Hiking in Indonesia: Scaling Mt. Rinjani

We don’t realize how many life changing decisions are made while lounging in university hallways, work computers or over cups of coffee.
“Let’s go here,” I said to my friend excitedly while we were planning our trip to Indonesia and as I drooled over a photo of a smoky volcano surrounded by misty green waters. Sure enough, there we were two months later standing at the gates of Gunung Rinjani National Park. We were all geared up for our three-day hike…or so I thought… little did I know what lay in store for me.
Located in Lombok, Indonesia this National Park gets its name from Mount Rinjani (Gunung Rinjani) which is the third highest mountain in the country at 3,726 m. We were headed to Lombok from another set of islands nearby called the Gilis and had booked our hike in advance there. Booking in advance is quite uncharacteristic of me but I was travelling with a planner and in this case it wasn’t such a bad thing. We were met in Lombok by our lovely, smiling and endearingly tiny guide Remo. Remo of the ruffled hair fame smoked a lot and despite that had enough stamina to run up the mountain and back, twice, before the rest of could even reach halfway.
At the gates, I realized that I had travelled to Lombok with only flip flops and no jacket whatsoever. I had thrown my hiking shoes (someone threw up in them in Bali) and I was in Indonesia in June so why would I need woolies right? Wrong. As it turns out, it gets pretty cold at the height of 3,726 m. Luckily the guys at the park offices were prepared for bumbling summer focused hikers like me and loaned me the missing wares (yep, even the shoes).
Hiking through Rainforests in Lombok after being sleep deprived for 48 hours

My friend was raring to go and practically ran uphill the entire way while I on the other hand hadn’t slept too much the previous night. I was coming from the Gilis remember? So there I was walking through a dense rain forest, looking less human by the minute and considering what my chances of a helicopter rescue were. Just as I was about to make a rather melodramatic appeal to Remo, we stopped for lunch. There was some freshly cooked satay and noodle soup prepared by the superhuman porters who it seemed had been waiting years for us to reach.

Lunch time refueling on our way up Mt. Rinjani, Lombok
Post lunch things started to look up, literally. The climb became even steeper but luckily for me we were now out of the jungles and I was no longer a walking pool of sweat. I made my way to the camp site, narrowly avoided being attacked by a few monkeys on the way and dived straight into my bright yellow tent to make up for being sleep deprived for almost 48 hours.
Next morning after a 6:00 am wake up and breakfast, we had to do our business out in the open, as you do when you are hiking, only this time we had pervert monkeys for company. It turned out to be quite a task as you might imagine (if you’d like to).  We then made our way to the western part of Mt. Rinjani where amidst the sulphurous smelling waters of Segara Anak Lake lies a new volcano emerging from the centre. It was a breathtaking sight, which given the altitude we were at might not have been the best thing.
The Emerald Green Segara Anak Lake, Gunung Rinjani National Park
We then continued our journey to some hot water springs enjoying aerial views of the Gili Islands along the way. When we finally reached the springs it felt like I was being rewarded for my bravery and exemplary resilience. The springs formed a series of small waterfalls which acted as natural masseuses. It was much needed after the amount we had all walked (and fallen in my case). Eight hours after our spring jaunt we managed to reach the base camp.

That night I saw the Milky Way closer than I have ever seen it before and also one of the most captivating sunsets of my life. As the sun set it created magic with the surrounding mountains and turned the green of the Segara Anak Lake into an almost spiritual orange. That evening alone made over 20 hours of walking completely worth it. Despite freezing temperatures and a tiny tent, I slept like a baby with the goofiest smile on my face.

Photos never do justice to the real thing. The sunset over Mt. Rinjani is what sweet dreams are made of
Next morning was Day Three and most of it was spent in the descent which when you are going down a sandy slope with nothing to grab on to is no cake walk. However we all managed to make our way down  albeit with a few bruises and scratches but nothing someone who’d just scaled Rinjani couldn’t handle.
The very last part of the hike involved walking through a village and I happened to catch my reflection after 72 hours and immediately wished I hadn’t. At the end of it all I am so glad we went on the hike because it is one of my fondest memories of the trip. I challenged myself physically, emotionally and mentally (I swear at some points I was having imaginary conversations) and was fortunate enough to witness some unparalleled beauty. That said, would I be accompanying a friend on another climb up Rinjani? Umm…not anytime soon (read: a million years). Been there, done that. Thank you very much, I earned it.
Note: An earlier version of this article was published in Emaho Magazine.



  1. Ankita this sounds like quite of a trip! Loved the bit about the monkeys. I will be in Indonesia this October and now inspired by your Lombok experience will definitely do the hike! really enjoyed the post and cannot wait for your next travels! Ewelina (www.crackingtheoyster.com)


  2. Ewelina, I would totally recommend going on this hike. It was one of the highlights of my trip through Indo. Are you there at the moment? How's the trip going? Let me know if you hit Bali, have a tonne of insider tips I could share.


  3. As I read the part about you forgetting your shoes/cold weather gear, I realized I'd heard about this story on #TravelIST! Awesome 🙂

    Amazing pictures, that one of the lake with the mountains in the background is stunning.

    Also, pervert monkeys? Hilarious. Just glad I didn't have to do business around them!


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