You will find that you can climb higher, be stronger and more patient than you think.
Going to the mountains is going home.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity”
  • Reconnect with nature — John Muir called the wilderness a necessity. There is a sense of ease, peace and stillness in nature that you’d never be able to find anywhere else. Going to the mountains is going home.

Happy hiking friends :)

Mount Rinjani is still an active volcano till this day.
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