Mt. Rinjani from Gili Air

Trekking Rinjani Day 3: Beaches and Bintang


Rinjani Trekking Map

WHACK! WHACK! The wind was blowing so hard that our tent nearly blew away and the poles were flexing so far that they were whacking me in the face. This awoke me from my slumber, but I merely rolled over so the poles would strike the side of my head and not my face. These are the actions of an exhausted person, made apathetic from two days of trekking.

[Note: This is Part III of a 3-part story of our trek up Rinjani. To read Part 1 click here and Part 2 click here.]

Like the night before, during the night the wind picked up on the slopes of Mt. Rinjani and dirt and ash swirled all through our tent, but this time it was 10 times worse. After only a few minutes of the high winds, I wiped a finger across my face to realize I was already covered in a layer of dirt. I looked like a resident of Pompeii, circa 79 A.D.

Lynn, a Belgian girl who camped with us, actually had her tent blown away in the night. Her guide slept in the tent with her to help weigh it down. Convenient for him.

As I tried to sleep through the pole smacking and wind, I was unaware of one unsettling fact: two different forest fires were burning right outside our tents. My nose was stuffed up so I didn’t smell the smoke, but Kristi and Ellen woke up in the middle of the night after smelling smoke and asked our guide what we should do. He was unconcerned. Exhausted and really not that bothered about dying since it would spare us more hiking, the girls went back to sleep as imminent death burned all around us.

I woke up the next morning, brushed my teeth in the cold and noticed that trees and grass in the vicinity were charred black. I was happy that I didn’t know.

Rinjani Porters making dinner

Rinjani porters making dinner.

After breakfast, we started the most boring and satisfying leg of the hike. We hiked straight down the mountain, through tropical rainforest, down sandy slopes. I think all of us slipped and fell at least twice, but that was okay. We were moving downhill, and that was glorious.

Rinjani Guide

Our guide.

We encountered hikers who were on their way up the mountain, in the first hours of their three-day trek. They smelled of soap and shampoo and perfume and reeked of optimism. In a few hours they’d no doubt be a miasma of body odor, sunscreen, bug spray and suffering, their clothes saturated with sweat and that look of optimism on their face replaced with pain. BRUHAHAHAHAHA!!! I thought about their suffering and laughed maniacally.

We stopped at the park entrance and our porters prepared us one last ginormous lunch. Sarah was there, all clean and effervescent. She’d probably used 100 wet wipes again.

Down the mountain, we got a taxi and a boat over to Gili Air- a perfectly flat island ringed by beaches and surrounded by translucent water.

Part of the joy of travel is deprivation. I had never been so dirty before, in need of a shower so badly. I hadn’t used a toilet in three days (too much information) and really wanted a proper bed. In real life I’d never go three days without a shower while wearing the same filthy clothes. Two days, sure. But three? Never. Being back in civilization makes the every day things we take for granted so wonderfully luxurious.

I scrubbed away three days of sunscreen, sweat, volcanic ash, dirt, sand and suffering. My hair was a matted mangy mess, resembling a stray dog in the slums of Calcutta. I had to wash my hair three times to return it to its former glory.

Clean, we went to a Perfect Tropical Beach, ordered a large beer and sipped it in the shadow of Rinjani. Looking up at the towering volcano, a sense of pride warmed my body. “I conquered that #$%^ of a mountain,” I thought. “And I’ll never do it again.”

Rinjani trekknig companions

Our Rinjani Trekking companions

Gili Air

Beer and beach, the perfect antidote for a Rinjani Trek.

Mt. Rinjani from Gili Air

Mount Rinjani hides in the clouds as viewed from Gili Air.

Sunrise over Mount Rinjani

Sunrise over Mount Rinjani from Gili Air.

Trekking Rinjani Day 1: A Day of Suffering

Trekking Rinjani Day 2: Turned Back by the Elements

Trekking Rinjani Tips and Advice

Have you trekked Rinjani or done other multi-day hikes? 

If so, why do you torture yourself?


Posted by

Currently living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I travel, write, take photos, and stalk street cats. ~

34 thoughts on “Trekking Rinjani Day 3: Beaches and Bintang”

  1. Adventures in Kevin's World says:

    A couple of thoughts.
    1. If you had never gone 3 days without a shower you need to go backpacking more. Builds character. Or something.
    2. You and Kristi are wearing matching outfits in one of the photos. Whodathunk.
    3. I think I’ll skip that particular trip, thanks for taking one for the team!

      • Adventures in Kevin's World says:

        Ah but what’s storytelling without a little suffering? Made for a good read.

  2. Now that I’ve read your story of Rinjani, and James’ at Plus Ultra, and Bama’s at What an Amazing World, I’d both love to do it, and know I won’t. Too much suffering 🙂
    Climbing Mt Batur in the pitch black of night for sunrise was enough for me.
    Great story telling Jeff. Between the 3 of you I think I’ve already been there 🙂

    • Thanks Alison. I read their accounts and still went! Their accounts of Indonesia were inspirational and helped me plan. I met up with James while in Hong Kong so when I get caught up on Indonesia I’ll write about that.

  3. Wow, we never had to worry about wildfires licking at the door/flaps to our tents… I’m really thankful that you and Kristi (and the rest of your hiking group) were unharmed. You know what, I had the exact same thought about the new hikers coming up the mountain: “Do these people know what they are getting themselves into?”

    Personally I hated going down on the final day – my feet were painful and the roots of the jungle never seemed to end!

    • The down part was mentally taxing as well as hard on the knees and thighs. I had to make sure and pay attention and not trip over a root.

      I am happy that (as far as we know) that no one was harmed, especially on day two. That was a major blaze.

  4. James was really good at going up — it was hard for me to keep up with him. But on the way down I walked so fast, too fast for James to follow. Probably it was the gravity, but I think the feeling that the 3-day torture was almost over fueled my spirit to get to the finish line as fast as I could. 🙂

    However the wildfires sound really serious when you were there. I’m glad you and Kristi were safe so you could head to the Gilis for that much-needed respite right after completing the trekking.

    • Yes, the fires were pretty intense, especially on day 2. I am happy that no one was hurt.

      Going down I really wanted to be done with it too. I was fantasizing about the Gilis!

  5. I have done Canada’s West Coast Trail which was 6 days with no showers. It was my first big adventure and it was at age 40. I wanted to show myself that aging would not stop me from trying new things and discovering the world.
    Of course as mentioned from time to time any of my adventures pale in comparison to yours. 🙂

    • Sue,

      The west coast trail certainly doesn’t pale in comparison. Six days and 46 miles (75 km) is a legit hike. (Full Disclosure: I just googled the Pacific Coast Trail.) A lot of the adventures we do probably look more daring than they are 🙂

  6. Girl Gone Expat says: guys must have been exhausted to sleep through a forest fire:) Beer & beach – what a great reward! Looking back – was the hike worth it?

    • Absolutely. The hike was worth it even though we didn’t make it to the summit and the best views were obscured by smoke. It was still spectacular and fun. We probably had some of the worst weather and visibility conditions you can have, so I’d highly recommend it because under normal circumstances it is awesome.

  7. Still chuckling over the girls not being “that bothered about dying since it would spare us more hiking” 🙂 Great narration Jeff. Makes me wish I had the courage and fitness lvls to attempt it. But like Alison I shall settle for a virtual hike through your posts and James’ and Bama’s :-).

  8. Another, once in a lifetime adventure. Since I suffer from chronic pain syndrome, the only part of that I could have done was soak in the hot springs (perhaps the could lower me from a chopper) I might have skipped the shower, stripped and dove into the warm waters (beer in hand of course!)

    • Laura, maybe you could pay some strapping Indonesian men to carry you up there? I am partly surprised that we didn’t just jump in the water off the boat. Our clothes were so filthy they would have turned the water brown though.

  9. Lol… thought about their suffering and laughed maniacally, eh? Haha. We’ve done 4 days without shower and the most disgusting pit toilets ever (no water to flush… can you imagine?) for the Inca Trail. By the end, all I could think about was getting to the “hot springs” in Aquas Calientes… but the hot springs turned out to be lukewarm and smelled like urine. 😦 Gili Air seems like a much better reward! 😀

    • Hot springs that smelled like urine – nice. Gili Air was a great reward. The only problem was that the little Balinese girls at the massage place weren’t big enough to crush the knots and pain from my muscles. I needed a giant woman descended from Viking warriors with a name like Helga to massage me.

  10. Love the photos, especially the one of the guide in blue with red gloves…wondering if he was the one who sacrificed himself to sleep in the Belgian girl’s tent–a true hero. For future reference, if you haven’t been to Maui and the top of Haleakala, you can drive to the top, drink your espresso as the sun comes up, bicycle down. A much easier trip, but then what would you write about…well, there is still the beach, and all that home-grown brew they make there.

    • It was a different guide that had to make the great sacrifice, but I am sure our guide would have been a hero if called upon.

      It does make a better story walking up. We took motorbikes to the top of Kelimutu and walked down a few days later. I highly doubt I post about that. It just wasn’t that exciting. The Hawaii experience will make it into airline magazines though.

      • That’s the great thing about guides…they get paid to make those sacrifices. Yeah, walking makes a good story. But I bet you could make that trek on bikes into a great story. Biking is not not dangerous, you know. Some people would never ride one. When I was there, I rode in a car, but I’ve got a story about it (and the $5 hotel room and the old Aussie who got hoodwinked by a tour operator in OZ. I can’t write that story till I find someone to transfer my slides to digital. But thanks for reminding me of that story!

  11. After reading a few of these guides to Rinjani and i thought id just let you know that your great sense of humour and general happiness towards the terrible situation is quite calming! Many of the write ups just talk about how horredous it is and yours actually makes it sound achievable, cheers dude

  12. Hi Jeff, great sense of humor, especially the drawing! I love your writing! I found it as I was checking out Rinjani’s current erruption.
    Your stories make me, originally from Indonesia (used to lead new students in my campus climbing up many mountains) miss Indonesian mountains terribly. And sad because it sounds like it’s commercialized now. And the disappearing trees! It was all dense forest, before greed took over. One night when I was a kid, our car had to stop to allow tigress and cubs crossing the roads.
    Well I’m glad you made it, Jeff, and there are heaps more mountains in Indonesia to climb! Go sleep in beautiful edelweiss field under the morning sun (not hot at 3200 meters!). Go dance under the thousands equator stars, you can see millions more of them from a mountain top’s plateau! Of course, they all involve torture—and looking back, I wouldn’t allow my daughter to go to the dangerous places I went to 
    Now that you’ve conquered Rinjani, time to dive the breathtaking underwater of Wakatobi, Bunaken, Raja Ampat, etc.

    • Thank you for the comments. Indonesia is a great country and I can’t wait to return someday. We spent two months there and barely got started! I’ll keep those places you mentioned in mind. Thanks again for the comments.

  13. Pingback: Trekking Rinjani Tips and Advice | Planet Bell

  14. Always a Foreigner says:

    What a crazy journey you had. I loved the “thoughts” illustration. This was a fantastic read and I’m so happy you shared.

    • I am glad you enjoyed. I wanted to give an honest account of the hike for anyone thinking of going up the mountain. It is hard work, but worth it.

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