Just enough time to recover from our emotions on the volcanoes of the island of Java, that we go for the most difficult trek of the whole trip (and that is not a little saying). We head to the summit of the Rinjani volcano on Lombok Island! We might as well be suffering right away, so we will rest on the Gili islands just next door after… That’s
stupid good idea!
Booking the Trek
We might as well start with the most complicated things. Yes, contrary to what you might think, climbing on a volcano is less difficult than negotiating a 3 days/2 nights package on the volcano with Indonesians! We find the rare gem in Ubud, with a package, certainly a little more expensive than the others, but which includes everything: the speed boat for Lombok, the transfer to the guesthouse for the night before the trek, the 3 days trekking (meals, tents and sleeping bags provided) and the transfer wherever we want. Basically, we only have our little backpacks to grab with us, filled with warm clothes.
Good thing to know, the port of Padang Bai has been imposing a toll for a few months. The inhabitants do not allow you to embark if you do not pay this totally arbitrary “tax”. Our all-inclusive package does not include this toll, but we can negotiate with the agency.
We are taken care of as soon as we arrive in Lombok. It is in a cart drawn by a donkey, then in a car with a German guy, that we go to the guesthouse located in the village of Senaru. Quiet evening where we meet the four other pairs that make up our group and Udji who will be our guide for these three days.
Surprising wake up: a spider, as big as a hand, decides to come and make friends as we pack. Not that we didn’t like Maïtika! But when her little sister comes out at the corner of the window, we grab our things and decide not to put our feet back into this room. A breakfast in the belly later, we climb into the trailer of a pick-up to go to the starting point of the walk at about 1h of (tortuous) road.
First day: Easy peasy
After registering at the entrance to the park, we follow the track and start the adventure. The excitement is quite present, the pace is rather fast. I’m already starting to think that at this speed, I won’t last lon… Finally, we can find a rhythm that is right for everyone. We have a quasi-professional trekking Austrian woman and a former Belgian professional skier in the group. By the way, the Austrian abandons us quickly because it is more tiring to wait for us than to walk. Rather high level guys, when we can just say we did 6 months of squash in amateur mode! 😉
The first part of the path is relatively easy with a bit of false plate rising. This allows us to have a beautiful view of the volcano that awaits us… It’s after the meal that we start serious things. We started the hike about 1500 meters above sea level and we have to reach the base camp at 2 600m. So you have to go up at some point. #CQFD
The climb is steep but doable, even if it gets tough halfway. After two hours, we don’t see the end of it. Udji announced about 4 hours of walking. It’s long, very long… But we are relieved to finally get out of the woods after 3:30 on this infernal ascent. The carriers of our stuff have already arrived and are in the process of setting up the camp. We take our breath in front of the beautiful scenery that is offered to us. We’re going to get a great sunset. Our porters are worried because the youngest of them, still has not arrived and he wears the last tent and appliances to make food. This is his first trek as a porter and the poor man arrives exhausted. Our guide Udji, former carrier also, had to go back down to carry his “loading” to arrive faster. We really don’t have to complain about having only our little bags to carry on…
Once the sun is down, we quickly feel the wind and the cold. Each binomial enters his tent. We warm up in our sleeping bags trying to put the sticks of the tent back in place because of the wind. The meal is a delightful and very welcome to warm us up before we go to bed. The night is short since we have to take off at 2:30 tomorrow morning to attack the summit.
Second day: How to push back its limits?
The night is very agitated because it is really cold even in the sleeping bag. We’re sleepy when Udji comes to our tent with tea, before we leave. We put all the layers we can and begin the ascent of the Rinjani, illuminated by our only frontal.
It is very strange because despite the large number of tourists who climb, we feel really alone, in our bubble, concentrated on our steps and our breathing. The first ascent announces the color since we climb on a carpet of ash/pebbles. We take a step forward, when we do two back. Hard for the legs and head, but we arrive on the crest, surrounded on each side by the emptiness.
We then attack the second part, subjected to the icy winds and still in the dark night. We feel that the effort becomes more difficult as more and more people take breaks on the sides, seeking shelter behind rocks.
The third and last part is the most difficult and is fatal for me. We’re still walking for a while, pushing our limits always farthest. We stop at 200 meters from the top, because I literally crack. Shame, we will not do our little picture with the sign “Rinjani, 3 700m”. My legs are no longer moving. I crash in tears. Mister could have gone on and reach the top for the sunrise, but he prefers to stay with me as we lost Udji and he does not want to leave me alone. We shelter under our survival cover (very good investment!) and decide to wait for the sunrise here, half protected from the wind. The latter is still strong and cold, despite the horizon begins to lighten and we start freezing where we are.
We start to go down a little earlier than expected and enjoy a superb sunrise on the crest and completely alone. Finally, we are rewarded by the beauty of the landscapes that are revealed in front of us. The lake in the crater downstairs reminds us that the trek is still far from over.
We slowly go down to the base camp and have the surprise of meeting monkeys. Mister would have taken some pictures, but one of them started showing fangs, se we did not insist and continued. Arrived at the camp, we find the two French guys of our group who preferred not to ride. We warm up in the sun waiting for the others for breakfast. What a pleasure to have hot pancakes! 😉
After climbing to 3 500 meters, then descending to 2 600m, it is now time to go down to 2 0000m by the lake in the crater, and then climb to the other side of the crater at 2 600m to join our second base camp. We pack everything and our porters leave ahead of us. They are amazing because they do not look tired, when we breathless because of the effort we have just provided and the one that is still waiting for us.
Lunch break is done a little before the lake, which is actually a real open-air trash can. The development of tourism has unfortunately not only positive effects on the region. We are still provided with a very good meal, before going to relax for a little while in the hot springs next to the lake. It is a real pleasure to rest the legs in this water naturally heated by the activity of the volcano. Just what everyone needed to get back in shape.
So we are not afraid to face the 600m of climb that await us… well until the first set of stairs. We are lucky to have a very nice group, in which good humour is essential. This helps everyone to keep going and to arrive at the second camp just before the sunset. We are above the clouds and the golden sun illuminates the mountain, which greatly rewards our efforts of the day. It takes little to be happy as Baloo would say! We do not ask for our rest tonight and everyone lies in his sleeping once the night falls, in order to find sleep.
Third and last day: “When are we arriving?”
The night is once again well agitated because even cooler than the previous one. Fortunately, this morning we can get up at the same time as the sun and quickly warm up thanks to the first rays. This last day is going to be difficult. We stretch but the muscles are stiff and painful.
Be reassured, they quickly get warm when we take the track to go down. The arrival deadline, 1 000m lower motivates everyone. We don’t run, but we have a good rhythm, so much so that we catch up with a group of body-build guys who are running the path. Udji laughs and tells us that we are not very fast. #delusion
We share one last meal with our group and our carriers, just before the arrival in the village. It reminds us that we are also living a very beautiful human adventure, in addition to a physical challenge. Udji accompanies us to the meeting point at the entrance of Senaru. A moment of pure happiness once arrived: we share a well deserved beer with our friends. This is where we meet a couple of French people asking us if we are bloggers. We talk to them about Blog-packers, so they are smiling ans say that they are following us since the beginning of our trip. Cool! We are very happy to talk with them for a little while, who are also traveling around the world. PS: If you always follow our adventures, we say hello! 😉
So these three days of unforgettable adventure come to an end. We are proud of ourselves, even though we did not reach the top of the Rinjani. This trek is a great lesson of self-transcendence. We are very happy to have done it with the people in our group who are just great. Now we take the boat, direction Gili Air to do nothing, if not sunbathe by the beach or pool! See you soon!