Climbing Mt. Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia the crazy way

I got this idea in my head, and when that happens, it tends to get stuck there until I do something about it. I’d heard about Mt. Rinjani, an active volcano on the island of Lombok, east of Bali. Sat one evening in Senggigi warding off the 27 thousandth street seller of bracelets, I suggested to Ruth, Alex and Maïke that we climb to the crater rim for sunrise.

No problem, everyone up for the challenge. Alex stumbled upon a friendly Indonesian guy from Borneo who could help us organise the trip and turned out to be the sole person in Senggigi who didn’t screw us for every penny we own. Hooray.

We bounced our way over potholes, the car sat firmly on the rev limiter and, hoping the engine wouldn’t explode, made it two hours later to the start of the hike at Senaru where we met our guide, a friendly reserved fella which, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve forgotten his name. What I do know is that he likes a cigarette, so from now on we’ll call him Benson. We set off at 10pm in the pitch black, head torches glowing weakly (cleverly I’d forgotten to replace the batteries), and wound our way up the mountain to the first of 4 rest stops. At each stop we ate copious Oreos to try to inject some life into ourselves while Benson watched us with a small smile and a cigarette, obviously.

I won’t bore you with the details of most of the climb but let me tell you, it was tough.About 2000 metres climbed over tough terrain, with each step everyone hated me just a little more for suggesting this crazy idea. Then, at last, with sunrise approaching fast, the end came into view.

Sunrise Mt. Rinjani

In a scene not unlike the final moments of Lord of the Rings, Ruth, like Frodo, literally dragged herself forwards towards the top of the volcano. Seeing her in distress, like Samwise, and the hero that I am, hoisted her up onto my shoulders and sprinted the final few hundred metres to the crater rim where Alex and Meike were waiting with applause and a welcome box of doughnuts… with cheese on them, and some green bread, and some chocolate sauce. Alright, I may be exaggerating back there, I might have stood about 10 metres further up the track saying encouraging things like, “It’s a mental thing Ruth, find that second wind” (what an arse I can be sometimes) but we really did stuff down green bread and cheesy doughnuts. We would have eaten each other though we were that hungry.

We spent a sleepy hour on the crater rim taking photos as the sun rose higher into the sky, secretly dreading the fact that we’d have to do the whole walk again to get back to civilisation. The view was spectacular though. Absolutely top notch. The tiny plume of smoke rising up a reminder that the volcano is still very active, having last erupted in 2005. I didn’t know this at the time but Rinjani was also the subject of the 2010 National Geographic Photography Contest, with smoke billowing out, no such luck for us.

Sunrise on Mt. Rinjani

Sunrise on Mt. Rinjani. Worth it.

Benson lit another cigarette, nonplussed by the view he’d seen 1500 times (we worked it out, lots of time on our hands you know?), and wandered over to me. One confusing and broken conversation later he told me that he rarely does this hike all in one night, turns out we were pretty mental to try it, and that was probably what he and the other guides and porters were having a right old laugh about.

We eventually plucked up the energy to start the walk back, the only goal in my head – a hot shower. 6 hours later we made it back, exhausted, to the car, after a kilometre extra for fun since he’d parked further away (You can imagine how happy we were about that!) We said our thank yous and goodbyes to Benson who waved a cigarette at us and we shot off back to Senggigi.

So, if Rinjani’s on your list of things to do in Indonesia, and it should be, then learn from our mistakes, do it over a couple of days and sleep up on the crater rim, the view at sunrise is breathtaking.

Click the images to enlarge:

Campers Mt. Rinjani

Not a bad spot to wake up.

Sunrise from Mt. Rinjani

Sunrise from Mt. Rinjani

Looking out from Mt. Rinjani towards Bali.

The gang at the Mt. Rinjani

Exhausted but happy and full of cheese doughnut.

Gunung Rinjani at sunrise

Alex and Meike

Sleeping beauties Alex and Meike.

Mt. Rinjani end

The end!! Just another km to the car.

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5 Responses to “Climbing Mt. Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia the crazy way”

  1. Che says:

    Hi andy, had to read this entry as its something ive done myself. Love the photos! My camera broke at the top as its was freezing conditions adding to the fact that on the way up it rained for about 8 hours. We actually stopped at the second rest stop and slept in the jungle for 2 hours because the rain was so bad. That was a tad scary but we had to move on because like you we had to do it in one night for the sunrise! The amazing thing I found is that when your at the top and its pitch black you really have no idea about the landscape down below in the crater until the sun rises and the mist clears. Did you encounter the monkeys at the final stop…eating everyones food? The worst thing as regards all the bloody walking was the walk down…that was definatly the worst. Not sure if you have been or intend to go, but I reccomend checking out the gili islands. They are 3 islands and you can walk the circumference of them in a few hours. You can get there via a fast boat for extra cash or a slow boat for less, I reccomend the slow boat, because you will pass through plenty of lombok. Been following your blog for a while, love the style, love the stories and really like your photos and ruths artwork.

    • Andy says:

      Thanks for the comment Che. We only came across the monkey’s on the way down, they were a bit shy though. Couldn’t agree more about the way back, definitely the worst bit.
      We finished on Lombok now I’m afraid and decided not to go to the Gillis. Just seemed a bit expensive and we needed to move on, we did go to the south Gillis to dive though. So cool.

      • Che says:

        Theres too much of indonesia to see isnt there! We heard mixed things about the Gillis, we got told there was nothing happening there, but when we arrived we had a great time. Where to next? also is there anywhere you put your photos online for me to look at? Flickr? something to view them bigger.

        • Andy says:

          You can click the images to make them larger on screen but it’s on the list of things to do to put them up on a site like Flickr. We need some decent internet too.
          Keep an eye on facebook though, we upload images in big groups now and again. Just about to organise the second load of NZ pics. We miss that place!!

  2. hi.. its looks amazing. thanks for your post about Lombok especially about Mount Rinjani that we proud. be sure to visit to Lombok again 🙂

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