Welcome to the ultimate Mount Rinjani trekking guide! This guide will give you a detailed account of the trek, which for us is one of our most epic adventures, with some of the most incredible landscapes we’ve ever witnessed!
A Mount Rinjani trek it is not for the faint-hearted, it’s gruelling and physically intense, but if you’re up to it, the rewards are breathtaking.
In this guide to Mount Rinjani trekking, we’ll cover:
You can also click on any of these points to go directly to that section of the guide.
1. Daily review of the Mount Rinjani trekking experience
This is a full, no holds barred account of our 3 nights and 4 days on Mount Rinjani with Rudy Trekker. It’s a long read (over 7,000 words!), but if you want the most comprehensive write-up of the Rinjani trekking experience, alongside some essential top tips (all of which we’ve summarised at the end), then this is the article for you! For the record, some of the views on this trek are the best we have ever seen in all of our travels!
First, have a look at our documentary highlights video before you dive into the story of our trek (it’s only 2 minutes long)!
We began with clear blue skies. Ahead of us, dominating the skyline, and everything around it, was the epic and awe-inspiring Mount Rinjani. A simple sign pointed us in the right direction, a wooden stick and piece of cardboard stuck out of the ground in sharp contrast to the dominating sight of Mount Rinjani in the distance. This is where it all begins.
There are few treks where the scale of the challenge is laid out so obviously. Ahead of us lay 4 days and 3 nights of Mount Rinjani trekking and hiking, culminating with a 2am summit attempt at 3,726 metres altitude. We didn’t know it then, but the next 4 days would be some of the most difficult and challenging trekking we have ever attempted. The next 4 days would also provide some of the most rewarding experiences and epic landscapes we have ever seen! And no, we’re not exaggerating.
Our Rinjani Trekking Experience
Rinjani Trekking Day 1 (Sembalun Village 1,150m – Sembalun Crater Rim 2,639m)
The day started innocently enough. A hearty buffet breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and tea at Rudy Trekker HQ (you can see all the food we ate in our practical trekking Rinjani review). We’d booked a private tour, not because we’re unsociable, but more as a tacit acknowledgement that we were more than likely to be slower than most people attempting the climb, so we wanted to go at our own pace and not annoy anyone who wanted to go faster. This decision would prove wise as the trek unfolded.
After signing in at the national park checkpoint, we lugged our backpacks onto our backs, and began our trek. It was 8.30am when we started, but already the sun was beating down on us, the temperature rising with every step.
The first couple of hours were simple and leisurely. We walked through a barren land, scorched in places by the intense heat of the sun as the path gently snaked up and down the hills, guiding us on our way. For these first few hours, the mighty Mount Rinjani towered above us, the deep blue morning sky punctured now by wisps of white cloud gathering around the summit. This was the easy part.
After a couple of hours, we stopped for a hearty lunch. Our guide, Hans, pulled out two foldaway chairs to sit on as the porters prepared our lunch. We were the envy of many other groups as they sat on the floor without chairs! Lunch was magnificent, just what we needed to fuel our day of trekking. A salad to start with, followed by a large plate of chicken, rice, egg, fried noodles and tofu. To finish, some fresh watermelon, apples, pineapple and oranges. This lunch would set the tone for the rest of the trek, delicious and filling.
After lunch, we began the proper climbing. The first part was through wide open plains we’d grown accustomed to, but as we climbed higher we entered the forest. The temperature and mood changed significantly, the bright blue skies gave way to grey, miserable clouds above us. Our mood reflected this, as we went from cheery and excitable to quieter and more focused on getting up the side of the volcano before night fall.
After a further couple of hours, the temperature dropped even further as we left behind the baking hot sun drenched plains and began to move through the cloud line, and into the clouds themselves. Seeing clouds close in around you is an amazing experience, and it happened as we leaned against a tree having a break. To our left, small wisps of white and grey appeared, followed at great pace by the clouds rolling down the mountain and over us. In a matter of minutes, we went from blue skies and sunshine to grey, wet nothingness all around us. This trek just got serious!
For the next few hours, we continued to climb through the clouds, the water in the air occasionally ‘raining’ on us as we climbed higher. The wet conditions made the climb a little treacherous, as we avoided climbing on the thousands of tree roots that stood between us and the ridge. We kept our heads down, and pushed on.
After 6-7 hours of climbing, our guide Hans called back to us:
“Almost there!” He shouted, with quiet indifference.
We stopped to look up, and there it was! Perhaps 20 minutes above us, the top of the ‘ridge’ (our summit for the day) was in sight at last! With renewed vigour, we laboured on hoping for our first view of the Rinjani crater lake. However after 7 hours or so of climbing and much effort, we were rewarded with a view of…wait for it…NOTHING!
Yep that’s right, visibility was limited to a few metres in front of us due to the incessant clouds we’d spent the last few hours climbing through. Dammit!
We found our campsite and settled down, happy to have made it to base camp but disappointed with the cloud cover. It was cold now at the ridge summit, and we piled on our fleeces, waterproof jackets, gloves and woolly hats to stay warm. Perched on our foldaway seats, we looked straight out at what seemed like a white, black canvas in front of us, the clouds completely blocking out the sun and the view below. We ate our dinner and sat quietly for half an hour or so, and then, a gap in the clouds appeared!
For the next couple of hours, the clouds swirled below us, occasionally giving us a glimpse of the lake and crater. At the time we were pretty disappointed with the weather, but looking back now, given that we had almost perfect weather the rest of our trek, we can’t really complain about the first night’s weather.
After dinner, we also got our first glimpse of our route to the summit, which we would be attempting in pitch darkness at 2am the following morning. Seeing this was not good for our motivation, the summit was still a long way away, and would take at least 4 hours for us, giving us an arrival time at the summit of 6am. Tomorrow morning was going to be rough!
Sunset that evening was spectacular, made all the more epic by our camping location!
We went to bed around 8pm that night, readying ourselves for the 2am wake up call, and our night-time ascent attempt to the summit. We slept fitfully, nervous about what the next day would bring.
Rinjani Trekking Day 2 Morning (Sembalun Crater Rim 2,639m – Rinjani Summit 3,726m)
It was 01:45, and we could hear our porters and guide moving about outside their tent. It was still completely dark, aside from the millions of stars lighting up the night sky. If we weren’t so nervous about the climb, we may have stood in awe and quiet reflection of the beautiful night sky. It looked truly magnificent. Alas, we couldn’t enjoy it – our minds were elsewhere. We were mentally gearing up for our attack on the summit.
Hans (our patient guide) called for us from outside the tent, and we tentatively poked our heads out to receive our omelette and some tea. As we sat there, group after group trudged passed our tent, each beginning their own attempt at the summit. We pulled on every layer we had, flicked on our headlamps, grabbed our walking poles, and began.
At 02:30, it was time for us to leave.
This might all sound a bit dramatic. After all, we were hardly attempting the summit of Everest. But to us, with almost no sleep from the night before, and total darkness affording us no view of our path, it was nerve-wracking.
The next two hours would be gruelling. We began by ascending the steep side of the ridge, which would take 2 hours to reach the top of the ridge. From there, it would take another 2 hours to walk along the ridge and ascend the final section to the summit (3,726m).
The first 20 minutes or so were relatively comfortable, as we clambered up and down small peaks as we slowly made our way upwards. But after this trekking aperitif, it was time for the main course.
Beneath our feet, the rocks and mud we had grown accustomed to gave way to volcanic dust. Imagine trying to climb an incredibly steep sand dune, except it isn’t a sunny warm day, and you’re not even on a beach. On no, in fact, your trying to climb this sand dune at 03:00 in the morning, it’s dark, it’s cold, you’re 3,000 metres up the side of a volcano, and it’s going to take you 4 hours! Yeh, sounds great.
If you could put yourself in our dust covered shoes for a moment, your morale may have been as low as ours was at that point.
Hans reached into his bag at this point and handed us a dust mask each to wear over our mouths and noses. We wrapped these around us, and looked up. Although we could see nothing of the climb in the dark, in the distance we could see the twinkle of headlamps way up the ridge. Sometimes there would only be 2. Must be a pair of climbers. Sometimes there was a train of 5 or 6 lights, like a trail of fluorescent ants on a black canvas. Each light provided us with a guide marker in the distance of where we had to go. What we would have given to swap places with those climbers at that point!
We soldiered on, and as we climbed we were passed by a few faster groups making their way to the summit, each battling their own inner demons as they climbed. Every now and then, a pair of climbers would pass us coming down the ridge. Evidently deciding the task was too tough for them.
This brought with it conflicting emotions for us. In part it spurred us on to know there were others struggling worse than us, but in part it made us battle our own thoughts of turning back. But we didn’t, we pushed on.
Two steps forward, one step back. That was the routine in the volcanic dust. The route at our feet was relatively clear to us with our headlamps, but the darkness either side of the path worried us. All sorts of visions and questions were running through our heads:
“Are we clambering alongside steep edges into the volcano?”
“What if we slip now? Are we doomed?”
We had no idea, it was frightening and exhilarating in equal measure. But we trusted our guide and we trusted our tour company wouldn’t put us in great harm. Sure, trekking up a volcano is more dangerous than staying at home, but as we always do in these circumstances, we put our trust in the hands of the experts, they know what they’re doing.
It’s at these points on our adventures where we are reassured by our decisions to trek with local experts. We saw a few groups go up without a guide, and fair play to them, everyone has their own level of experience and confidence. But we always prefer to have a guide with us, and they have been critical to us a few times on our adventures, including when we were stranded in a Saharan sandstorm, or when we climbed Mount Toubkal in freezing temperatures. Our advice is clear, always research and pick your tour company and guide carefully. If things go wrong, they might just save your life.
Anyway, back to our Mount Rinjani summit attempt.
After around another hour or so, we stopped for a short break. We were 3/4 of the way up the ridge wall, and another 20 minutes would see us reach the top of the ridge. As we sat there, slumped on the sandy volcanic dust we had been battling for the last hour, way below us we could make out the twinkling of fires at our campsite below. It was one of those moments that seemed completely unreal both at the time, and looking back.
We’re not the most ardent trekkers or walkers, and I dare say we don’t enjoy every moment of a trek. But there is something about trekking that brings out the best in us, and our relationship. To go through a challenge so exhausting together, and to achieve something many people don’t, is the reason we take on these climbs. As was when we climbed Mount Toubkal in winter in Morocco, and Villarrica volcano in Chile, the most memorable of experiences come from the most trying of circumstances.
And these circumstances were certainly trying. As more campfires flickered into life below us, it was time to turn our backs on our temporary home and get ourselves to the ridge. We hustled ourselves up off the volcanic dust, and pushed ourselves on. One foot forward, slide back a bit. Other foot forward, slide back a bit. All the while the light of our head torches capturing the thousands of tiny dust particles kicked up with every step.
25 minutes later we made it to the top of the ridge. A cool gust of wind flowed over and around us. We stopped for a moment to get our bearings. In front of us, laid out in pitch darkness, was the crater lake of Mount Rinjani (Segara Anak), resplendent with its jewel in the crown, Gunung Barujari, a post-caldera cone that lies within it. Although it was pitch darkness, we could make out the caldera rim encircling the lake, and to our left we could see our route to the summit.
Hans (our guide) shouted above the wind:
“2.5 hours to the summit!”
He told us this partly as information, but probably mostly as a warning. Our interpretation of this statement?
The worst was yet to come.
We began walking along the ridge, tentatively putting one foot in front of the other. Some parts of the ridge were wide, some narrow with frighteningly steep slopes into the caldera. We proceeded with extreme caution.
After 30 minutes, a slow realisation began creeping over us. It was 04:30, and we had another 2 hours of climbing to complete to the summit. At this rate, we would be somewhere up the ridge as the sun rose. Basically we would miss the sunrise. I was also absolutely exhausted, and worried about the fact we still had 3 days of trekking to complete, even after this morning summit ascent (including a further 4 hours today).
Our attack on the summit was fading, but what to do? Sunrise was still an hour and a half away, and it was cold. Without any other real options, we decided to continue climbing, without any real plan in place. Perhaps we might find somewhere sheltered where we could hunker down for sunrise. Or find a rock to crouch behind. Either way, we ploughed on.
It was at this point that something remarkable happened. Something so perfectly fitting for our situation that it all made sense. One of those moments that occur when travelling where you can’t help but smile at the way the universe conspires to provide you with a solution.
Up ahead, perhaps 100 metres away, there was a small glow on the ridge. As we trekked closer, it became clear that there was a small campfire right on the ridge of the volcano! Sat next to it was an older guide, warming his hands in the darkness. This is going to sound cheesy, but at the time, it was one of the most beautiful things we have ever seen.
Imagine the emotions. We’ve just spent a day and a half climbing up a volcano, much of it in the middle of the night, in pitch darkness. We’re covered in dust, exhausted, and cold. We’re pretty sure we’re not going to achieve our goal of the summit, yet there seemingly isn’t any other option available to us.
And then, in front of us, is a kind old guide of 25 years experience, beckoning us over to join him by his fire. We looked at each other, and the decision was made. We would sit here, chat with our guides, and watch the sunrise from here. And so we sat, and munched on cookies on the rim of an active volcano, warming our hands by the fire as the sun rose.
It was truly one of our happiest travel moments.
Sometimes in life you just have to be honest with yourself, and do what you feel is right at that moment. Yes of course we wanted to conquer Mount Rinjani, and we were so close. Another 2 hours and we would have our summit bagged. But sometimes you have to think about what you would enjoy and remember more.
We had a choice, endure the pain and frustration of clambering up a ridge as the sun rose out of sight from us, or sit by a fire with new friends and soak up the moment. For us there was no question. Egos left us, and we soaked up this once in a lifetime moment.
As we sat by our fire, the stars in the sky slowly disappeared, one by one being drowned out by the impending rise of the sun. Only the moon was still visible. In the distance, on the horizon, the darkness gave way to brilliant reds, yellows and oranges, as a thin line of colour punctured the darkness.
Then the sun rose behind Rinjani, and with a bed of clouds lying below us in the distance, the silhouette of Rinjani projected itself over the island of Lombok. It was remarkable to see, and reminded us of just how epic the mountain was. Can you see the shadow of Rinjani spread out in the distance?
We huddled together and soaked it all in. The sky around us grew in colour as reds turned to oranges and yellows, and finally blues. We got our first glimpse of Gunung Barujari volcano, nestled in the caldera lake below.
It was incredible to witness. We left the guides by the fire and climbed a little further up the trail, and stood in awe of the view below us. We were completely alone, and stood for a few minutes as more and more of the crater was revealed to us.
We may not have made it to the summit, but spending an hour and a half sitting on the ridge of a volcano as the sun rose was pretty special for us.
At around 06:30, we began to make our way back to camp from the ridge. We bid our farewells to our camp fire friend, and walked back down the route we had come up. This was the first time we were able to see our route from earlier in the morning. With the crater rim snaking out in front of us, narrow parts gave way to shear drops in parts, but in general the route was clear and safe. Our darkness visions of what lay around us proved to be, for the most part, wildly exaggerated.
Heading down, we stopped for one last view of the caldera of the lake and volcano below. We may not have reached the summit, but we had a memory that will stay with us forever.
The journey back to base camp was easy and enjoyable, the loose volcanic dust that had been such a hindrance for us on the way up, became a fun and soft way to launch our way back down the ridge, and we took huge strides as the soft under footing allowed us to jog down in some places.
Within 45 minutes we were back at base camp, and our porters were ready with a hot cup of tea and our second breakfast of the day. This is where our porters really came into their own. Not only did they carry all our tents, food and cooking equipment, they were also experts at rustling up incredible meals for us.
So as we sat outside our tent at 08:00 in the morning, our guide Hans came over with our second breakfast, a burger with cheese, egg, salad and chips! How do they do it? From a small camping stove our porters created remarkable dishes. Never mind that it was the earliest we had ever eaten a burger, we scoffed it down in our tent. The hardest part of the four day trek was behind us, and we were relieved.
After an hour or so of resting, it was time to make our way down the side of the caldera and into the heart of the volcano. We packed up our bags, loaded up on water and biscuits, and left camp behind.
Rinjani Trekking Day 2 Late Morning (Sembalun Crater Rim 2,639m – Segara Anak Lake and Hot Springs 2,008m)
Our plan was simple. We were to spend the next 3.5 hours clambering down the side of the caldera, finishing up on the shore of the lake way below us, where we would camp for the evening. The lake looked tantalisingly close, but it was an onerous climb down the side of the volcano to make it there.
This part of the trek was relatively simple, we stepped, jumped and clambered over huge boulders and rocks on our way down. 2.5 hours later we had reached the valley floor, and from here it was around 1 hour to the lake. It was 11:30 at this point, and getting very hot. We buckled down and moved across the valley without a word between us, stopping only to take on water and a biscuit every now and then.
After a short pause to admire the beautiful valley view below, we kept moving. It had already been a very long day (2am to lunchtime) and we just wanted to reach the lake, and the fabled hot springs.
Yes, you read that correctly. Natural, volcanically heated hot springs awaited us at our destination!
If that didn’t spur us on, nothing would.
The last half an hour was really tough, with the intense heat and our now aching feet pushing our limits. However, we pushed on through the exhaustion and made it to the shore of the lake. And boy was it worth it!
For some reason, we both hadn’t really considered what it would be like to be down by the lake. We’d talked about what the views would be like at the summit and on the ridge, but neither of us had any thought to the view we would have from the lake.
Perhaps that’s why we were so blown away by the view in front of us.
It’s hard to really articulate how it felt to be there. We’d already trekked for 2 days to reach this point, but more than that was the fact we’d travelled halfway around the world in the first place, with the Mount Rinjani trek being one of the main reasons drawing us back to Indonesia. To finally be here, and witness this incredible view was so very special.
As we stood on the waters edge, it gently lapping against the shore, we watched the porters cast rudimentary fishing lines into the lake, which they had baited. And then they waited. It was a calming and serene scene.
Porters hunkered down in crouched positions, laughing and talking with each other on the shore. As we cast the focus of our eyes further into the distance, the lake spread out in front of us, a dark blue shimmering body which drew the eyes further away until the imposing shape of Gunung Barujari volcano appeared, quite literally growing out of the centre of the lake.
This volcano was truly remarkable, and it’s worth repeating that the small volcano you see here, sits in the middle of the caldera lake of another, larger volcano. Before we had heard of Mount Rinjani, we had no idea that a place so beautiful and awe-inspiring could exist!
Without wishing to sound dramatic, it was the most incredible natural landscape we have ever witnessed, above even the places we saw in Antarctica and South America.
It was truly mind blowing.
As we sat on the lake edge, our lunch was delivered to us, and we sat and ate as various gases and steam were slowly released from the volcano in front of us. It was almost like the volcano was resting just as we were, recovering and waiting before going again.
This beautiful vista was only tainted by one thing, the sheer exhaustion inside both of us. I (Barry) in particular was struggling, I felt incredibly dehydrated, dizzy, hot and tired. As we sat on the lake edge, I guzzled down various rehydration salts, ibuprofen and food to sort me out. It was a rough couple of hours by that lake as I tried to pull myself together.
After lunch and a rest, it was time to hit the hot springs and miraculously heal our aching muscles. We trekked the 10 minutes from the lake’s edge to the springs, and dipped ourselves in the hot waters.
We soaked our weary muscles for half an hour, before it was time to make our way to our tent.
We hauled our weary bodies back up the steep path we’d descended to reach the springs and hoped it wasn’t too far to reach our final resting place for the day. At this point, all we wanted was to collapse in our tent! But alas it turned out that we had some more hiking to do yet. It was incredibly disheartening to walk passed tent after tent, every time hoping the next one would be ours.
We’ll admit that we quietly cursed under our breaths at our porters and guide’s decision on where to camp at this point. Why couldn’t they just camp nearby? We are exhausted!
“10 more minutes!”, Hans shouted from up ahead.
Just where the heck were we camping? All we wanted to do was stop walking, after all every other group was already relaxing by their tents. And we had to walk passed them all too. We were very frustrated!
All our cursing abruptly ended a minute later however. Our guide and porters had arranged something very special for us.
We reached the lake edge, and in the distance, along the shore, we could see one solitary yellow tent pitched on the water’s edge. As we got closer, we realised the amazing effort our guides had gone to. They had raced to the lake to arrive before any other porters, and set us up on our own private beach with a direct view of the volcano. The emotions of it all were almost too much. We lay in our tent and couldn’t quite believe where we were.
I just wish we felt better than we did at this point. We guzzled down various rehydration sachets and sugary drinks, and lay prone for most of the afternoon in the tent. Occasionally we would both sit up and admire the view again before laying back down. This view from our tent was incredibly special, and will remain with us for the rest of our lives.
That night, we wolfed down a bowl of noodle soup (again, delicious) and hit the sack around 7pm. It had been a rollercoaster day. We’d began trekking at 2am, attempted the summit which now towered above us, and made our way down and across the massive valley to where we were now. We were physically wrecked.
Hans came over to our tent that evening:
“Hardest day done. Tomorrow, only 3 hours up to Senaru crater rim. Leave at 8.”
We slept deeply that night, and awoke around 6am. Gone was the exhaustion from the day before. We were well hydrated, we felt well and we were ready for our third day on our Mount Rinjani trek!
Rinjani Trek Day 3 (Segara Anak Lake 2,008m – Senaru Crater Rim 2,641m)
What a difference a day makes. Half a day of resting in our tent the day before, followed by a good night’s sleep, and we were ready to climb up the other side of the caldera. As we were on a 3 night/4 day trek, we were afforded the luxury of only a 3 hour climb up the caldera side today. If we were on a 2 night/3 day trek, we would have to climb the caldera and then descend the 5 hours back to Senaru village (601m) all in the same day. This is a big decision, and if you have time, take the 3 night option as it gives you more time to recover on the third day, plus you get to camp on the caldera rim again and enjoy the views rather than stop for a break and then leave it all behind!
Hans and our porters gave us a choice of when to begin trekking, and we opted for an 8am start as we would usually wake around 6am anyway, and we didn’t want to trek in the midday sun.
So we ate breakfast, packed our bags and began our climb to the top of the Senaru crater rim.
Taking in our view of the lake one more time, we turned and began our climb, first through the forest which surrounded the lake, the shade of the trees providing respite from the already hot, beating sun. After an hour and a half, we left behind the forest and began the much harder, steeper ascent to the crater summit.
This was where it became necessary in places to essentially climb up rocks and boulders, using our hands to pull ourselves up. In some places, there were rudimentary metal hand rails to pull ourselves up, but most of the time we basically found hand and footholds in the rock, and pulled ourselves up.
This part of the trek provides the most stunning views of the whole Mount Rinjani trek experience, so be sure to stop and take in the view at various points on the way up.
If you’re a keen photographer, the views of the lake halfway up are much better than the view from the top, so don’t wait until the top to snap some iconic photos.
After 3.5 hours, we reached the top of the crater, and boy were we happy!
It was almost midday at this point, and the sun was at its ferocious best, beating down on us. Our camp was once again perched in the best location, right on the crater rim and completely alone, but also completely exposed to the midday sun. There was literally nowhere to escape the intense heat.
The inside of our tent was like a furnace, outside was not much better. Now we could see why our guide offered to begin climbing after lunch, to avoid this intense heat at the top. But the way we saw it, we could either bare the brunt of the heat at the top, or climb up the volcano in the same heat. Either way we were going to be hot!
Our only solution was to lie just outside our tent, with our heads in the shade of our tent awning to avoid the sun on our faces. We lay there for an hour before all of a sudden the sun disappeared from above – the clouds were back!
This time, instead of being disappointed, we were elated! Over the next hour, the clouds whipped over us, bringing the temperature down, and then, from nowhere, the heavens opened and the rain lashed against the outside of our tent. Once again we were right in the middle of the clouds, the rain beating down on our tent.
We huddled inside our tent, thankful for the respite from the heat. After half an hour, the clouds partially cleared and the rain stopped.
By this point, Laura had fallen asleep, as had the porters and our guide. It was only 3pm, so the other groups coming up from Senaru hadn’t arrived at the crater summit yet. I clambered out of the tent, took my fold away seat and sat looking out on the lake below. I felt completely alone on the ridge, my only company was a handful of birds swooping around our tent, almost like they were playing a game of who could get close to the tent without hitting it.
The game quickly became, let’s see how close we can swoop onto Barry’s hat! Perhaps they thought it was a nest, perhaps they just saw the inherent fashionista styling of my hat and wanted it for themselves. Who knows. What I do know is that over the course of the next 15 minutes, they got more and more confident in swooping down on me, an almost silent whoosh accompanying the closest of fly bys.
It was a serene experience to sit atop the crater rim edge, and look out below. The volcano eerily silent, not even one other human to be seen. I sat there and pondered all that had occurred over the last couple of days, from our tough first day climb, to our failed summit attempt, to the campfire on the ridge, to the lake and our view from our tent, to the toughness of the trek and how ill I had felt the previous day.
All of this washed over me as I sat on the ridge.
After a while, Laura woke and joined me on the peak. We watched as our guide and porters stirred, and as the first groups who were only just beginning their treks began arriving from Senaru at their first night campsite. The groups we would share the ridge with that night were doing our route in the opposite direction.
We watched as they arrived after their first day, still clean and full of energy. We looked at ourselves, almost 4 days into our trek, covered head to toe in dust, bedraggled after all our trekking, the smiles on our faces beaming. Yes we were exhausted and dusty, but we were almost done! These guys still had it all to do.
Sunset that evening was a mixed occasion. For much of the early evening, the clouds covered the lake and our site, but every now and again, the clouds would clear, and the results were spectacular.
Our third campsite was just as epic as the previous two.
As the sun dipped behind the horizon, the sky once again lit up around us.
We sat and ate our fried rice, egg and crackers as the temperature plummeted around us, before retiring to our tent for the evening. We slept soundly again that evening, excited we had made it this far, and knowing the end of our trek was 4 hours away, down the outer side of the caldera and through the jungle tomorrow. All being well, we’d be back in Senaru village and our guesthouse by the early afternoon.
This was all the motivation we needed for our final push the next day.
Rinjani Trek Day 4 (Senaru Crater Rim 2,641m – Senaru Village 601m)
After another deep sleep in our trusty tent, we awoke to our 5am alarm. We didn’t want to miss our final opportunity to witness sunrise over the mountain, especially from our favourite view so far. As usual our guide and dedicated porters were already up and busy preparing our final breakfast of eggs and toast. Not once did they let us down with our meals, what a team!
The sunrise didn’t disappoint either.
It was a fittingly beautiful start to our final day on the mountain and we had a great sense of joy running through our bodies that day. We had a long descent ahead of us (2,000m in total!) but we were safe in the knowledge that there was a hot shower and thick mattress waiting for us at the end! It gave us all the motivation we needed to push through for a final 4 hours or so.
As always Hans briefed us on the route and difficulty for the day. We like expectations setting. He’d warned us that the first hour or so was the hardest consisting of a steep descent down volcanic ash and large rocks, but that we would be rewarded by an easier 3-4 hours of final descent through thick jungle. Jungle?! We were delighted to hear it. One of the hardest elements of the last 3 days had been the nature of the open plains often fully exposed to the intense heat of the sun, so to hear we would be protected by trees and jungle for a few hours today was music to our ears.
The jungle was a refreshing change and an extremely enjoyable way to end our Rinjani trek. We found ourselves with enough energy to practically skip through it, jumping over large tree roots all along the route. Our surprisingly fast descent afforded us with plenty time for mini-breaks along the way to enjoy our natural surroundings. We would just sit quietly appreciating the beautiful greenery, plants, fruits and grasshopper sounds of the jungle whilst sipping on our remaining water and cookie supplies.
It was during this time we realised and appreciated how wise our choice had been in choosing to trek the route from Sembalun to Senaru, rather than the other way around. Finishing our arduous 4 days of trekking in the cooler climate of the shaded jungle was great! And made all the more special and rewarding when we reached the famous Rinjani national park signpost in Senaru…
We had finally completed our 4 day trek! We couldn’t believe it and a great sense of joy and relief washed over us as we were welcomed to celebratory high fives and hugs from our now close Indonesian trekking companions from Rudy Trekker, our wonderful guide Hans and his awesome team of porters. We couldn’t have done it without them!
All that was left was to make a final descent to Senaru village where our jeep awaited our pick up and transfer back to Rudy Trekker HQ where our long awaited hot shower waited for us. We couldn’t wait to get back now!
There’s no doubt it had been an extremely gruelling 4 days of trekking, exceeding our expectations in all kinds of ways. We’d challenged our bodies to their limits, suffered from all sorts of exhaustion, dehydration and mental doubts along the way, but we’d also been rewarded with some of the most stunning natural scenery we have ever witnessed and an experience we’d never forget. We were stronger for it and delighted we’d taken on the challenge. We just might not be signing up for another trek for a while however! It was time to recover and take stock on what had been an incredible adventure.
2. What to pack for trekking Mount Rinjani
- We used our first aid kit a lot during our trek, especially rehydration sachets (to add to water), ibuprofen, paracetamol, bite relief cream (hydrocortisone), blister plasters and tiger balm to rub on our aching limbs each night.
- Warm clothing layers for the evenings as it gets chilly at the high altitude locations of the campsites (we used thermal layers plus fleece, trousers, jacket, woolly hat & gloves).
- We recommend wearing trekking trousers for all days as opposed to shorts to protect your legs from the rocks, sun, insect bites and just to save them from getting really dirty! (After all you can’t take a shower for 4 days!) Take plenty of clean socks too as your feet get REALLY dirty!
- We used our Salomon walking shoes which were fine but high-sided walking boots would be better for ankle protection.
- Ask for or rent walking poles. I had 2 and Barry had 1 and we found these extremely helpful especially for the steep and slippy or rocky descents (of which there are many!) and also for hauling ourselves up the steep climbing sections and the shifting volcanic ash near the summit!
- High factor sunscreen and long-sleeved breathable trekking tops as the sun is very powerful up there and the last thing you need to worry about is sunburn (on top of potential heat exhaustion!).
- A good sun hat with string band to keep it on in the wind!
- Thin gloves – these were handy for the cold nights but also for trekking to avoid sunburnt hands and rubbing on walking poles.
- Our earplugs were very useful when we wanted to get to sleep earlier than other groups(!) or for taking a nap on arrival to your campsite.
- Good head torches & breathable face masks for the early morning ascent to the summit (important for the very dusty sections) – our company provided these but not all companies do!
- Plenty of tissues and wet wipes!
- Earphones to listen to music in the evening.
- We liked having some juice sachets for an occasional change from water (as you drink so much!) however our company also provided the occasional coke, sprite or orange juice which was nice!
3. Our top tips to help you through the trek
- Choose your route carefully. Starting in Sembalun and ending in Senaru is easier if you are aiming to bag the summit because you tackle the summit earlier when you have more energy! On this route you tackle it on the morning of day 2 rather than the morning of day 3 or 4 (depending on your trek length). It is also a little easier if you spread the trek over 4 days/3 nights rather than just 3 days/2 to reduce the distances to trek on days 3 & 4 (which is especially good when you’re tired and recovering from climbing the summit!)
- The BEST view of the Crater Lake and Mount Rinjani peak is from the Senaru crater side! So if like us, you are more passionate about the view and capturing great photos rather than summit bagging (and perhaps don’t have time for the full 4 day trek), a good shorter option would be a 2 or 3 day trek from Senaru village up to the Senaru crater (and if time descending to the crater lake too) then returning by the same route to Senaru as you can enjoy the best view without needing to tackle the summit. Or, still trek the loop from Sembalun to Senaru but don’t stress about summiting for the best view! J
- We captured our best photos around half way up the inside of the Senaru crater from the lake so make sure to stop on the way up (or the way down depending on your route) to get your best shots!
- Do your research and pick a good company (even if you have to pay a little more!) We saw a huge difference in terms of quality of service, quality and volume of food/water supplies, tent quality and locations and level of English spoken by guides across the different companies along the way. We felt like we got 5 star service from the company we chose (Rudy Trekker) and would highly recommend them to anyone. (We even had a toilet tent which many other groups didn’t.)
4. Where to go (with accommodation recommendation) to recover after you complete your trek
FINALLY, and MOST IMPORTANTLY…make sure you budget in some time to do nothing and relax after your trek as your body will need it! It took us a couple of days to fully recover from our trek so we really appreciated having a few days booked on Gili Air to do this! We stayed here, but you can also search for other options using the search box below! We always use agoda.com to book accommodation in Asia, it has the best selection of accommodation and prices! Check out your options below and look forward to your reward!
So we’d highly recommend this, and a great bonus is that Rudy Trekker will provide transportation direct to the island from their office in Senaru (included in your tour price) which includes a ride in their private speed boat! Yes it’s very cool!
Disclaimer: We received a discount from Rudy Trekker, but all our opinions in this article remain our own!