Our Rinjani Trekking mini series:Extra: How to choose a reliable trekking Company
Our 3rd day along the paths of the Rinjani trek had started with a bath in the natural pool looking at people diving and us trying to relax before hiking.
Climbing towards the Senaru Crater Rim
Around 10 a.m. we left the hot springs and started hiking toward our last camping place, according to program supposed to be on the Senaru Crater Rim just 3 hours away at 2,620m.
The beginning of the trail was flat and just going around the lake until we reached the beginning of the path leading to the top of the rim. As you can imagine a Volcano crater can be quite steep, so as soon as we deviated from the lakeside trail, the route started to go abruptly up.
The landscape was really pleasant with the view of the lake and Mount Baru Jani, and all the crater surrounding us.
At point the path was passing through steep banks of rocks, were steps, railings and help were needed to proceed forward. It was crazy to look at the porters passing all the obstacles with agility while wearing only slippers or sometimes even barefoot and their hands busy balancing the luggage!
And it was also fascinating to see female local hikers dressed according to Muslim dress code, adventuring in such a track! Really admirable. At the same time the clouds were entering the caldera from one side of the crater and slowly taking possession of the surface of the lake.
Mount Baru Jani looked like a barrier to the clouds that were struggling to proceed further than the volcanic cone.
View from the Senaru Crater Rim and conflicts
We soon reached the crater rim, after 2 hours 40 minutes of walk, to find a small plateau where there were plenty of tents pitched and even more people looking at the landscape, while some macaques accustomed to the presence of humans were messing around.
We were at what was said to be the second best viewpoint along Rinjani Trek, but unfortunately the view wasn't totally unobstructed because of the clouds inside the craters. And we couldn't get to see the three Gili islands and Gunung Agung, the highest point in Bali, as we were supposed to.
According to the program we had to sleep in the plateau on top of the crater rim so that we would have had plenty of time to enjoy the view and wait for the clouds to clear up.
But unfortunately we had the second bad surprise of the day, after the one at the thermal pools, and another conflict with our guide, that unilaterally decided not to camp in the rim, but to keep going further to sleep in the Jungle. And it was no possibility to change his decision because he had already sent the porters in front to set the camp.
According to him the problem was that it was no water source available there and we didn't have enough water with us, but it looked like for some reasons our guide was in a rush to go back as soon as possible.
Actually it wasn't a huge problem for us not sleeping in the rim, since it was quite crowded and noisy, but we would have liked at least to stop some time waiting to see if the clouds were going to clear up and revealing the “second best view” of Rinjani with the lake in all of their splendor.
Our best option would have actually been to stop for a few hours, have lunch and then proceed further to find a camping spot in the forest.
Proceeding to our freezing lunch spot
But unfortunately once again our guide took what revealed to be a wrong decision, and pushed us to leave after a mere 20 minutes break. Not only we lost the views, but we had to have lunch in a freezing spot, on the other side of the crater, exposed to the wind and with foggy and humid weather.
Lesson learned is that you should be looking for a reliable company, and we did, but then you should also make sure they are assigning you one of their best guides.
Good thing was that also at our freezing lunch spot, the landscape, a series of bumps one after the other against the blue sky, with lonely trees spread randomly over the area, was impressive and somehow resembling what we have seen already on our first day trekking in Rinjani, but better.
It's bringing back to my memory, mostly for the colors, the famous wallpaper of Windows Xp.
Entering in the rainforest at the feet of Mount Rinjani
After lunch we hiked further down, entering eventually the luxurious rainforest and meeting some more primate friends, while walking on a dusty road crossed by huge roots arranged on several levels, creating natural staircases.
It was a beautiful jungle with a mixture of trees, palms, lianas, flowers, berries, moss and as much mist as it's needed to make it feel magical: the sun filtering through the vegetation and casting ray of lights was quite dramatic and romantic.
Finally just before sunset, we reached the camping place chosen by our porters, right in front of a shelter (POS) in direction of Senaru.
Once again Indonesian taste didn't agree with ours. The location was quite dirty since it was where all the trekkers where stopping on their way to the village, and of course crowded and noisy. Apparently Indonesians are so used to these features that not only they get used to them, but they might even look for them.
This time we managed to make ourselves heard, and to convince our team to move just 5 minutes backward on a totally empty and “non official” small plateau, where we had the area all for ourselves.
It was no doubt a great choice, since very few people passed from there after it got dark and nobody stopped to spend the night.
So we were finally alone, after 3 days of forced promiscuity, enjoying the silence of the noisy jungle playing its orchestra for our pleasure, before having our camping dinner and happily going to sleep. In the end the unilateral decision of our guide to sleep in the jungle was a good one, but we really wished to have stopped for lunch in the Senaru Crater Rim to get more of the second best viewpoint. So now you know, that's our suggestion for you trip: lunch at the rim, camp in the forest.
Last day in Rinjani Volcano
Next morning we were naturally awake at sunrise, after being for some days in nature, your biorhythm get easily synchronized with that one of Mother Nature.
After a couple of hours hiking, we were already at the bottom at the entrance gate of Rinjani National Park on Senaru side, and thus officially finishing our 4 days trekking on Rinjani Volcano.
Our guide took 2 ojek (motorcycle taxi) for us to take us back to the company headquarters located not far away, where the owner of our Tour Company, Adi, was warmly waiting for us eager to know how the trekking went.
Adi still took great care of us till the last second, offering us a really appreciated vegetarian meal, after 4 days of camping food, letting us take showers in his private house and even inviting us to spend an extra night at its expenses, that we eventually refused because of constraints of time.
Despite the misunderstandings with our guide, we still had 4 amazing days and a feeling of accomplishment was pervading us at the end of the trekking.
Reaching the summit of mount Rinjani wasn't an easy job, but it's an experience that we would suggest to anybody, challenging your physical limit and storing thousands of mental pictures along the multitude of ecosystem you'll meet on the way.
We have to publicly thank Adi Trekker that offered to sponsor us and give us the opportunity to add a memorable experience to our travel journal.
Disclaimer: While our trek in Mount Rinjani was donated by Adi Trekker, everything we wrote in this report was our first hand experience and our sincere opinion about it.