Hiking Mt. Rinjani: The Sweet Finish

This post continues from Part I and Part II.

“You mouthbreathed the other night. That makes you a mouthbreather,” my tent mate, Noodles, pointed out.

“Lay off, I’m congested… and you snore like crazy,” I snarled.

Another friend in our group pulled out his phone and hit the play button. The sound of throat and nasal tissue flopping together rattled out at a decibel that could startle a hibernating bear.

“My tent buddy snores too, I even got it on record,” he laughed.

After just twenty-four hours of trekking together, all polite barriers came down and the entire group resigned to being their sweaty, snoring, mouth-breathing selves. At this point, we didn’t care. We’d accomplished what we’d come to do – trekking to the summit of Mt. Rinjani, so were pretty content with just cruising from here on out.

We walked through the other side of the crater rim, bordering the lake and arrived at a prime camp spot away from the other trekkers with panoramic views of the lake. Mt Barujari, the miniature volcano inside of the lake erupted just three days after we slept here.


One thing I haven’t really mentioned but is obvious in pictures is the massive trash problem that pollutes the area surrounding Mt. Rinjani. Many tour companies dump their plastic alongside the trail, and there are areas where the sides of the trail are covered in not just consumer waste but actual human waste. Though I knew about this issue in general in Indonesia (and have talked about it at length), I was surprised at just how severe it was. Therefore, I only recommend Green Rinjani as the go-to trekking company because they’re mindful of leaving Mt. Rinjani better than they found it. If you go with another, hold them accountable for carrying out all waste.

We dragged our aching legs to the nearby hot springs for some much-needed heat therapy. Locals gathered in small pools of teal and opal. I peeled off my clothes and sunk into the hot, sulfur-laden spring – our first and only bath we’d have the entire trip. I felt immodest in my bikini and cloaked myself in the opaque water.

A few porters from another group hopped in with bars of soap, scrubbing themselves clean before continuing their trek to civilization. Their threadbare shorts hung off their hips like a loincloth.

“Jump off the rock with me,” Noodles pressured us. We shook our heads.

“No way! We’re like, a two-day hike from a hospital,” I replied.

He climbed onto the top of a rock and cannon balled into the hot spring. A handful of locals joined him.

Once night came, I squinted up to the ridge of the crater, looking for the glowing lights of hikers preparing to trek to Mt. Rinjani’s summit. Steam rose from the crater’s small volcano, masking most of the trail.

“Apparently, if you walk too close to the volcano, it gets too hot and you have to turn back,” I heard.

I closed my eyes and imagined heat waves hitting my body, walking forward until it seared my skin.

A cold chill blew through the campsite and the porters went under their tent. All eleven of them share just one shelter – a thick mat on the floor with just one A-shaped tarp covering them. They all huddle close together with hardly any blankets, snoring alongside one another and tolerating each other’s gas passing. Every once in a while, their tent would erupt in a fit of giggles.

“We do everything together,” Gus explained. “We sleep together, we eat together, we walk together – everything.”

Our yellow tents were lined along the lake. It was too chilly to sit outside, so five of us crawled into one tiny tent to talk nonsense and nosh on Oreos before tucking in for the night.

Sleep rarely comes easy for me, even in the best conditions. I have a knack for hearing sounds that aren’t there and obsess over the ones that are. A few months ago, I slept in a squeaky tent and became fixated on making the squeaking stop. I rubbed oil on the poles, partially took down the tent, stuffed toilet paper into my ears, and counted to 500. Nothing could stop the sleep-sabotage.

Empty sleep came easy for me this time, despite the sounds and rustling.

In the morning, we packed up and set off to the top of the crater. The entire hike so far had been a series of steep inclines followed by equally steep declines. Up, down, up, down. My body craved clean clothes and a flat path.


After a few hours, we made it to the crater rim and saw the turquoise lake from a new perspective. My aches and pains dissolved.

Thick clouds of fog rolled through the terrain, like a magician pulling a blanket over the earth.

Now you see it!

Now you don’t!

We passed through grasslands, steep bridges, and eventually made it to a lush rainforest. When it rained, we took shelter under a tarp and slurped down bowls of warm noodles and boiled eggs.

Despite carrying nearly four or five times the amount of weight we were, the porters sped down the trails with thin flip-flops for shoes.

“Sometimes, it’s easier if you run,” One porter said.

A single file line of porters ran down the trail, banking around the turns at full speed.

One by one, my trekking group followed them. We clung to our backpacks and jogged down, dodging rocks, roots, and other obstacles in our path. The porter was right – it was easier this way! One of my friends in the group, affectionally dubbed “Tumblin’ Terry” after he’d taken a few spills on the trail, loved this method and pretty much ran the rest of the way down back to the base.

Occasionally, we’d hear a large crash up ahead from one of the porters who’d lost his footing. Of course, teasing, laughing, and pointing followed.

We set up camp for our last night in a monkey-overrun rainforest and felt a pang of sadness. After three days of hiking nonstop together, it’d feel strange to go back to flat paths, warm showers, and privacy.

And toilets that are more just a shallow hole.

The next day, Gus and I walked together and relived our trek to the summit. I think he felt that time was running out for him to squeeze in the last few insults, because he turned his insult-game on full blast once we caught up to the rest of the group.

“I think they look 25, but because of your wrinkles – you’re more like 35,” He smirked.

My group cracked up in laughter, and I felt my face flush red.

I put my hand up to stop him.

“Two words.”

I raised one finger, “Trip.”

I raised the second finger, “Advisor.”

A few minutes later, away from the pack, Gus shuffled up to me and gave me a quick slug. “You know I’m kidding with you, right?”

Right.

(I gave him five stars in the end.)

We crossed the finish line of the trail where local market stalls selling fresh food and cold drinks had been set up. It was surreal to be back in a place where just a dollar could buy you comfort and convenience. To be fair, the entire experience was not a hardcore one when it comes to trekking – skilled porters and a motivating crew make all the difference, but it was still a challenge.

I recommend that you trek Mt. Rinjani if you ever make your way to Indonesia. However, be very careful on who you trek with, and realize that you get what you pay for when it comes to guides and porters.

Despite the sweat, the aching legs, and the lighthearted assaults on my appearance, it’s still one of the best things I’ve ever done.

You canread a more practical guide on hiking Mt. Rinjani on Skyscanner Australia that tells you what to pack, when to go, and all the otheradvice I’ve saved for the audience over there. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to shoot over a question or five!

Read all about hiking Mt. Rinjani on beautiful Lombok, Indonesia, one of the most beautiful volcanoes in all of Asia. This is a firsthand account on the best trek in Indonesia.

Disclosure: I was offered a media rate from Green Rinjani. Had they not accepted my media proposal, I would have gladly paid full price as this is truly the only company I felt comfortable trekking with after researching nearly all others. As always, all opinions are my own.

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41 Responses

  1. Suruchi says:

    You have explained every nick so nicely and I loved the way you were so sporty to handle everything so boldly. Beautiful pictures and so is Mount Rinjani. This trek is for sure going to be added to my to do bucket list.

  2. Hannah says:

    Sounds like an amazing experience. Glad you didn’t tumble off the edge at any point ? Jokes aside you must be proud- huge achievement!

  3. Now that is a lovely sight! Good to know that you’ve accomplished such feat, Chantae! I’ve been to Indonesia, but haven’t done any hiking there. Would love to experience Mt. Rinjani myself.
    Trisha Velarmino recently posted…A day in the surf trip in Midigama, Sri Lanka: eat, sleep, surf, repeatMy Profile

  4. Ariane says:

    Yeayyyy!!!! Mt Rinjani!!! I did that tek in June and had massive muscle soreness afterwards! The worst part for me was not getting to the top of 3726m but getting don again… a nightmare!

  5. Raghav says:

    Awesome adventure and thanks for such a fun post with all the dialogue and conversations between the hikers. Mt. Rinjani looks great and i’m sure even after all the tiring hike up and the run – don’t think i would run – you will cherish this adventure. Sad to hear about the garbage issue. I hope people would be more careful about this and also the tour companies since this is their livelihood.

  6. Kisty Mea says:

    I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Lombok, it’s like paradise in Indonesia. Although I doubt I’ll be doing a hiking there, so thank you for sharing this.

  7. Tatum says:

    I love all things action sports and adventure too!! This whole trip looked like so much fun! Sad that humans feel the need to pollute this amazing earth, nut otherwise the view was incredible! I went to Bali but sadly didn’t get to do any hiking 🙁 I will be back for sure and this will be on my list!

  8. The sudden changes in the terrain, the blanket of thick clouds, that thrill of reaching a spectacular destination – i felt like i was travelling with you sans the hardships of the trek. Loved this post!!
    Vaisakhi Mishra recently posted…Lower Antelope Canyon – A MarvelMy Profile

  9. Milijana says:

    Wonderful views, photos and story. I have just added Mount Rinjani to my Indonesia bucket list! Thank you!

  10. Jen Joslin says:

    Loved reading this from start to finish. What an amazing experience! Thanks for sharing about Green Rinjani. What a shame about the waste left behind from other groups. It’s good to know they are looking out for the environment there. Definitely saving this post for when we travel in Indonesia!

    • Chantae says:

      Thanks Jen 😀 Yeah, it was a shame – I saw that they might be hosting a cleanup weekend this year so fingers crossed that works out well. Can’t wait to check and see what you’ve been up to too 😀

  11. I loved your post because there were so much detail and photos to support the detail. Felt like I was part of the group.

  12. Carol Colborn says:

    You’re a good storyteller! Plus an excellent photographer. Great post!

  13. What a great, personal account. You write so well. This looks tough but like a really special trip. I agree on the rubbish in Indonesia. It’s something they say they are working on and I really hope that get it under control.

  14. davide says:

    Great experience no?!?! You took wonderful pictures, not really lucky for the weather! I did it 2 years ago and Gunung Rinjani remain the most challenging climbing ever, even if I am in fit! The last 400 meters at 3 o Clock in the morning, freeze, windy… OMG a nightmare! When I went to the summit I just said: I MADE IT!! Wonderful story, thanks for sharing, it brings me back to the past

  15. Those views!!!! I cannot get enough of your shots. What an awesome experience! I am definitely saving this for when I travel to Indonesia for the first time.

  16. Loved your writing style. Felt was part of the hike. The hot springs must have been really welcoming after a tiring hike for aching muscles. I can see this was indeed an epic experience.

  17. Ami says:

    The hike reminds me of my Kelimutu one… With the same kind of gorgeous views. Though mine was not as adventurous as yours. Enjoyed reading your account and reliving my trip.

  18. Nisha says:

    What a hike? I could feel as if I was dong the hiking while reading. I loved your sense of humor !

  19. Mags says:

    “Roughing it” is worth it for views like that. That’s some hike. I was exhausted just reading about it.

  20. Dannielle says:

    I hiked Mount Rinjani two years ago and can wholeheartedly agree with the need to do research into your guides! We did zero, and it wasn’t great. Mostly, I just felt terrible for how poorly our guide and the porters were treated by their employers. I hated about 50% of the three days it took to do the hike, but just like you I’m glad I did it! I wrote a post about it too, if you’d like to check it out!

    Thanks
    Dannielle

    • Chantae says:

      Oh no, that’s awful. I actually did read your post before going on the trip! I loved it and thought it was pretty funny — despite being a bit unprepared. It’s one of those things that you don’t know until you go (how the guides are treated) because in many places, you can generally book a tour with anyone and it’ll be fine.

  1. February 5, 2017

    […] (Read Part I and Part III) […]

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