Mt Rinjani, Sembalunlawang, Aikmel, East Lombok Regency, Indonesia
On Wednesday, Abi and I set off to Lombok to join a group of expat hiking enthusiasts called Java Lava. Abi is Laura's flatmate, and as this was a 4 day weekend (Ascension I think), she convinced me to join her on this trip as Laura was going on a detox retreat in Thailand. The destination was Rinjani, the second highest volcano in Indonesia at 3726m.
I had to invest in proper equipment as we were warned that it would be cold, and difficult. Armed with warm clothes, gloves and walking sticks, we set off on Thursday to meet our fellow 22 expats who joined. The group was a mix of ages and nationalities, up to someone in his 70s we think, all incredibly enthusiast and very able indeed.
The hike was organised via a local operator, John's adventures, who took care of everything. Porters and guides outnumbered us, and we only had to carry a daypack as the rest was carried for us. We stayed in basic rooms the first night and left at 8 am the second day, hiking from 1100m to 2800m where we slept on the ridge. Very excited when we stopped for lunch and realised they were not only carrying tents, sleeping bags, our bags and cooking for us, but also that they had brought folding chairs for everyone of us and served tea or hot chocolate! How civilised indeed. With my walking stick I had a sense of colonialism that I must confess I enjoyed...
The next day early start at 3 am to climb to the top, another 1000m or so. We felt the cold and the last 200m are a mix of sand and rocks not too dissimilar to Merapi, if only longer , a tough scramble indeed. The views at the top of spectacular as clouds slowly rise from the valley. Rinjani has a crater lake surrounded by mountains and we could fully appreciate its majesty. We then walked all the way down to the lake, probably back to 1500m, and hiked back up on the other side to 2400m or so (I know, why?). A long day but then again a stunning view from the other side of the lake which made it worthwhile. We spent our 2nd and last night on a small cosy ridge and set off the next day to arrive back down early afternoon.
Our last evening was spent in a luxury hotel on the beach, we had dinner and an early rise to sunbathe, enjoy a swing chairs bar, and a game of giant chess. We regretted we had to go that day, especially as every step was painful. Going up and downstairs in particular gave us a taste of what old age will be like...
Hoping to go to the Sumatran jungle this week before i go to meet Nick in Phuket end of next week.