Mt Rinjani Trek
When we decided to go back to Kuta, Lombok to go surfing, we knew we needed to climb Mt. Rinjani. The first time we were in Indonesia, climbing Mt. Rinjani wasn’t possible since it was rainy season, and we always felt a bit disappointed we hadn’t visited the mighty Rinjani, the second highest peak in Indonesia. So, this was our time to do a Mt. Rinjani tour.
Climbing Mt. Rinjani was absolutely one of the biggest highlights of our trip back to Lombok. The views are incredible, and even if you don’t summit, you’ll have a great sense of accomplishment to just be at the beautiful crater lake.
Are you looking to climb Mt. Rinjani? Here is the complete review of our Mt Rinjani trek with Jou Trekking, including a packing list for your trek up the mountain. Mount Rinjani hiking is one of the most exciting things you can do in Indonesia, and it won’t disappoint you!
When we decided to climb Mt. Rinjani, choosing to go with a guide was a no-brainer for us. While it is possible to climb it without a guide, I honestly don’t know how we would have done it without the crew from Jou Trekking. Our Rinjani trekking guide provided everything we needed – if you don’t go with a guide, you’re going to need to lug up (not to mention find a place to buy) all of your gear which includes a tent, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, cooking stove etc. They take care of all the standards backpacking equipment for you and haul it up the mountain, so unless you’re planning to tour around Indonesia with all that gear, then you should definitely book a guide. The guide is also responsible for making sure you stay safe on the mountain, and safely get up and down the mountain. Finally, the porters who will accompany you will not only haul everything up the mountain, but will also cook all of your meals for you – and these meals are pretty incredible.
Not sure what you need for hiking? Don’t miss this list of hiking must haves
What to expect trekking Mt Rinjani
First of all, you’ll want to arrive to the island of Lombok at least one day in advance of your Mt. Rinjani trek. You can arrive by air, or by boat. Keep in mind that if you arrive by air, Jou Trekking will pick you up and drive you the three hours to Senaru, where you’ll stay the night before your Mt. Rinjani Trek.
Jou Trekking will take care of your accommodations in Senaru, so all you’ll need to do is arrive by boat or by plane and relax until you arrive at your hotel. Once you arrive, Jou will meet you and give you a basic briefing on how the next day will go. No worries if you have big luggage with you – you can leave your luggage with Jou and just bring your backpack with you when you go trekking Mount Rinjani Indonesia.
The night before our trek, we stayed at Pondok Guru Bakti Cottage in Senaru, with beautiful views of Mt Rinjani.
Prior to getting picked up, I made the foolish mistake of googling Mt. Rinjani – probably not the best thing to do before you climb an active volcano – and I was even more freaked out given that Volcan del Fuego in Guatemala had just erupted. Anyway, in case anyone is interested, Mt. Rinjani is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, and in September 2016 there was a moderate eruption that temporarily disturbed air travel. If you want to keep your sanity, don’t go googling beyond the information I’ve just given you (no, no one died or was injured in that eruption or anything terrible like that) – googling volcanic eruptions before climbing a volcano is like checking WebMD for your symptoms – just don’t.
If you couldn’t tell, I was a bit paranoid beginning our climb, but I threw caution to the wind and figured YOLO, and carried on.
Which length of trek should you choose?
The night before our trek I was laying in bed texting one of my friends back home who had also climbed Mt. Rinjani. I couldn’t believe she kept trying to convince me not to do the 3 day/ 2 night trek. Was she crazy? I assumed that the longer the trek, the more time you had to reach the summit, so it would be an easier hike. I was soon to learn why she advised me to do the 2 day/ 1 night trek – and in the end we decided to cut our trek short by a day – but I’ll get to that later!
So here’s the scoop – when you trek Mt Rinjani, you’ll likely start from Sembalun (even if you are lodging in Senaru). From there, you’ll climb to the crater lake of Rinjani which takes approximately 6 hours, depending on your speed. If you decide to summit the next morning, you’ll hike around 5 hours to the summit and back, then you’ll hike about another 5-6 hours to get to your next camping spot. This was our original plan.
Choose the length you think is best for you, just be aware that a longer trek doesn’t mean that you have more time to reach the summit.
Trekking Mt. Rinjani: Day 1
We were picked up from our hotel in Senaru after a filling breakfast of pancakes and coffee, and Jou Trekking took us to Sembalun to sign into the Mt. Rinjani National Park registry, and begin our hike.
The start of trekking Mt Rinjani trek is relatively easy, except for the heat. You’ll walk through meadowlands and hear the gentle ringing of cowbells from the cattle grazing in the fields around you – it really is quite scenic. You’ll probably start your trek around 8:30 or 9, and continue roughly until 11, where you’ll stop at POS 2 for lunch. This is where it really starts to matter which tour company you’ve chosen, and the point at which we were really happy with Jou Trekking. We had a huge, delicious, full lunch of chicken curry complete with drinks, and freshly cut fruit, all prepared by our porters. Our Rinjani trekking package was so well organized with all of this delicious food.
A side note on the Mt. Rinjani porters – these guys are absolutely incredible. They carry ALL of your supplies up the mountain for you and cook all of your meals. The supplies are carried in baskets slung over their shoulders and connected with bamboo. They do all of this in flip flops no less! And in very, very hot and humid weather. Please be sure to give a generous tip to them at the end of your trip!
After lunch is when the real hike sets in, and where it becomes more difficult. You’ll start climbing up a series of seven hills that lead to the crater lake. This is a fairly tough climb – not so much because of how steep it is (and it is fairly steep), but because of how HOT it is. Make sure you drink plenty of water along the way and definitely wear sunblock. Don’t try to rush your climb up the mountain either and lose all of your energy in the beginning. Slow and steady wins the race on this one. Lucky for us, Jou Trekking makes sure they bring plenty of water for you, and plenty of snack bars to keep you energized throughout the trip. 2-3 liters of water per day is the norm for a hike like Rinjani – and thankfully we didn’t really need to worry about carrying all of those bottles since Jou Trekking thankfully had us covered!
The trekking Mt Rinjani is super dusty, so you should expect to be covered in sweat and dust by the time you reach the crater lake, but boy, the crater lake will be a sight for sore eyes. Once you reach the crater, Jou Trekking will find the perfect spot to set up camp for the night and before you know it, your tent will be all set up for you. It is really incredible to see how hard the porters work to set everything up and cook you dinner. Even before our dinner, the porters made us fried bananas with powdered sugar and chocolate syrup – it was almost more than we could eat! Needless to say, we were well fed with Jou Trekking.
After a long day of trekking Mt Rinjani you’ll be able to soak in the beautiful views, take photos and appreciate all of your hard work – they even brought beer along for us! Unfortunately at that point I felt like all I could drink was water, so I didn’t indulge in a beer, but Jou Trekking has them if you feel tempted!
As soon as the sun starts to set it gets fairly chilly at the crater lake – it can reach 4-5 degrees celsius there – so you’ll definitely want to make sure you’ve packed some warm clothing. Once darkness sets in the view of the stars is incredible on top of Mt. Rinjani – you’ll have spectacular views of the milky way and night sky since there is very little light pollution there! We took some time to admire the stars but went to bed fairly early (probably around 8), so we could get up and summit the next morning at 2:30.
By the way, for all of you who are wondering about the practical side of trekking Mt Rinjani, the porters set up a “toilet” tent when you reach base camp. The toilet tent is essentially a hole in the ground that is tented off to provide you a bit of privacy while you do your business 😉
Mt Rinjani Trek Day 2
That night I could barely sleep. Maybe it was the anticipation of knowing I was meant to summit just a few hours later, or maybe it was because I was sleeping on a (very) active volcano… I was just feeling nervous. I should have known better at that point.
Before starting to trekking Rinjani I had read several other accounts from other travel bloggers where people mentioned not to feel bad about not reaching the summit – I didn’t really take this seriously, and assumed I would definitely reach the summit, but it would indeed go otherwise.
Our guide Dede came to us to wake us at 2:30am and the porters had already been busily preparing our first meal of the day for us to prep us for our ascension. It is truly amazing how hard these guys work and how many times per week they do this!
We had made it up to basecamp with a fairly quick pace the day before, so Dede wasn’t especially worried about us making it up to the summit in time for sunrise, so we took a bit of extra time before heading out.
And that’s when it started. If I can give you one huge piece of advice, it is to make sure you have a headlamp with you when you trek Mount Rinjani. I didn’t. I had the flashlight on my cellphone which seems like it could be OK in a pinch, but when you need your hands to be free so you can climb up things, it really isn’t handy at all. My panic started setting in. I didn’t expect this at all – in fact I figured I’d have no problem summiting – we’d made it up so quickly the day before and my legs didn’t even feel tired from the 9km up the mountain.
We got about 30 minutes into it and I had to turn back. I was so scared. I felt like I couldn’t see anything and had no idea where the edge of the volcano was. It was slippery and dark and I just couldn’t see where to go. It pains me to say that we didn’t summit because I got too scared – but that’s the truth.
Looking back on that trip, I had so much more anxiety about things than I normally do. At the time, I couldn’t really figure out why I was so scared of something that would normally excite me. The truth was, I was having some big anxieties about moving back to California – we’d been living in the Netherlands for nearly 8 years and were about to embark on the biggest change in our lives (which is still a work in progress!). My anxieties about moving back had started to manifest themselves in strange ways while I was traveling – in a slightly scary, but fairly safe situation like this I felt totally out of control – what had happened to the fun me that loved to be adventurous?
Anyway, enough of the personal stuff. The truth is, if you don’t summit Mt. Rinjani, it really is no biggie – and our guide Dede from Jou Trekking made me feel so much better about it when he held my hand nearly the whole way back to our tent on base camp – how sweet is that? Many people don’t end up summiting Rinjani because of the heavy climb from the day before, or some people can’t even attempt it because it is too windy. So just take things as they come – you’re on an incredibly beautiful volcano after all, and this is your vacation! Take it easy and just enjoy the experience.
Once we returned back to our tent, we went back to sleep until the sun rose (and the porters made us yet another meal!), and made a new action plan – we decided it would be way too hot to try to summit now, but we would at least go up an hour to the viewpoint (the first stop on the way to the summit), where you still get the views of Mt. Agung on neighboring Bali and the Gili Islands. Dede assured us it was pretty much the same view that we would get from the summit, just without the view of the other crater lake.
So we started the slog back up to the view point, which took about an hour, and he was right – it was an incredible view. Just like any other blog will tell you, the trekking Rinjani is 2 steps forward and 1 step back. You are basically climbing through loose volcanic ash, so it is incredibly slippery and steep at the same time.
Although we didn’t summit Mt. Rinjani, I still felt so good about the experience and it was one of the highlights of our trip. Seeing our base camp below us in the clouds was incredible. The views of Mt. Agung, the crater lake, and the smoking caldera were all incredible. By the time you reach the crater lake viewpoint, you will have already climbed well over 10,000 feet (3048 meters), so just getting up that high is an accomplishment in itself! It really is a must do in Lombok if you’re physically able to do it.
Like I mentioned at the beginning, we had planned on the 3 day/2 night trek, but after this, we decided to cut our time short. We were headed south to Kuta Lombok for a week of surfing the day after our Rinjani trek was meant to end, and we decided that we were perhaps a little too ambitious in our plans to hike 6-8 hours for 3 days in a row before surfing for 6 days. So instead, we headed back down the mountain. Just coming down from the crater viewpoint (and especially the summit I’m sure), you’ll basically ski down. I know that sounds crazy, but you can basically just slide you way all the way down the mountain until you get to basecamp, just like you’re skiing. And you will be dusty. Very, very dusty.
I should probably mention here how sore you might be after the climb. For me, the climb down was a lot harder on my body than the climb up. There are two times in my life when I’ve had a hard time walking down the stairs or sitting down – literally to the point I had to just fall back on something to sit down! : The first time was when we ran the New York Marathon. The second time was after trekking Mount Rinjani for two days. So prepare to be sore!
One more word of warning – there are a ton of monkeys at basecamp on Mount Rinjani, so watch out for them and make sure they stay away from your food! Don’t risk getting bitten by one of these naughty monkeys.
Overview of Jou Trekking
We were so happy to chose to trek Mt Rinjani with Jou Trekking. When we started planning it we really didn’t know what to expect or which company to go with – there are so many to choose from! All we knew was that we wanted to trust whoever we climbed with, and to make sure that we would have enough food along the way. If you browse TripAdvisor reviews of all the companies, you will come across some horror stories of people not having enough food on the trip.
To our surprise, we were the only people climbing with our guide, and Jou Trekking plans every trip this way. You’ll only be climbing with the people you book the trip with, so you won’t be hiking with any strangers (although you’ll definitely meet people along the way from other companies when you stop for lunch or a water break). This made the trip really personal and also gave us a chance to chat up our guide Dede and learn all about his life in Senaru, what it takes to be a guide to help people trek Mount Rinjani, and his way of life in general, which I loved. Getting a chance to connect with local people is always the best way to understand a place, and we had a great chance to do this while we spent 12 hours hiking with him!
Jou Trekking is known to be one of the more luxurious trekking companies. We honestly didn’t know this when we booked, we just thought Jou Trekking looked like a good option. They bring up SO much food – almost more than you can possibly eat! We were constantly stuffed, not to mention hydrated, which made the experience so much better.
On top of that, Jou Trekking brought along super comfy sleeping pads, warm sleeping bags, and even pillows for us to use. The whole experience was very well thought through and organized from start to finish, and we really felt that we were in good hands with Dede and our porters.
At the time we booked with Jou Trekking to trek Mt Rinjani, the cost was $270 per person for the 3 day/2 night package. Be sure to check his website for up-to-date rates.
In short, if you are looking to add some action to your trip to Indonesia (or just Bali), be sure to climb Mount Rinjani, and book it with Jou Trekking – I can’t recommend this experience enough!
When can you trek Mount Rinjani?
Mount Rinjani is typically closed for hiking during Lombok’s rainy season, which lasts from the beginning of January until the end of March.
Who should trek Mt Rinjani?
Anyone who is in fairly good physical condition can trek Mount Rinjani. The Mount Rinjani National Park office has a special note to anyone with heart or any other serious medical conditions strictly advising them not to trek Rinjani. We didn’t do any special training before climbing, but were in fairly good shape. Just to give an idea of that, I am normally a runner, but had taken a little running sabbatical for a few months before trekking Rinjani since I was moving and traveling (I normally ran about 24km per week).
After getting little cardio in for a few months, trekking Rinjani was still no problem for me. But, if you know you get easily winded after taking the stairs or going on a short jog, you might want to train a bit for Rinjani since it is a pretty intense climb in the heat.
What to pack for Mount Rinjani
If you pick a great Mt Rinjani tour like Jou Trekking, you won’t need to worry about packing too much, but there are some essentials, including one that I unfortunately forgot: a headlamp!
- A good headlamp
- A sturdy pair of hiking boots
- A down jacket for when it gets cold at night
- 50+ sunblock
- A hat to keep the sun off your face and the top of your head
- Baby wipes!! You will get insanely dusty and if you’re like me, you’ll want to try to get some of that off before climbing into a sleeping bag
- A day pack if you don’t plan to pack much, or even better, a good backpacking pack
Looking for more great things to do in Indonesia? Check out these posts:
- The Guide to Nusa Lembongan
- What to do on Gili T
- How to have an amazing time in Gili Air
- The one week Bali itinerary
- Ubud Bali: Your Ultimate Guide
- Yoga barn: where to practice yoga in Ubud
- The no-BS guide to Uluwatu, Bali
- What to do and where to stay in Canggu Bali
Did this post help you plan your Mt Rinjani trek? Let me know in the comments below!
Gabby is a native (Northern) Californian who spent the majority of her 20’s living the expat life in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, exploring Europe and beyond. 27 countries later, she’s relocated back to her home base in California where she explores her passions for the travel and the outdoors.