At 3726m (12,224ft) Gunung Rinjani is the 2nd highest mountain in Indonesia. It’s thought that the name Rinjani comes from an old Javanese term for ‘God’. Mt Rinjani is sacred to Hindus and Sasaks who make pilgrimages to the summit and lake to leave offerings for the gods and spirits. To the Balinese, Mt Rinjani is one of three sacred mountains, along with Bali’s Agung and Java’s Bromo. In this post, I’ll show you the complete guide to trekking Mt Rinjani.
Why trekking Mt Rinjani?
As you climb up, you will meet many locals, as well as travelers from Singapore, Malaysia and other regional countries. I am usually a fast walker but my pace was slowed down because of all the smiling, friendly faces and other trekkers who wanted to have a chat about where I was from and why I was climbing this sacred mountain. From my perspective, this was one of the best parts of the trip and really gave me a sense of connection to the land, the country and the people that you don’t get on popular treks that cater mostly to foreigners.
Difficulty of trekking Mt Rinjani
Indeed, I and many other travelers rate this as one of the truly spectacular experiences you can have in Indonesia. Make no mistake though – this is not an easy trek. You are covering some 2000 vertical meters within a 24-hour period, then another day or two of up and down over hundreds of meters more (depending on your itinerary). But the view of sunset over the volcano caldera from your tent at base camp and the view of sunrise from the peak you’ve trekked for hours through the dark – not to mention the overwhelming sense of accomplishment – make this trip is an absolute must when traveling to Indonesia. And because it is so accessible from Bali, Lombok and even Java, it means that it should be a part of nearly all travelers’ itineraries when coming to the region.
Best time of year to go trekking Mt. Rinjani
The best time of year to climb is during the April-November dry season. The trekking trails are generally closed during the rainy season. In recent years the early months of the ‘dry season’ have become more prone to rain and you should be prepared to encounter heavy rain and low visibility with slippery tracks.
Should you go solo, or should you book a tour?
There were many locals who were doing the trek unassisted and a couple of foreigners who braved it. But remember that you will need to bring all of your own gear, including tent and sleeping bag, as well as your food. For this reason, it is recommended to book a tour. Perama is a local company that has been running tours across the country for nearly 50 years. Although not the cheapest (nor the most expensive) they are always a safe bet for a professional, well-run tour.
Tour costs: this can vary from 1.200.00 IDR at the very low end to upwards of 3.000.000 or more, depending on the level of service offered.
Park fees: 150.000 IDR (should be part of tour package)
There are different routes to take and varying number of days in which you can tackle Mt Rinjani. The most popular will be the 3D/2N trek from Senaru that takes you to the summit of Rinjani on the 2nd morning, then to the caldera and a stop at the hot springs to rest your weary bones, before heading back to Sengiggi, the Gili’s or even staying near the park close to a stunning waterfall. For more information on the different routes you can take, check out here.
Inside the huge caldera, which lies some 600m below the rim, is a stunning turquoise lake, Danau Segara Anak (Child of the Sea). The Balinese toss gold and jewellery into the lake in a ceremony called pekelan, before they make their way towards the sacred summit.
What to pack:
If you do not have the following, or do not want to purchase them, you can rent many of these items for your trek: Head torch, rainproof jacket, warm jacket/hat/gloves (it can get very cold during the early morning summit attempt), good walking shoes or boots, trekking poles, backpack, small snacks.
Please remember that Rinjani is an active volcano that occasionally erupts, such as in September 2016. This should not dissuade you from planning a trek, but closely monitor the park’s official website for any changes in conditions that may affect your trip.
Please be aware that there are some scams that surround Mt Rinjani tours. Every single travel agent on Lombok, Bali and in the Gili’s will sell you this tour and everyone has a different price. As I was a long term traveler on a budget, I wound up booking the cheapest I could find, which turned out to be a mistake. Remember, sometimes you get what you pay for! After we came down from the peak we were meant to have breakfast and then continue on to the caldera for a third day, but our guide claimed that we had been robbed of our food overnight and could not continue. This was quite clearly untrue and they only wanted to charge us for a 3-day tour but deliver a 2-day tour.
After spending the day arguing with the guide, the owner of the tour company on the phone and finally the park rangers, we finally got a portion of our money back. But it did sour the experience slightly so remember, sometimes you get what you pay for!
Final Thoughts From Chloe
I’ve heard so much about Mt Rinjani. Thanks Colin Miller for sharing with us his journey to the amazing mountain. After reading his post, I’ve made up my mind to trekking Mt Rinjani next year. Are you inspired as much as I do? Tell us your thoughts by commenting below!
Colin Miller is an amazing digital and content marker. He is always on the hunt for unique experiences and connecting with locals and other travelers. Find out more about his stories here.