You vs. the Volcano: A Guide to Summiting Mt. Rinjani
From picking a trekking company to scoping out the bathroom situation, here’s what you need to know about summiting Mt. Rinjani.
Conquering Indonesia’s second highest peak? No easy feat. Still, you should add this active volcano to your travel bucket-list for the bragging rights alone. Standing at 12,224 feet, Mt. Rinjani, the second highest peak in all of Indonesia is one hell of a climb. Wide open fields turn into rolling hills that eventually become a steep, strenuous climb. While no one will promise you that this climb will be easy, no one will argue that it’s not worth every ounce of effort. It’ll be the best cardio workout money can buy, and one of the best adventure experiences you’ll find. If you’ve yet to experience the bliss and awe that comes with summit euphoria, Mt. Rinjani is without question one peak that promises to deliver. It will take your breath away—literally and figuratively. So, pack your headlamp, trusty boots, trekking poles, and your grit, and get ready for an epic hike.
Picking a Trekking Company
Choosing the right trekking company is undoubtedly one of the most important parts of planning an excursion. Hikers should keep three key factors in mind: communication, reasonable rates, and sustainability. Green Rinjani , headquartered in Senaru, Lombok cover all those bases and more.
Communication with the Green Rinjani team is easy and seemingly effortless. Booking and pre-hike check-ins happen via WhatsApp. Green Rinjani handles external communication for hikers and they arrange transportation and accommodations.
Rates are reasonable and comparable to other companies offering similar hikes, rates for personal porters are affordable, and Green Rinjani includes a complimentary pre-hike dinner at their HQ.
Sustainability is at the heart of Green Rinjani—as its name suggests. The eco-friendly company abides by “leave no trace” and hikers also get the opportunity to plant a tree while hiking Mt. Rinjani.
Where to Stay Before the Hike
To make your pre-hike orientation easier, Green Rinjani sets hikers up at accommodations located near their HQ. It’s a totally unassuming gem of a place and the nightly rate is a steal for what you get. From the street, Rinjani Lodge is unassuming in its simplicity. Once inside the property, though, its wow-factor is off the charts.
The lodge offers incredible, sweeping views of Lombok’s lush green landscape, and there are two infinity pools for guests to choose from. The Deluxe Double Bungalow rooms come complete with an outdoor bathroom with an enormous shower and luxurious bathtub. The restaurant on-site is simple, and overlooks the main infinity pool—and the food offerings are delicious. Pro-tip: Be sure to chat up the owner, Marta! He’s a gem, too.
What to Pack
Over-packers take note: you’re going to be carrying all that weight a long way, so think twice about what’s really essential.
Gear : A sturdy backpack , one with a hydration pack is helpful, though not essential, and a waterproof backpack cover . Reliable, ankle-high, water-resistant, hiking boots are key. This is not the time to break in new boots, stick with a pair you know are comfortable and supportive. Strong trekking poles and a headlamp are additional must-haves.
Clothing : Keep options to a minimum to reduce weight and bulk in your pack. Stick to light, comfortable layers. Wear thick, moisture-wicking socks to avoid blisters, and to keep your feet cool and dry. Do not leave home without rain gear and a warm, packable jacket for the hike to the summit.
Self-Care & Hygiene : You’ll want the basics—toothbrush, toothpaste, sunglasses, sunscreen (a must as shade is minimal), toilet paper, and bug repellent. Deodorant? Soap? Don’t bother. Opt for Wilderness Wipes to keep clean—they take up far less space, are lightweight, and efficient.
The Journey Begins
Day one starts with an early morning pick up from Rinjani Lodge by a Green Rinjani team member. You’ll be brought over to HQ where breakfast is cooking, and the team is prepping for departure. Side note: This is about the time nervous butterflies start to kick in.
The drive from HQ to the trailhead is long, windy, and bumpy—so, if you’re someone who gets carsick consider taking necessary precautions. Upon arrival at the trailhead, you will sign your name into the trail log, take one last real bathroom break, and hit the trail.
Day one on the trail is long, there is very little shade, a lot of ground is covered, and a lot of elevation is gained. From Pos I (not far from the trailhead, the first of three resting stops) to Crater Rim (the campsite) there is a total elevation gain of over 4,800 feet.
MOHD NOR HASEN BIN SUDIN/Shutterstock
Lunch Break and Tree Planting
Pos II is a fan favorite—it’s where hikers get their longest break (one hour!) and lunch. It’s the perfect time to sit, relax, and chat with other hikers in other groups, or just take a breather for yourself.
Prepare to be amazed by both the quality and quantity of food offered at lunch. Porters unpack their equipment, set up shop, and work together to prep amazing, fresh, super-fuel lunches for their respective groups. Remember to make your trekking company aware of any dietary restrictions you may have prior to departure. Green Rinjani was able to accommodate both a gluten-free and vegan diet on the trail.
Also, if you choose to hike with Green Rinjani, this lunch break is the time that you’ll get to plant a tree with the help of your guide.
Rinjani Samalas Tour
Pos III is the last resting stop before the long, uphill, push to camp at Crater Rim for the night. If you’ve yet to use for your trekking poles, the stretch from Pos III to camp will likely have you reaching for them. It’s a steady, steep climb from here to Crater Rim. Slow and steady wins the race—it’s a 2,752 feet elevation gain—and it’s a blissful feeling knowing that after this push you can sit in your tent, take your boots off, and relax.
mohd harris bin mat sarip/Shutterstock.
Crater Rim and Camp
As you ascend from POS III you’ll start to see brightly colored tents come into view. They’re a beacon of hope for tired muscles, signifying that you’re almost to home base for the night.
It’s worth noting that Crater Rim can be fickle—on a good day, the views are absolutely breathtaking, on a not so good day there may be no views to speak of due to cloud cover.
Still, you’re on the side of a mountain and you’ve just traversed an epic landscape, so not all is lost. When you return from summit back to camp the following day for post-summit breakfast the views here are generally better as the sun will be up and the clouds will likely have cleared.
It’s something everyone needs to, and wants to, know about—the bathroom situation. You’re only provided an “actual” bathroom space at Crater Rim, and it’s a small rectangular tent with no roof. On any other leg of the trail you go if you need to, where you can. Remember, this is an eco-friendly group that aims to abide by “leave no trace,” so bring a baggie to take your used toiletries back out with you. Or opt for a leaf. Hiker’s choice.
MOHD NOR HASEN BIN SUDIN/Shutterstock
Hike to Summit
The hike to summit starts with a 2:30 a.m. wake up call, and a small breakfast (don’t worry, a bigger breakfast awaits when you come back post-summit). Hikers set out into the darkness, headlamps lighting the way, by 3 a.m. to make it up to the summit for sunrise.
The terrain leading up to the summit is unlike anything most hikers have experienced—unless they’ve hiked a volcano before, in which case climbing up volcanic ash may be something they’re used to. It’s a very slow process, and the difficulty level of this leg of the journey should not be underestimated. Still, it’s doable.
Trekking poles are incredibly helpful for this portion of the hike for both stability and support. The ash in unforgiving, and each step forward results in a small slide back.
Even if you didn’t pass more than 10 hikers along your day one trek expect to see dozens at the summit—especially if you’re making good time and make it up for sunrise. It does get a bit crowded up at the top, but not uncomfortably so. Hikers are friendly, and excited, doling out high fives and congratulations.
While you may have been working up a sweat on the climb up, you’ll be glad to have your layers on once you reach the top, it’s cold and windy up at 12,224 feet!
You did it! But the work is not over. While coming down is surely easier than going up, it’s no less taxing on the muscles. Even the most sure-footed hikers will likely take a tumble as they slide their way down the mountain. Slow and steady is the way to go here to avoid any injury, and to avoid a domino effect of tumbling hikers. Again, your trekking pole will prove to be a loyal companion offering stability and helping to keep you upright.
At this point, the sun will be up and the views are otherworldly. You’ll likely be accompanied by some mountainside monkeys, too, who make the climb look effortless.
If you’ve done a hike similar to this before, then you know this to be true: porters are superhuman. Not only do they make the hike look effortless, they make it look effortless while carrying 40 plus pounds over their shoulder as they pass you in sandals. Yep, sandals.
You wouldn’t have survived the trek without them (and your guide, too, of course) so don’t forget to pack some extra cash to tip them and show your gratitude.
Disclaimer: Mt. Rinjani is an active volcano. Last summer, earthquakes caused landslides and remobilization of ash on Mt. Rinjani. Travelers are urged to use their discretion when visiting the area.