Lombok island is large. It’s large enough to get lost, but it’s more likely to get lost in it’s charms, sights and sounds and many exciting activities. From the ocean depths to the mountain top, this paradise under the Sun is sure to whet your appetite, whether it’s for adventure, and the great outdoors.
Lombok Island’s Massive Mountain
Standing 3,725m tall, it is the dominant feature of the surrounding land, visible from both Bali and Sumbawa islands. In 1257, Gunung Samalas, a peak just next to Gunung Rinjani exploded in a spectacular fashion. The ejected material amounted to 10 cubic kilometers of ash, pumice and rock that blanketed lands as far as Java in soot up to several centimeters thick. Gunung Rinjani’s ash plume towered tens of kilometers into the sky, disrupting global weather patterns and bringing on a little ice age that stalled the arrival of Summer for the whole of the proceeding year.
Gunung Rinjani is still very much seismically active and has been erupting periodically since 2010, with the latest volcanic explosions occurring in late 2016. When the meteorological service deems it safe to grant access to the volcano, it would take the average hiker 6 hours to reach the base camp and a further 3-5 to arrive at the summit.
Grassland with tall stalks reaching to one’s head, verdant jungles, shifting sands, and razor sharp boulders are some of the obstacles that the thrill seeker will have to brave to reach the summit, the huge crater lake, and to catch a glimpse of the unrivalled views of the fertile lava plains below.
If you only stay at the base, you can still soak the idyllic atmosphere at the many enchanting waterfalls such as Tiu Kelep, Mangku Sakti, and Sendang Gile.
Local Mountain Men on Lombok Island
The hike up Gunung Rinjani isn’t terribly difficult, although traversing the soft sands closer to the peak can prove challenging. With each forward step, the ground parts under your weight the longer you stay still. Consequently, you might get the feeling that you slide downhill 2 or 3 steps for every 1 uphill step.
Thankfully, porters can be hired to lighten your load on the trip up. In any case, authorities only sanction guided trips and every expedition is accompanied by several porters to carry heavy sleeping and cooking gear. These tough mountain men make the ascent seem like a walk in the park as the bound up and down the slopes in nothing more than flip flops on their feet and burdensome loads up to 20kgs or sometimes more.
At base camp, about 3/4 of the way up, these amazing athletes will even set up your tent and make dinner – all you have to do it lie back, sit back and wait to be served.
The Final Assault
The best part of the journey is reserved for the second day of a typical 2 day program. Setting off in the small hours of morning, it’s still pitch black when we have to quickly get up, get dressed and get on the trail. Dawn will break in the final mile of the hike and what a gorgeous sight it is.
Lombok island was made for watching rise and set – the haunting hues and dramatic views will leave a lasting impression. At the very top, there is a perpetual crowd of elated hikers snapping pictures. The jaw dropping views, a selfie ora jump shot – everything is fair game.
If you like the outdoors, great food, rich culture, Lombok island should be on your travel map. It is accessible by direct flights from Singapore via Silkair and Airasia or by domestic airplane routes from Jakarta.