Exhausted, but with a feeling of accomplishment I looked out over the view of Mount Rinjani. For the last few hours we’d been climbing in the dark, but as the sun edged over the horizon we were rewarded with a spectacular view of Mount Rinjani. The crater lake was laid out below us, the water a delicate turquoise in the early morning light.

If you’ve ever been to Lombok you will have seen Mount Rinjani. The volcano rises through the clouds at 3,726 meters above sea level, making it one of the highest volcanoes in Indonesia. Rinjani is also a popular tourist attraction; an adventure waiting to be conquered (it’s also been one of my favourite climbing experiences in Indonesia). Let me start at the beginning.

How Long Does it Take to Climb

The first question I found myself asking was “how much time do I need?” There’s a confusing number of different options for trekking Rinjani. You can do a 2 Day 1 Night, 3 Day 2 Night and 4 Day 3 Night and 20 Day 19 Night. Ok, I just made the last one up, but you get the idea… There are a lot of choices.

I booked the 4 Day 3 Night Rinjani Trekking tour when I went. It’s what I recommend to friends. You get to see all the sites. The trekking is hard, but not super hard (I’ve read a few reviews about the 2 Day 1 Night climb and it sounds pretty crazy). You can find a short preview of the options below.

2D/1N (Super Tough): Climb all the way up to the crater rim for sunset on the first day. If you have the energy summit for sunrise and then it’s a long day trekking down. USD 210 per person.

3D/2N (Most Popular): On the first day climb to the crater rim for sunset. On the second day summit for sunrise and spend the day by the lake and hot springs. Climb back down on the morning of the third day. USD 240 per person.

4D/3N (More Relaxed: The itinerary is similar to the 3D/2N except everything is more relaxed. If you have the time I recommend this option. USD 280 per person.

The Route: Senaru vs Sembalun

There are two main routes up Rinjani, which start from different sides of the mountain; Sembalun or Senaru. If you are doing the 2 Day 1 Night trek you will climb up and down the same route. Most companies running the 3 Day 2 Night and 4 Day 3 Night will offer you the chance to either climb up Sembalun and down Senaru or climb up Senaru and down Sembalun.

If you are doing the 2 Day 1 Night Rinjani Trekking and you want to go to the summit do the Sembalun route (you can’t summit the volcano in 2 days on the Senaru route). For longer treks I’d recommend the Sembalun to Senaru route. btw, most tour operators run their trips up the Sembalun route.

Sembalun: Of the two, this is the easier trek. It’s mostly grassland with ascents followed by open plains until you reach the base of the summit. The downside is that you’re climbing in the open sun.

Senaru: This is the physically harder and technically more difficult climb. The Senaru route is steeper, but it’s shaded (you’re climbing through rainforest most of the way). There’s a difficult rocky climb at the end, which will be tough if you’re scared of heights.

What to Get From Your Operator

There are probably 100+ tour operators, large, small or informal, running all types of trips to Rinjani. The quality of the service they provide varies considerably (as a rule of thumb the cheaper they are the less you should expect). I’d recommend booking your Rinjani trekking trip through a reputable travel agency.

At a minimum tour operators usually include porters, who will carry your supplies, a guide, food and camping equipment in the cost of the tour. Before you book your Rinjani trekking trip though make sure to confirm the following:

  • Park entrance fees included in the cost.
  • Pickup and drop off after your Rinjani trekking.
  • You get 3 meals a day and drinking water.
  • Camping equipment, sleeping bag and toilet tent are included.
  • Ratio of trekkers to guides (you want a ration of 6 to 1).

In addition to checking these points make sure that the guides tidy up after themselves. Littering is a big problem on Rinjani and its something visitors should help to control.  btw we do run Lombok tours and as you’d expect, all of the above are included in the package.

Your Packing Checklist

While you don’t need to worry about carrying food and camping equipment, there’s still quite a few things you’ll need to bring along with you on your Rinjani trekking trip. Below is the checklist I used:

  • Snacks. Lots of tasty snacks!
  • Good walking boots or trainers
  • A few pairs of socks
  • Some t-shirts (layers)
  • Nice warm jacket
  • Long hiking trousers (not jeans)
  • Headlamp and batteries/ charger
  • Gloves and a hat
  • Swimming stuff
  • Sun block (50 SPF)
  • Toilet paper or wet wipes
  • First aid kit (plasters, powder and scissors for blisters)

Oh, then there’s you!

Rinjani is one of the highest volcano in Indonesia. It’s a tough climb. While not technically challenging it is exhausting. You’ll be doing a lot of walking. If you’re young and you exercise from time to time you’ll probably be fine. Just remember, you need to be quite fit, not superman fit, to do the trek.

Highlights of the Rinjani Hike

You’ll have a lot of amazing moments while trekking Rinjani. Some of my personal highlights included the views over Lombok as you hike Sembalun, looking down over Rinjani from the peak of the volcano at sunrise and of course the nature, which surrounds you.

Hiking up Rinjani you get to see so much of Lombok and how the environment changes. The North of Lombok is dominated by valleys and hills overgrown by edeluis, ferns, tall trees and shrubs. The South of Lombok is a lot drier. You’ll see this contrast for yourself if you walk up one route and down the other (I found it particularly interesting as Lombok is on the Wallace Line, imaginary line separates the flora and fauna of Asia with that of Australasia).

Rinjani is also an important part of the local culture of Lombok. You’ll probably see local people ritually bathing in the hot springs. Or maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of a small ceremony on the side of the crater lake. It was a nice reminder of how important our natural environment is to the communities that surround them.

Final Thoughts

I hope you find this guide to trekking Rinjani useful. I know you’ll enjoy the hike, the chance to meet new people, experience new things and have an adventure. Yes it is always about the journey, not the destination. I learnt life is to be enjoyed, to be present on every step. When I climbed I enjoyed the warmth of the sunshine, the feel of the cool breeze touching my hair, the smell of the plants and the views along the way.

Have you trekked Rinjani? What did you think about the hike? What tips do you have? Share your thoughts in the comments below.