At 3,726 metres, Rinjani is the second highest mountain in Indonesia outside of Papua. It is very climbable by visitors with a high level of physical fitness. Critical is to understand and respect this great mountain: sadly, visitors have died here through failing to follow sensible procedures and make all necessary preparations.
Few actually make the very strenuous effort required to reach the actual summit but instead stop at the crater rim (approx 2,700 m) where the views of the crater lake are mind blowing. To make the extra 1,000 metre ascent to the very top requires a considerably higher level of fitness, not to mention strength of spirit and sense of adventure.
Typically, a trek to the crater rim involves two days and one night on the mountain. The longer ascent to the summit can be done with just one night’s camping but is often part of a longer trek of 3-4 days and two or three nights.
The current park entrance fee is Rp 150,000. Of this 13% is allocated to the Gunung Rinjani National Park, 62% to the Rinjani Trek Ecotourism Program and 25% to support the Rinjani Trek operation and maintenance program.
An organized trek is by far the easiest, safest and most popular option but it is also quite possible to make all of your own arrangements and just hire a guide and equipment from one of the trekking centres on the mountain. Rinjani Park regulations stipulate the use of a certified guide so even the most experienced and well prepared mountaineers will still need to climb Rinjani with the services of a professional guide. The mountains Licensed Guide Association (HPI) issues certification to the Rinjani guides and porters but it should be understood that the certification standards and required training are no where near as rigourous as would be expected in many other countries. Serious accidents including fatalities do occur on Rinjani treks when led by these accredited guides.
Proper sturdy climbing/hiking boots are an absolute necessity as is a substantial waterproof, windproof jacket, and a head lamp. If you are going to the top, use of poles (walking sticks) for getting through the scree (loose rock) at the top are also highly recommended. By 2000m, you will feel like you are not in the tropics any more as rising wet, hot air loses its temperature and may fall as rain. If inappropriate clothing becomes wet difficulties will set in as air temperatures towards the summit are as low as 4C, often with a significant extra wind chill factor. You must prepare accordingly.
At times it seems that everyone in Lombok is a trekking guide for Mount Rinjani, especially on the main tourist strip in Senggigi.
Take most of what you are told with a pinch of salt and you will find the most experienced and reputable guides at the main trekking centres at Senaru and Sembalun Lawang. It does happen that tourists who are highly experienced hikers or climbers may find themselves far better prepared and skilled for mountain conditions than the local guides. Codes of conduct have been developed for the local trekking support community that include climbing safety, environmental awareness and responsible use. Some of the guides and trekking organisations are better than others at respecting these agreements and guidelines. It is also a good idea to independantly check for any volcanic alerts that may have been issued for Mount Rinjani.
Many visitors have found it is preferable to avoid package deals purchased away from Senaru, and instead negotiate either with one of the three reputable trekking providers listed below or with the guides themselves to ensure that they are actually competent. If there is a problem, you can then find a different guide company in Senaru or Sembalun.
To help you judge the experience, abilities and equipment provision of a potential guide and support team it may assist to consider the following:
- Preparation for rain squalls such as waterproof covers for equipment and supplies, personal raincoats or emergency ponchos
- Ensuring that all trek participants are provided with clothing suitable to the conditions and provided with a thermally protective layer such as polypropylene
- First aid equipment and training including treatment for exposure, provision of supplies such as emergency splints for fractures and space blankets
- Provision of a trowel or fold-away shovel for burying human waste and the provision of toilet paper
- If the guide team are cooking or handling food are they going to wash and clean their hands, all plates and utensils using detergent/soap
- Ensure that the guides and porters understand how to pitch their supplied tents and can demonstrate that the tents are complete.
- Ensure it is demonstrated that the tents can be pitched using adequate pegs and with the fly sheets secured away from the tent so that moisture does not seep in even if it is windy and raining.
- Provision of a route map detailing emergency assembly points and demonstrate a capacity to communicate a position to a rescue party
- That an emergency management plan is in place in case of accident or other emergency during the climb
- Availability of a working mobile phone for emergency calls and provision of a SIM card that has sufficient credit to deal with communications in an emergency
- Availability of a serviceable VHF hand held radio with two fully charged batteries and a capacity to use it in case of emergency.
- Availability of a satellite phone in serviceable condition, in service, with active network reception and supplied with a fully charged battery
Guide fees are generally negotiable. Only the Rp 150,000 park entrance fee is set by the park authority. A sensible package price range would be:
- 2 days, 1 night trek to the crater rim only: Rp 1,500,000 to Rp 2,000,000 per person.
- 4 days, 3 night trek: Rp 2,500,000 to 3,000,000.
These trekking fees will vary though according to how busy the guides are, how many people are in your party and if a commission is due to a referring person or agency. Some guide companies will charge as little as Rp 900,000 per person for a 2-night trek in the off-season, but it is important to check they are properly experienced, equipped and provisioned. Ensure your trek price is all-inclusive of any extra charges for transportation, provisions, porter fees and the park entrance fees.
The following all offer organised treks with accommodation, transport to the mountain, return to your accommodation and can also help with hiring a private guide if required.
The Senaru Ascent Route
This is by far the most used route as it allows the (relatively) less strenuous trek to the crater rim only. You start at an elevation of 600 metres in Senaru village, normally in the late morning or early afternoon and make the 6 hour ascent to the crater rim before dark. The route passes through POSII at 1,500 m, breaches the treeline at 2,000m (POSIII) and then it is a bit of slog up gravel paths to the camp site just below the crater rim at 2,600m. Wake before dawn to make the 20 to 30 minute final climb to the crater rim to enjoy sunrise and the iconic view across Segara Anak to Gunung Baru.
If that has not sapped all of your energy you can then make a very precarious descent down to shores of the crater lake and bath in the hot waters. You need some confidence to do this as it is a steep descent of 600+ metres using handrails and ropes.
And then it is back to Senaru the way you came.
There is an option to go on to Plawangan II where you overnight again before making the ascent to the absolute summit. This is not especially recommended from the Senaru side though. If you want to get to the top, the climb to Plawangan II is best made from Sambulan Lawang.
The Sambulan Lawang Ascent Route
Starting in the morning from the Rinjani Trek Centre in the village, the climb to Plawangan II at 2,638m will take about 8 hours via POSI (1,300M), POSII (1,500m) and POSIII (1,800m). Overnight at the campsite here and go for the summit starting at 3.00AM the next day. You need to be well rested as this is a stiff task – the final climb is nearly 1,100 metres on difficult ground.
Serious trekkers should explore the options of staying on the mountain for 3 nights or more with a planned trek that takes in the crater rim, down to the lake shore, the absolute summit and more. Such treks can start in either Senaru or Sambulan Lawang.
You do not have to climb Mount Rinjani to enjoy the splendours of the national park. Indeed unless you really think that you are physically capable it would be foolhardy to even try. You will find plenty of guides in either Senaru or Sembalun Lawang to suggest lower level treks through beautiful valleys.
- At Sembalun Lawang, there are several popular walks which will take you into remote villages famous for weaving. The Rinjani Trek Centre in the main village will be able to help you with these.
- At Senaru take your time to explore the local villages. There are several nice waterfalls in this area all of which are reached via fairly gentle hikes.