Full disclosure, I received a complimentary trek with Jou Trekking, however all opinions are my own.
I’ve already recapped my personal experience trekking Mount Rinjani. Overall, it was a fantastic time and something I would highly recommend to any outdoor enthusiast visiting Indonesia. But you may have some questions about booking, packing, etc. before planning your trip. So here’s everything you need to know.
Do I need to be physically fit?
Mount Rinjani is not an easy trek. There are some serious elevation gains. I would definitely recommend a reasonable amount of physical fitness. You don’t need hiking experience, plenty of people had never hiked before but it certainly makes it easier.
One thing to keep in mind, you do not have to summit. Many people chose to stay back in camp while others got up at 2 am to summit. Not summiting will make the trek much easier, and there are still very beautiful views along the way.
Which trek should I choose?
There are multiple options of Mt Rinjani treks plus there are two starting points.
It’s easier and more popular to start in Sembulan than Senaru, since Sembulan is at a higher elevation and quicker to reach the summit. All trekkers spend the night before in Senaru but if you choose the Sembulan trek you will be transported there the morning of the trek.
The 2 day/1 night allows you to summit but you will miss out on the crater lake and hot springs. If you’re short on time this is an option but I would recommend at least the 3 day/2 night trek so you can enjoy the full experience.
The 3 day/2night trek is a great option. You get to complete the entire route. However, day 2 is a long day of hiking. Most groups took 10-12 hours to complete the journey.
The 4 day/3night trek allows you to have a more leisurely day 2. After the summit, you have all downhill to the crater lake where you camp. It’s a nice spot where you can swim and visit the hot springs. This is the best option for people who are slower hikers, prefer more breaks or don’t think they could handle 10-12 hours of hiking in one day. For me personally, I think I would have been bored taking an extra day. We reached the crater lake by 11 a.m. which means you would have half the day to kill. But it’s really a matter of personal preference, speed, and experience.
How to choose a company?
There are many operators and people willing to sell you Mt Rinjani treks anywhere across Indonesia, so the options may seem overwhelming but it’s important to do your research.
The first thing I urge you to consider is environment and ethics. Sadly, Mt Rinjani is littered with garbage. Some companies toss their garbage at the camps like it’s no big deal. To combat this problem, choose a company that packs out all their garbage. Be sure to ask this question to your tour operator before booking. Another concern is the safety of the porters. Currently, there are no regulations on how many porters a group needs to have, how much a porter carries, or their accommodations/food, etc. We are told regulations are coming in to restrict the weight the porters carry soon. But for now, ask these questions. You might pay more for a company that hires more porters but when you see what these guys have to carry up the mountain, you will know you made the right choice paying more.
We chose Jou Trekking. Jou is a small, new company. As a former porter and guide himself, it’s very important to him to take care of his employees and the trail. Guides and porters work for multiple different companies but our guide spoke highly of Jou and said he would prefer to work exclusively for him. He hires extra porters for the longer treks to minimize the weight they need to carry. His group packs all garbage and brings it down the mountain. On our trek, the porters and guide shared a nice tent, similar to ours to sleep in and they had their own food, so they were not waiting to eat our leftovers as some groups were.
What’s included in the trek?
I can only speak for my experience with Jou Trekking but in addition to the meals, guide, trekking equipment, and park entrance fees we received transportation to and from the trek anywhere on Lombok. This was a HUGE value and took any concern of how to get to Senaru out of the equation. Our accommodation the night before the trek was also included and a guided tour of two local waterfalls.
What will the food be like?
The food on the trek was really good and plentiful! We brought a bunch of snacks with us because we were worried we would be hungry but it turned out it definitely wasn’t necessary!
Breakfasts varied between banana pancakes, sandwiches, and tempe egg burgers. For lunch and supper we had food like nasi goreng, noodle soup, chicken curry, and spaghetti. Plus we were always given a ton of fruit. Tea and coffee was provided at each meal and they had a huge variety of soft drinks, juices, sports drinks and even a beer! Our guide was also WELL stocked with snacks. Every time we stopped he would offer us a new type of cookie or chocolate bar.
What’s the sleeping like?
Sleeping is of course in tents. We were provided with really good quality tents, a sleeping mat, a warm sleeping bag and an inflatable pillow.
At the end of the day, they also set up a toilet tent. Now it’s just a hole in the ground but they put up a tent around it for privacy which is nice and provide toilet paper.
Tips for packing
Unless you hire a porter to carry your bag, which is pricey ($25US/day), you will be carrying your own supplies, so pack light.
My packing list for 3D/2N trek (includes what I wore on first day)
- 2 pairs shorts
- 1 pair pants (you will want pants for the summit – it gets cold and very dusty)
- 3 shirts
- 1 pair pajamas
- 3 pair socks/underwear
- shoes (hiking shoes if you have but I did it all in running shoes without any concern)
- flip flops (feels amazing to take off your shoes at the end of the day or even at lunch break)
- rain and windproof jacket
- rain poncho
- earplugs (there are many camp visitors – mice, monkeys, pigs, and dogs so trust me you will want earplus to sleep through the night)
- headlamp (a good one! You will be hiking in pitch dark)
- snacks (not much but if you have something you prefer)
- wet wipes (there are no showers so these are a lifesaver)
- deoderant (do your group a favor)
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- bathing suit
- ziploc bags (great for putting your sweaty clothing and wet bathing suit into)
- book/cards/etc – you have a lot of downtime in the afternoon or evenings so you will want something to keep yourself entertained
- headphones (a good idea to put in some music to get you through some of the harder stretches)
- external battery (optional, if you think you’ll need it to recharge your devices)