Our Rinjani Trekking mini series:Extra: How to choose a reliable trekking Company
In our previous episode from our trek report, we told you the story of how we woke up at 1:30 a.m. to reach the summit of Gunung Rinjani in time for sunrise and we left you once we were back at our base camp on the ridge of the crater.
Descending towards Segara Anak Lake
Around 10:40 am after a well deserved breakfast, we started our way down towards Lake Segara Anak, where we would have camped for our second night.
We were back inside the clouds since the trail was going abruptly down, requiring at points the installation of stairs and railings to facilitate the passage of the hikers in total safety.
Because of the increased speed we were descending, also the vegetation started to change quite fast, becoming more and more thick, with trees and new flower species appearing next to us. Where once passed the lava bringing destruction, now there were rivers of flowers, taking advantage of the nutrients brought by the volcanic ashes.
Exploring the hot springs in Rinjani
In about 2 hours and a half, we were at the bottom of the valley next to the lake, and while our porters proceeded further to find a proper place to pitch our tents, we went for the first time to the natural pools with hot thermal water just minutes away from Lake Segara Anak and the camping area.
After a long extenuating day started when it was still night, it was what we were dreaming of and keeping our legs going: a relaxing and reinvigorating pool, massaging our aching muscles with warm water said to have healing properties, and beautiful views spoiling our eyes.
Well, that was our imagination, then the reality was a little bit different.
The main part of the hot spring was composed of two natural pools with the hot water coming from two separate waterfalls from the top, not only a pleasant place to relax but also beautiful. There were also other smaller pools on top, but the water was to hot to be enjoyable.
Unfortunately as it was easy to be expected, the pools were the most desired destination of the day not only for us but also for all the other hikers. In the mix of foreign tourists with girls dressed in bikini and conservative locals totally covered with clothes, it wasn't easy to find a spot to stay in the water, let alone a peaceful spot to be cradle by the natural elements.
So after some time spent at the natural pools we went back to the camping area, where we found our porters and our tent ready for the night.
An environment full of contrasts next to Segara Anak Lake
The view of Mount Baru Jani just a few hundred meters away was impressive and scary at the same time. We were amazed seeing the ridge of the caldera surrounding us and the lake 360° but we were feeling threatened at the same time, like a bird in a cage threatened with a burning charcoal. The sulfurous smoke coming out from the crater from one moment to the other could have transformed into a deadly eruption, but we soon got used with the idea and preferred to enjoy and trust the prediction of calm, and didn't bother anymore.
The lake was totally still and the only movements you could perceive were the vibrations generated each time a fishing lens would pass the interface between the air and the water making an audible “tic!”.
There were plenty of people of any age fishing for their evening meal at the camping site, or collecting edible delicacies to bring back to their families at the village.
The camping area of our second night in Mount Rinjani
The waterfront was totally occupied by tents and even walking in between them revealed to be a difficult mission. Finding a proper place to camp was probably not an easy job for our porters, since every patch of land was taken.
Unlike in the camping area in the ridge the previous night, here the vast majority of the people were local hikers, some of them here to summit Rinjani, others just to socialize and fish in the lake.
After almost one year spent living in Indonesia we can say that as much as we like the friendliness and spontaneity of the Indonesian people, they are not the best in taking care of their surroundings and they have no environment concern. That meant that the camping area was a totally overcrowded and promiscuous place were garbage was either accepted next to the tents as a gift of mother nature or burned for the pleasure of everybody's sense of smell.
The spot our porters chose was a little bit further from the lake, with some friendly Indonesian youngsters as our neighbors playing guitar and singing non stop till night.
While we would enjoyed the atmosphere in another situation, after waking up at 1:30am and trekking all day long, what we wanted now was just silence and rest. Luckily the party ended when it was time to go to sleep and we could finally take our long awaited rest.
Third day is starting with another visit to the natural pools
The following morning after our breakfast, we couldn't wait anymore to go back to relax at the thermal baths, hoping to have better luck than the previous day.
In fact we decided to take the longer 4 days 3 nights tour to have 1 (split) day of total relax, so that while most of the people were rushing to leave as early as possible and be back in Senaru village before dark, we could relax and take our time with the pools for ourselves.
The program for the third day was to stay at the natural pools as much as we wanted and then hike for only 3 hours in order to reach the Senaru Crater Rim, considered to be the second best view point after Rinjani Summit, where we would have camped for the night.
But unfortunately both of our assumptions were wrong, since eventually we didn't enjoy the pools and we didn't sleep at the second best viewpoint, as you'll read in our last article from our Rinjani Trek report.
In fact right after breakfast our guide started to put pressure on us, because he wanted to leave as early as possible, and he actually had already given us advance notice of his decision the previous evening. We were quite upset since our program was stating something different and we tried to protest and come down to an agreement, but to no avail.
Eventually we went to the thermal baths with our backpacks packed and our mood ruined, while our guide was waiting for us on a rock, standing as a crow reminding us we had to leave.
The baths were amazing, but not as empty as we were expecting. There were just a few tourists but many locals, in particular kids jumping all over the place.
Being early morning it was time for showers: if you have read our previous articles you probably know that what we don't like of Indonesians is their total disrespect of nature, mostly for ignorance (in the sense of not being educated to it). That meant that people were happily bathing in the natural warm water and rubbing their skin using chemical soaps, while we were trying to enjoy what was supposed to be a pristine environment.
We tried to stay away from the freshly polluted water and took place in the secondary pool, still trying to relax and enjoying at least the amazing landscape we had as a background.
Then it was the time for some entertainment, with the diving competition that spontaneously aroused involving locals and foreigners alike, jumping from the cliffs several meters high.
Another thing that you might not know about Indonesians, is that they are obsessed with selfies and social medias, much more than western countries, and they would do anything for a popular shot! That's how one of the local guys diving in the water, jumped while holding his selfie-stick with his phone attached to it. I wish for him it had at least a waterproof protection!
We spent about 1 hour and a half at the host springs, before giving up to the visual insistence of our guide and going back to the trail to hike towards Senaru Crater Rim and our last camping destination in Rinjani.
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.