Mount Rinjani or Gunung Rinjani is easily the most spectacular attraction in the island of Lombok since nothing is taller than this 3,726-meter high volcano, the second tallest volcano in all of Indonesia. It is an active volcano whose last eruption was in October 2004. For this reason, the Gunung Rinjani Observation Post in the village of Lawang is keeping a close watch since Mount Rinjani, although dangerously active, is still a leading tourist destination.
Rinjani tourism is growing since trekkers and hikers are still allowed to climb all the way up to the crater. Also on top of the volcano is a 6-km wide caldera, which contains hot springs with some of its parts now partially filled by the water coming from the crater lake, Segara Anak (“Child of the Sea”). The crater lake is 2,000 meters above sea level and is estimated to be about 200 meters deep. Expert trekkers and mountaineers just love visiting these intriguing yet dangerous volcanic features.
It takes an expert climber to scale Mount Rinjani. Even the toughest mountaineer ends up huffing and puffing at the summit. The climb involves a hike through a savanna, forest area, river, sandy trek and huge rocks. Somewhere in the middle is a lake camp area where trekkers could take a break if they were not in a hurry. As the path begins to rise, the trail gets very steep and slippery. It also gets very cold near the peak. When it rains, the path turns into a muddy river. It is very important to climb with a team of experienced mountain climbers led by an official guide who knows detours and shorter treks.
Before the climb, trekkers must make sure to have enough clothes for the hike, wrap the extra clothes in waterproof containers, waterproof jogging pants to keep the legs warm, extra socks, windbreaker, rain coat, scarf (to protect against dust), hat, gloves, and definitely a flashlight. The trek typically starts at 2:00 a.m.
It is impossible to climb Mount Rinjani without the help of a local guide or official tour operator. There are several operators or agencies in the capital city of Mataram or the tourist hub in Senggigi. There are also a number of local guides upon entering the park. A climb costs about US$200-300. The only downside to the climb (other than it being so difficult) is the presence of scattered pieces of trash along the trail.
Nominated as a UNESCO World Geopark, Mount Rinjani and its surrounding areas are now protected by the Gunung Rinjani National Park. Established in 1997, this 41-hectare wide park consists of mountains, waterfalls and a rainforest. The park is home to a number of endangered animals such as the Rusa deer, Indian muntja, Surili monkeys, Sunda porcupine, helmeted friarbird, and scaly-crowned honeyeater, as well as rare plants such as the big leaf mahogany, Vanda orchid, and pearly everlasting. In 2005 and 2008, Mount Rinjani was a finalist for the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, and in 2004 a recipient of the World Legacy Award from Conservation International and Traveler.