Island destinations in Southeast Asia are primarily popular for their beaches, coral reefs and warm tropical sun. The island of Lombok, however, has a lot more to offer. If you wish to have an equally engaging island activity while staying dry, trekking in Lombok will truly satisfy. Lombok is home to Mount Rinjani, a looming active volcano, which offers a 3,700-meter challenge to all visiting trekkers and mountain climbers. This one is not an easy climb and so it is reserved only to the experienced, truly adventurous and physically fit.
Trekking along the foot of Mount Rinjani all the way to the peak takes a challenging but fun-filled three days. There are more than 20 traditional villages to see and a dozen routes to choose from for climbing up. The most common routes are the access from Senaru to the north and Sembalun Lawang to the east. Those who aim for the peak typically begin the climb from Sembalun Lawang. Meanwhile, considered by many to be the best trek in all of Southeast Asia is the one that begins in Senaru going to the crater rim, down to the picturesque crater lake, then finally descending to Sembalun Lawang. Senaru, the gateway town to Mount Rinjani, is also a tourist destination in itself. Visitors might consider lingering here for a while to visit its amazing waterfalls, spectacular scenery and welcoming traditional villages.
Leading and monitoring the world-class trek to Lombok’s highest peak is the Rinjani Trek Centre that was established by the Indonesian Government with the help of the New Zealand Government in 1999. Today, the all-important Rinjani mountain environment is being protected by the Gunung Rinjani National Park, Lombok’s tourism industry and local communities. Mount Rinjani is a candidate natural park for the UNESCO World Geopark sites. If granted this prestigious citation, Rinjani could become Indonesia’s first and only geopark.
The national park protects several endangered animal and plant species that trekkers hope to see on the mountain. The rare Lutungs or black ebony leaf monkeys sometimes show themselves early in the morning. There are also Keras or long-tailed grey macaques that are normally spotted near the crater rim. Normally seen on the trek trail are the forest dwelling Rusa deer, palm civet, and porcupine, and heard are the wild alarm calls of the Kijangs or barking deer. Trekkers must also be quick to see colorful birds flying over them, such as the sulfur-crested cockatoo, and rare insects on the ground and trees.
Trekking in Lombok is primarily about scaling Mount Rinjani. The park requires an admission fee of Rp 150,000 for the maintenance and management of the park, as well as the protection of the plants and animals. The park provides well trained and highly experienced guides and porters for the challenging 3-day trek. Trekkers must be well equipped with safety gadgets and gears. This adventure is clearly not for the faint of heart. The paths could be steep, slippery and muddy, plus considering the fact that Mount Rinjani is an active volcano. Its last eruption was recorded on October 2004.