Much Better Adventurer Sarah Boyd conquered the summit of Indonesia’s second tallest volcano and told us the tale upon her return.
Mt Rinjani, in North Lombok, is the volcano that dominates the landscape from Bali. The volcano, sitting at 3,726m, has a hot spring in its caldera, a welcome relief for visitors on the mountain. Recorded eruptions from 1876 onwards have caused a new cone to poke through the luscious blue waters. Needless to say, the mountain has a visual impact like no other and is an essential hike for any active thrill seeker.
Much Better Adventurer, Sarah Boyd, conquered the summit and returned to tell us the tale.
We had spent the last 2 weeks on Bali, sampling the beaches, bars, and everything else that the island has to offer. So it was time for us to embark on a proper adventure.
We had arrived quite late on the first night, but our driver kindly waited up for us. I should add, his name was ketchup. He drove us 3 hours to the small town of Senaru. Upon arrival, he gave us a briefing on the trip and gave us a run through of the trip. It’s slightly harder to judge the incline of the mountain by the map, contour lines or not.
We then got a heavy night’s sleep, before the next day’s undertaking.
We woke up and drove across to Sembalun to sign in at the park ranger station. At this point, we were feeling pretty optimistic and had perhaps underestimated the difficulty of the trek ahead.
The first day was gorgeous. It was a steady incline, but with fresh legs and low altitude, it felt like a relative breeze. It was quite gradual as we hiked through chilli farms and sections of rainforest. The wet season meant the colours were sensational. The patches of grassland and rainforest were a blend of golden and green, and the gentle wind was a welcome buffer against the humid Indonesian heat.
You also see the peak the entire time, a constant reminder of what’s to come.
When we stopped for lunch. We were stunned by the quality and quantity of the lunches. We couldn’t believe how much the porters could cook simply with what they were carrying on their backs. We were treated to a massive fruit platter, alongside traditional Indonesian dishes…
The porters were also really considerate about litter. They ensured we cleared all of our rubbish off the mountain, which is certainly more than I can say for a few of the other guides going up the mountain.
You get quite a high level of elevation in a pretty short time. You don’t really feel it though. Once you finally get to the campsite at 2,600m, you get the most incredible view of the lake. You don’t see any of that until you get over the top of the crater.
You’re rewarded by this landscape suddenly opening up in front of you. It’s really quite staggering.
The porters were incredible as they had arrived ahead of time, and had set up the campsite, sleeping bags rolled out, and dinner was already underway. They’re amazing, as they do the whole trek in only flip-flops and with huge carry packs on their back.
And the next morning (that evening?) we woke up at 2 am. Some members didn’t sleep that well due to the altitude, wind on the tents, as well as the awareness that we’d be up so early.
But when we woke, we were all really excited, and genuinely filled with a sense of adventure. On top of that, we had a sensational view of the stars. We were also really lucky with the weather for the weekend, we had clear skies the whole way through.
But this was the day of the summit. I’m not going to lie, it was really tough. It was this volcanic soil that was really hard to get steady in. It really was a case of two steps forward, one step back. Especially as you only do it with a head torch, you can’t keep a track of how little progress you’re making. A blessing in disguise, perhaps.
When you’re really close to the top, you’re really starting to flag and you can feel it in your legs. You can then see a sharp line of orange on the cliff top just before the sun rises.
It’s a strange mixture of appreciation and fatigue. Perhaps 40-60, fatigue it. But you feel really good for making it on time, and it’s amazing to see the sun slowly illuminate Bali. You see the shadow of the mountain across the lake and the volcano.
It’s worth every bit of pain you feel on the way up.
We made it back down to the next campsite for around 11 am. A hearty breakfast, (or was it lunch?) was exactly what I needed. We had a bit of time to relax, which was really appreciated.
We then hiked down into the valley. It’s more wooded, and it’s great to get a new perspective of the national park.
Once you have arrived at the lake, a swim was certainly in order. The algae didn’t turn us off. It’s not something you can do every day, so you may as well jump in. The hot springs were just around the corner and were incredible for our sore muscles.
As we hadn’t had an opportunity to shower at all so far, so this was massively appreciated.
The hike up to the next campsite was probably my favourite section of the hike. That night, we also had incredible stars. The clouds climb up the side of the mountain and moved so quickly that view was changing all the time. We were also treated to a sunset of a lifetime. After that, I think we passed out at 7.30 pm.
It was pretty intense, but ultimately really, really rewarding.
The final day was the easiest day. You hike back down into the forest, and you see monkeys everywhere you go. Descending into the cooler, breezier temperatures was much appreciated. This day was the easiest day, and we really couldn’t have handled anything more intense.
Ever since we returned from this trip, my boyfriend has already planned his next adventure up Kilimanjaro. It really was the adventure of a lifetime, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Words and pictures by Much Better Adventurer, Sarah Boyd. You can follow Sarah on Instagram: @boydos_activeadventures.