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.
1. Aim for the summit but don’t feel bad if you don’t make it
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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!
Do you have any other tips for trekking Rinjani or mountain hiking in general?
Further reading on Planet Bell:
Further reading from around the web: