How Two Beginner’s Made it up one of Indonesia’s Most Intimidating Mountains, Mount Rinjani
Just the thought of climbing a mountain intimidates me. The first image that pops in my mind is Into Thin Air, there is a huge storm, everybody is in chaos, and nobody makes it back down the mountain. All of this being said, Mount Rinjani was still on our list of activities to do in Lombok. After hearing and reading about it, we had to consider the possibility of climbing this mountain in some form or another.
We eventually decided that we needed to exhaust ourselves in our research. And that we did, countless blog posts read on people’s experiences, TripAdvisor reviews, and any and all things the internet and our guide books provided for us on trekking–as the locals call it. How many days should we do? We had to find a company that we 100% trusted and make sure we had all of the gear and supplies needed to do this trek.
Reading over all the information we could find, we decided that the 2D1N (two day one night) trek from Senaru to the crater rim was the only climb we would consider. We were bummed that we would not be going the summit, but this is what felt comfortable for us. We knew this would be incredibly difficult regardless, so anything we could do to make ourselves feel better about it was worth it.
Finding a company was difficult, we read countless reviews of all the companies we could find in Rinjani, and most of the time, they all had great reviews. However, whenever we saw one review that said something such as “not enough water packed” we immediately took that company off of our radar. We eventually decided on Green Rinjani. A company that prides itself on ensuring no waste will be left on the mountain–a very common problem in Indonesia as we have touched on previously.
Even though Green Rinjani is a little bit more expensive than other companies, it was by far the best we felt about all companies we read about. Plus, we were able to get a private tour with a guide and two porters for just the two of us in addition to being able to plant a tree when we get to the top of the Rim! We felt comfortable, somewhat confident, and ready to go. 2,641 meters to the Crater Rim, let’s do this!
Gear and Supplies for the Trek
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Before getting into the hike, here is a list of gear we brought:
- Keen Hiking Boots, Lowa Hiking Boots
- Osprey Backpack
- Quick Dry Hiking Socks – We used Patagonia, but you can find similar ones here
- Water proof hiking pants – Alicia used Patagonia (like these), Joe used L.L. Bean
- UPF quick dry button down shirts
- UPF quick dry shirt
- Patagonia Hat
- Sony Camera
- Coppertone SPF 70 sunscreen
- Bug Spray
- Rain Jacket
- Warm Clothes (including knit hats and gloves)
- Ziplock Bags for Toilet Paper (waste is a real thing on this mountain people!)
- Trail Mix, Granola Bars
- 4 Extra Bottles of Water
Want to see the complete list of what we packed for 5 months abroad? Get the full rundown here.
Green Rinjani provided:
- Tent, sleeping bags, pads, and pillows
- All food for meals and snacks including two very full lunches, snacks at each break, a very full dinner, and popcorn at the rim with a view!
- Bottled Water
- All cooking gear for our freshly prepared meals
- Trekking poles (these cost extra to rent)
- A toilet tent
- Camp chairs for eating meals
We had been preparing to hike during our time in New Zealand, so we did not have to go out and purchase any of this while in Indonesia–we would not have considered the hike if we were not already prepared like this. And looking back at this list, the only things I wished we did not bring were the granola bars and snacks. Thanks to our company, we had more than enough food the entire time up Mount Rinjani.
While we have been training for a half-marathon, we thought we were in ok shape, not leaning too much in either direction. However, just looking at the mountain from below, we knew this would be hard. The trek has four different positions that are suggested break stops before reaching the Crater Rim. Most tours offer snacks for each break, another thing to make sure is included in your cost or if this is something you should bring for yourself. We were mostly treated to packaged cookies. If you do this hike, you will be so grateful for each and every one of them.
Entrance to Position 1: Slowly starting to rise up the mountain through the jungle. A good way to start as nothing is too difficult but it shows you what you are in for. Expect it to be hot and humid here. 2 km. It took us 40 minutes.
Position 1 to Position Extra: Similar as the last. A slow and moderately steep rise up into the jungle but not too strenuous. Still hot and humid. 1.3 km. It took us 40 minutes.
Position Extra to Position 2: This is where it hits you. This is a very steep uphill and challenging. The beginning of the real climb up. Still hot and humid here. 2.4 km. It took us 60 minutes.
* On the way up, we stopped for lunch at position 2. On the way down, position extra.
Position 2 to Position 3: A little bit easier than the previous and still in the jungle, but still not easy. This is where the trek starts to get to you, but there is more to come. Weather is still pretty hot and humid here. 1.5 km. It took us 90 minutes.
Position 3 to Position 3B: Another point that went by quicker than you would think. It is still very difficult but manageable. This is where the ground starts to change a bit from the wet jungle floor to a drier and sandier ground and the trees begin to thin out. You are more in the sun at this point so load up on sunscreen here (or rain gear depending on the weather). The temperature also drops significantly at this point.
Position 3B to Crater Rim: Without a doubt, the hardest part of the trek. Straight up the mountain, small rocks making it incredibly slippery, and you have already been hiking for six hours so your legs are tired as is. Be prepared to slip and fall your way up this last part. For this section, you are essentially baking in the wind and sun as it starts to get even cooler. Make sure to adjust clothing accordingly! These last two do not have a true position so we grouped them together. 1.5 km. It took us 120 minutes.
It is a very difficult hike, you are constantly rising up the mountain, but footing is pretty solid until you get to the second to last position. The final 600 meters or so to the Crater Rim is by far the hardest part of the trek. It is very steep and has tiny little rocks which also make it very slippery as well. Having our guide was a huge help here, even just to reassure ourselves that we were safe and we were capable of doing it.
Making it to the Crater Rim was one of those moments where we felt, “This was all worth it”. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places we have ever been to. Lake Segara Anak, with its special blue water surrounding the inner baby volcano was incredibly unique and gorgeous. And the view. My gosh, the view. We were able to see Bali and the Gili Islands while the sun was setting. It was the kind of moment that we will never forget. We could only imagine what the summit looked like on-top of Mount Rinjani after these views.
The trek down in many ways may have been more difficult, those little rocks were incredibly slippery. That, plus your body being so exhausted from the day before, we were very grateful we only did the two day trek!
This trek was something that absolutely terrified us, the night before we could barely sleep and kept thinking to ourselves, what the heck are we doing? However, once we started, and once we got to the Crater Rim, we knew it was all worth it. If we are ever in Lombok in the future, there is no doubt we would do it all over again!
Tips for trekking Mt. Rinjani
- Do research on the companies and find what works for you. We wanted to be environmentally conscious and also wanted to be just the two of us so Green Rinjani was a great fit.
- If you’re company is bringing food, ask how much they are bringing–be specific with your questions! It was ultimately extra weight in our packs that we never used, a big no-no while hiking. The food made by our porters was all local, and may have been our favorite meals in Indonesia.
- Tip your porters and guide. You absolutely would not make it up the mountain without them. Whatever you feel comfortable with giving them, do it!
- Bring clothes to sleep in. Comfy sweater or pants, whatever it is, it makes a difference. Having a fresh shirt and pants to sleep in were a game changer. So much more comfortable.
- CARRY OUT YOUR TRASH! (Including toilet paper) This mountain has been subject to years of trash abuse. Make a difference and take out what you bring it.
- Do not feed the monkeys. I know, they are incredibly cute, and they do hang out by the break points. But it is a very bad habit for the monkeys to take food so do not do it!
- Rent/Bring a trekking pole. It makes a huge difference during the very steep parts of the hike to get yourself balanced.
- We had beautiful weather, but from what we hear, that is not a guarantee. So it would be a good idea to be prepared for the elements.
- Bring your warm clothes with you for the peak. Some companies will provide this if you do not have it, but double check, it gets cold at the top!
- Always be safe, but do not forget to have fun! This can be a once in a lifetime experience, so even though it is incredibly difficult and challenging, bask in the beautiful moments. I found myself just laughing sometimes. How often do you get to climb up a mountain jungle to see not one but two volcanoes? Well worth it!
All the reviews in this post are our own, we have not been compensated in any way for these reviews.