Trekking Rinjani Tips and Advice

Trekking Rinjani

A little over a year ago I decided to torture myself on a three-day trek up Mount Rinjani in Indonesia. Since writing  about the trek, those posts have become among the most popular on this blog. It seems there are a lot of people searching the internets about climbing the mountain. As a public service announcement, here are some tips for anyone interested in following in my footsteps.

Rinjani Trekking Tips

1. Aim for the summit but don’t feel bad if you don’t make it

Sunrise over Mount Rinjani

The summit of Mt. Rinjani from Gili Air

Due to extreme winds, we didn’t even try for the summit. Only a few people in our group were able to get all the way to the top. If you can’t make it, don’t feel bad. The trek is stunning and worthwhile nonetheless. However, mentally prepare to go all the way to the top. The view from the top at sunrise, with the volcano casting a shadow over the land, is unreal. Here is a link to blog post of someone who made it to the top.

2. Bring a balaclava, gloves and stocking cap

I get it. It feels totally strange to pack a pair of gloves and wool cap next to your swimsuit and snorkel as you prepare to visit the tropical paradise of Indonesia. Rising up from all those beaches are towering volcanoes and you will want to climb them.

Nights are very cold on Rinjani. There is nothing worse than being cold while trying to sleep or suffering hypothermia on the 2am trek to the summit.

3. Bring several pairs of socks, change them twice a day

Fresh socks are invigorating. Taking off your shoes and changing socks mid-day each day will let your feet dry out and give you new life each time.

4. Carry a light camera and lens

Sunset from camp on Mount Rinjani

Sunset from camp on Mount Rinjani

You really don’t need your big guns on the trek. Most of the photos you will want will be wide-angle shots of scenery. I carried my 10-20mm, a small 50mm and a DSLR. If you brought a zoom lens, leave it in the hostel and save it for those Komodo dragons.

5. Do a pre-game trek to Tiu Kelep and Sendang Gile Waterfalls

Indonesia waterfall

Tiu Kelap Falls

We arrived in Senaru a day early and did a trek to a pair of stunning waterfalls. It was a great way to not only see something seemingly out of Jurassic Park, but also a way to stretch our legs and get used to the hiking and altitude. I’d recommend hiring a guide to get you to Tiu Kelep as it can be a little confusing and requires crossing a river a few times.

6. Go with John’s

We went with John’s trekking service and I’d highly recommend it. He has a very clean and comfortable guest house in Senaru to stay in the night before, the guides and porters were very professional, the food was excellent and plentiful and they packed out all the trash. We had plenty of snacks and water on the trip too, which is a must. You will be burning calories!

7. Bring a Bintang

Buy a couple of beers before the trek (and have the porters carry them). Seriously, at the end of the day you will need the carbs and the painkilling quality of the alcohol. Think of it as a medicinal beer. I did not have a beer but some more thoughtful trekkers did. Don’t be like me. You will be sad.

8. Make sure your guide will be packing out all your trash

As I mentioned, our guides packed out our trash, but make sure this happens. There is a disturbing amount of garbage on the trail.

9. Bring toilet paper and a plastic bag to put it in

Gross, I know. There aren’t any real toilets on the trail. You will have to do as bears do and go in the woods. Bring plastic bags to pack out your paper and bury your poo.

10. Bring sandals to wear at the camp (and during middle of the night pee breaks)

11. Do some pre-trek training

I know, I know. You are on the beach in Bali and the last thing you want to do is exercise before your trek. At the very least, do some stretching everyday, but a daily run on the beach will help you get in shape. Trust me, you will need any bit of conditioning you can get.

Even better, warm up by climbing Ijen or Bromo, two other fascinating active volcanoes.

12. Make sure your camera batteries are full

Obviously, you can’t charge them on the mountain. I didn’t take a lot of shots as I was too busy sweating, cussing and suffering, but the cold air can suck the life out of your batteries, so it is always a good idea to have them all fully charged.

13. Get yourself to a beach after the trek, stay there for 3 days

Mt. Rinjani from Gili Air

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

We made our way to Gili Air after the trek and spent three days recovering on the peaceful island. Whether you go to the Gilis or stay on Lombok, you will need some time to recover. Massages are cheap. Budget to get one or three.

14. Wear hiking boots

I recommend sturdy hiking boots with ankle support. There are patches of loose rocks, roots, and uneven trail. The last thing you want is a sprained ankle.

15. Wear sunscreen and lots of it

The combination of high altitude and tropical sun is a recipe for a nasty sunburn. Apply sunscreen in the morning and again throughout the day, unless you like wrinkles and leathery skin.

16. Don’t forget your swimsuit

Hot Springs on Rinjani

Hot Springs near the crater lake on Rinjani

There are life-restoring hot springs to soak in halfway through the trek and a swim in the cool water of the lake is a must.

17. Don’t do it! 

Almost everyone who has attempted the trek says it is the hardest things they’ve ever done in their lives! Stay on that paradisiacal beach! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Rinjani Trekking Map


 

Do you have any other tips for trekking Rinjani or mountain hiking in general?

 

Further reading on Planet Bell:

  1. Trekking Rinjani Day 1: A Day of Suffering
  2. Trekking Rinjani Day 2: Turned Back by the Elements
  3. Trekking Rinjani Day 3: Beaches and Bintang

Further reading from around the web:

  1. Trekking Rinjani – An unforgettable Experience – Be My Travel Muse
  2. Trekking Mount Rinjani – A Beautiful Beginning – Alex in Wanderland
  3. The Unforgiving Rinjani – What an Amazing World

51 Comments on “Trekking Rinjani Tips and Advice

  1. I remember when you did (or first posted about) this trek. I think it was one of the first posts I read of yours. Or maybe just memorable because of the drawings? Sometimes I think I’d like to try something like climb this volcano. But then, something in me says: wait a minute, bro. You can stay right there on the beach with COLD Bintang, or you can drink a warm one at the top and wish you were sitting here on the beach. The beach and a cold one always seems to win. I like the photo of the guy riding a bike on the beach a lot!!
    In a recent post you mentioned buying a small Fujifilm camera, I wondered if it was the X-70?

    • I love the mountains and I”m always game for climbing them, but as I get older I need more time on the beach afterwards to recover. Better yet, when we were in Greece I could deposit my wife on the beach and I could take a short hike and be back and get a cold beer.

      Next time you go to Bali, are you going to do the Rinjani Trek?

      I actually bought the Fuji X100t. It is a great camera, but I suppose all those mirrorless Fujis are. I’ve been thinking very seriously about selling off all my canon lenses and just going with the small Fujis.

      • I’m not sure I’ll be doing something like climbing Rinjani…touted as “one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do.” I will take a photo of it from Gili Air, and reread your post and laugh at your stick-figure trek of the place.
        I don’t know which is better, Fuji mirrorless or Sony, but I have a Sony RX-10, built in 24-200mm lens at 2.8 all the way through. It’s not a small camera. I do not want to carry lenses again. Use to, along with a tripod…everywhere I traveled. Now, if I could find a camera with a fixed lens with 20mp and a full-frame sensor, I’d pay any amount they asked

      • I hear you about the lenses and stuff. I don’t carry as much as I used to, but in Alaska for example I really needed that 300mm lens. I guess I could have walked up to the bears with my 28mm mirrorless, but that may not have been so wise.

      • There is always a trade off…I WANT that 400mm lens capability, but don’t want to carry that 400mm lens. My camera goes to 200–trade off.

  2. Haha, I love the visualisation of “your thoughts on the trek”! I remember that I always drew a smiling sun 😉

    Love the pictures! Stunning scenes you’ve captured well!

    Hope to go on my first trek in Scotland this year. Who knows what’s next 🙂

    I’ll remember not to forget the beer 😉

    Kind regards,
    Tieme

    • Scotland should be a great place to go trekking. I imagine the scenery is amazing and it shouldn’t be too hot there. The sun may not be so evil!

      A good Scottish beer is almost like a meal so definitely don’t forget it!

      • I think it is indeed and look forward to it 🙂

        The scenery is amazing, probably head to Skye. Rough coastlines and green hills 🙂 About the sun: that is a thingy, I hope there is enough of it in rainy Scotland 😉

        And for the beer: absolutely 🙂

        Happy Friday!
        Tieme

  3. I was the pansy for not climbing Rinjani. I relaxed at the resort in Lombok while two of my friends climbed Rinjani. 2 days later, they came back to the resort – they stanked; they could hardly walk and went for massages for 2 days in a row. We went to Gili T together – they were still very tired from the mountain hike that they chose to sleep in the cabana by the beach while I went out to the water, swimming by myself 🙂 While we were drinking our Bintang, one of them said, man, I underestimated that mountain!

    • Thanks for the info, Kat. “Man, I underestimated that mountain!” had been said so many times.

      Were you sad that you didn’t go or happy you chose the beach?

      • I was happy to choose the beach 🙂 One of the climbers tried to persuade me to join them for the hike even while we were boarding the plane in KL! He asked, “are you sure, you don’t want to join us for Rinjani?” 🙂

  4. It is really cool! I’m Indonesian but I’ve never been there😑

    Go to Bali for enjoying beach,It will be great in the Kuta Beach Bali😀😀

  5. Jeff, this is a great post: you show us the glory of trekking Rinjani and also give guidance on how to hike a mountain…which is great for Mt. Rinjani and almost all other mountains people get out to climb. And this post makes me want to book a trip to Indonesia this spring. Cheers ~

    • Thank you. I was a bit surprised at how unprepared some people were. I saw people hiking in sandals and tank tops! If you haven’t been yet, there are several volcanoes worth hiking in Indonesia. It is a great country!

      • I’ve not checked out Indonesia much at all (a shame, as in a sense it is right next door). Hope to have some chances in the near future ~ cheers.

      • Indonesia is my favorite country in southeast Asia (but I haven’t been to Burma). If you like nature, you can’t beat it. We climbed four volcanoes with unique character (Bromo, Ijen, Rinjani and Kelimutu), visited Komodo National Park and did some incredible snorkeling. The people are wonderful as well. You should go.

      • This is a tremendous introduction to Indonesia ~ and I am a bit surprised by my total lack of thought of traveling there…now much make a plan, hopefully some time this year. Thanks Jeff.

  6. No.12… I decided to bring two fully-charged batteries, just in case. You know, Rinjani was really tough, but strangely sometimes I do miss the hike.

    • It is worth the effort for sure. Not only are the views amazing, but you get to test yourself and see what you are made of 🙂 Your country has so many mountains. Ijen, Bromo and Kelimutu were just as cool in their own way, but Rinjani was my favorite just because it was so massive and challenging.

  7. I can’t imagine I’ll ever climb Rinjani, but I can dream about it reading your, and others’ posts. I also like the photo of the cyclist on the beach. And I want BF’s camera!
    Alison

    • Sometimes it is easier to live vicariously through other people, especially when it comes to scaling a 10,000 ft volcano!

  8. A great roundup, Jeff. I have to stress the importance of no. 11 – I only just made it to the summit because several months of dragon boat training and gym work whipped me into shape. I agree that the Rinjani trek was one of the hardest things I’d ever done but also one of the most rewarding. Did you encounter an alpha male monkey who wanted to steal your snack food/lunch on Day 1? The porters had to bang their pots and pans to scare him off. As for no. 16, it sounds like I missed out by not going to the hot springs or taking a dip in the lake!

    • Thanks for the insight, James.

      Yes, No 11, being in shape is important. For my part, hiking in Alaska all summer helped me be in shape mentally and physically.

      You didn’t do the hot springs? You should go back and demand a refund from your guide!

      We did not encounter any overly aggressive monkeys, but that is something I ought to add in. Being careless with food or shiny objects could be very bad.

  9. Jeff, thanks for writing this! Partly because I know this post will help a lot of those trekkers to get detailed info, and this promotes my country to your readers. I dont think any of my government’s website explain as detail as yours regarding to this. Thanks again! Come visit Jakarta in the future if you can.

    • Thank you Syifa. I love Indonesia – it ranks as one of my top 3 countries. I’m sure I’ll be in Jakarta in the near future so we’ll look you up.

  10. I’ve never been in the neighbourhood, but if I ever am, I will remember your advice.

    The first time I ever hiked – yes, literally – it was up Kilimanjaro. It was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done in a long list of hard things I’ve done. On the other hand, I became addicted to hiking and Rinjani sounds like something I would want to try.

    The one thing I would absolutely reinforce from your list is the sunscreen. When you reach the upper altitudes and it’s freaking cold, sunburn isn’t something that comes top of mind, however on our summit climb, I forgot about my lips. That evening they were so swollen I looked like a Botox job gone very wrong. I talked funny for 2 days.

    • Your first hike was Kilimanjaro? That is awesome. How many days is that one?

      Great advice on the sunscreen and lip protection. I remember my sister burning her lips snow skiing and it was the same way – swollen lips for a few days. Not good at all. Thanks for sharing.

      • We were 7 days on Kili – 5 days up and 2 days down. I could really relate to your comments about (1) the beer, (2) the feeling of being extraordinarily dirty!

      • Kilimanjaro is like doing two Rinjanis and much higher altitude. I am impressed that you made it for a novice hiker. Even though it is torture and often times uncomfortable, it is great fun at the same time.

      • hahaha – no one is more surprised than me. I wanted to abort MANT times, but I’ve learned that the guides will lie and connive shamelessly to keep you going long after your brain has decided to stop.
        I’ve learned to love hiking. The worst days provide the deepest sense of accomplishment … not to mention bragging rights 😉

  11. I just got back from Mt Rinjani. Not only my legs ached, my feet were swollen for a few days. Took 4-5 days to recover. I went through the same “The peak doesn’t look that high.” “Why are there no trees?!” “Why am I doing this?!” thought process too. Hahahah! I didn’t go to the summit. Stayed up almost the whole night at the crater rim for night sky photography and had the most satisfying Milky Way experience!

    • Four to five days to recover seems about right. I am glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing your experience. Will you do it again someday?

  12. > Hello Jeff,
    because of your recommendation to go with John’s trekking service we booked it for a Rinjani trek on deluxe service (3 days, 2 nights – summit, lake, hot spring).
    > Unfortunately we were not pleased and so we do not share your positive impression of John’s service. Therefore we warn you to select this company for doing the trek!!!
    >
    > Here you get an overview about our point of criticism:
    >
    > 1. be careful with the following notes on John’s homepage (http://www.rinjanimaster.com/hot3D2N.html):
    >
    > “a) 30% for single supplement surcharge ( to joint the group )
    > b) 30% down payment by pay pal (!)
    > c) Add 3% payment by cards)”
    >
    > When I called him (John himself) to book the trip, he confirmed me the 30% discount when paying by paypal. When we arrived at the Senaru Village and wanted to pay, unfortunately nobody of the stuff was aware about this discount, so we had to pay the full price.
    >
    > 2. Furthermore we complain the food because it was absolutely not an energy-rich nutrition for such a hard hike as the Rinjani trek. We ate almost just toast and pancakes.
    > Especially people with food intolerance to wheat, as we are, are affected and get gastrointestinal problems.
    >
    > 3. There is a lot of trash all the way up and especially on the crater rim. We did *not* see our porters at any time collecting their/our waste after cooking. Therefore we can not confirm that John’s stand out for preservation of nature. We just could not locate a difference to all other providers.
    >
    > 4. At our first day we left at Senaru Village to late. According to our guide this had the consequence that we arrived at least one hour to late at the crater rim so that the porters could not find an optimal place for the tent anymore. During our trek there where a lot of hiking groups around.
    > The same lack of time management occured at the second day in the morning. We started as the second last group to the summit, therefore we did not arrive before sunrise.
    > As John’s company praises its many years of experience of Rinjani trekking such a temporal miscalculation should not happen.
    >
    > 5. Our last point of criticism refers to the driver with the very chaotic and rapid driving style, who took us from Senaru Village to Sembalun Lawang. It felt like roller coaster; we were sick and dizzy. That was not the best starting condition for such a challenging hike. This applies also for the ride back.

    > Finally we summarize that John’s trekking service is to expensive. The price-performance ratio does not match well.

    Despite the above described pain-points our young guide was nice and courteous.

    • Laura,

      That totally bums me out that you had a bad experience! I guess that businesses do change over time, especially with a place with seasonal workers, so maybe this year’s staff isn’t as good as others. I am most disappointed to hear about them not taking trash with them.

      We had mountains of food, with pasta, rice, meat, chicken, potatoes, and plenty of cookies and nuts between meals. I’m really surprised to hear that. We trekked in a low season and so there weren’t too many hikers.

      I’ll put a note on my post to see your comment. Thanks for your input.

      Jeff

  13. Dear Laura, a sharing trekking group rates are quoted without deviation, which means most of trek operators provide pick up return transfers for the group in seat-coach style. If solo traveler requires for a private transport, additional charges may apply as well as a room to stay, should share with other participant in the group. Economic fluctuation is mostly the main cause: a small economic issue can easily interfere local price of commodities and workers tariff.

    Hi Jeff, I really love this blog; you have great and inspired posts.

  14. Hi Jeff, really great post and sad you didn’t make it to the top! We also didn’t make it to the summit, but not due to weather (it was perfect) but mostly because of my lack of fitness which was so disappointing!

    We sat on the ridge and watched sunrise from there which was still an incredible experience! Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Even not going to the top it is still an incredible experience. Maybe we’ll go again and get all the way to the summit! Thank you for commenting!

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