|Elevation||3,726 m (12,224 ft) |
|Prominence||3,726 m Ranked 39th|
Mount Rinjani or Gunung Rinjani is an active volcano in Indonesia on the island of Lombok. It rises to 3,726 metres (12,224 ft), making it the second highest volcano in Indonesia, and similar in height to Mount Fuji. The first historical eruption occurred in September 1847. The most recent eruption of Mount Rinjani was on 10 May 2009. The volcano had started erupting again on 27 April 2009, and the mountain was closed as the eruptions intensified with plumes of smoke and ash as high as 8,000 m (26,250 ft).
The 6 km by 8.5 km oval-shaped caldera is filled partially by a crater lake known as Segara Anak ('Child of the Sea') and is approximately 2000m above sea level and estimated at being around 200m deep); the caldera also contains hot springs. The eruptions of 1994, 1995, and 1996 have formed a small cone, Gunung Baru (or 'New Mountain' - approximately 2300m above sea level) in the center of the caldera and lava flows from these eruptions have entered the lake. This cone has since been renamed Mount Barujari (or 'New Finger').
The highlands are forest clad and mostly undeveloped. The lowlands are highly cultivated. Rice, soybeans, coffee, tobacco, cotton, cinnamon, and vanilla are the major crops grown in the fertile soils of the island.
The volcano and the caldera are protected by the Gunung Rinjani National Park established in 1997. Tourism is increasingly popular  with trekkers able to visit the rim, make their way into the caldera or even to make the more arduous climb to the highest point; fatalities, however, are not uncommon. As of July 2009 the summit route was closed due to volcanic activity.
Color infrared view of Rinjani Volcano, May 1992
Map of volcanoes in Indonesia
Within its huge 50 square kilometre caldera sits the crater lake Segara Anak (Child of the Sea). Recent eruptions have formed a new small cone called appropriately, Gunung Baru (New Mountain).
The mountain and its satellites form the Mount Rinjani National Park (Taman Nasional Gunung Rinjani) - officially 41,000 hectares within the park boundaries and a further 66,000 hectares of protected forest outside.
In 2008, the Indonesian government proposed to UNESCO that Mount Rinjani be one of the world's official geoparks. If this was approved by UNESCO, Mount Rinjani would become the first such geological park in Indonesia.
This is a very active volcano.
The oldest recorded historical eruption was in 1847. Previous to that this was a very remote region indeed, hence the lack of records.
There was a spate of activity from 1994 to 1996 which resulted in the growth of the crater cone Gunung Baru. The most recent serious eruptive activity was in May 2009 when the summit was closed to trekkers. The ascent routes re-opened on September 14th 2009 but hiking down into the crater lake is still deemed unsafe due to activity from Gunung Baru and routes remain closed.
The lower and mid levels of the mountain are quite heavily forested. Above the tree line though the slopes are barren and rugged scree slopes and volcanic rock. The views of the crater lake are quite breath-taking from the caldera rim, as is the sunrise. From the absolute peak you can see Bali to the west and Sumbawa to the east.
The lower and middle elevation slopes are densely forested with typical tropical species. Fig trees are especially apparent. Casuarina forest (cemara) takes over higher up and eventually these give way to an alpine flora above the treeline.
Lombok is east of the Wallacean Line and some Australian bird species are therefore apparent. These include a lot of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and Green Hanging Parrots. Bird life is generally not easy to observe here though due to the density of the forest.
The familiar long-tailed grey macaque (the Bali temple monkey!) is common right up to the crater rim. Of much more interest is the rare ebony leaf monkey which inhabits these forests. Rusa deer and muntjacs are more often heard than seen.
Rinjani is best climbed during the April-November dry season. It is possible to climb during the rainy season as well but treks are often cancelled at short notice if the rain is heavy.
It gets very cold on the mountain above 2,000 metres and nears freezing at the summit. Warm clothing is an absolute must.
Most visitors arrive via the village of Senaru (600m), on the northern side of the mountain and thus closer to the main resort area of Senggigi. The other possible entry point is Sembalun Lawang (1,150m), on the eastern side, which is closer to the summit.
Both villages are accessed from the main north coast road.
Entry to the park costs Rp 150,000 per person. This fee is split up as follows: 13% to the national park authority, 62% to the Rinjani ecotourism trekking program and 25% for trek route maintenance etc.
Within the park the only way to get around is to hike. Porters can be arranged to carry your supplies.
At 3,726 metres, Rinjani is the second highest mountain in Indonesia outside of Papua. It is very climbable by visitors with a high level of physical fitness. Critical is to understand and respect this great mountain: sadly, visitors have died here through failing to follow sensible procedures and make all necessary preparations.
Few actually make the very strenuous effort required to reach the actual summit but instead stop at the crater rim (approx 2,700 m) where the views of the crater lake are mind blowing. To make the extra 1,000 metre ascent to the very top requires a considerably higher level of fitness, not to mention strength of spirit and sense of adventure.
Typically, a trek to the crater rim involves two days and one night on the mountain. The longer ascent to the summit can be done with just one night's camping but is often part of a longer trek of four days and three nights.
There are essentially two ways to approach the climb – semi-independently with a private guide or as part of an organised trek. It is extremely inadvisable (if not impossible and illegal) to climb Rinjani without the services of a professional guide. An organized trek is by far the easiest and safest option but it is perfectly possible to make all of your own arrangements and just hire a guide and equipment from one of the trekking centres on the mountain.
Proper sturdy climbing/hiking boots are an absolute necessity as is a substantial windproof jacket and a head lamp. Air temperatures towards the summit are as low as 4°C, often with a significant extra wind chill factor. You must prepare accordingly.
At times it seems that everyone in Lombok is a trekking guide for Mount Rinjani, especially on the main tourist strip in Senggigi. Take most of what you are told with a pinch of salt and find experienced, reputable guides either via an approved organisation or at the main trekking centres at Senaru and Sembalun Lawang.
Guide fees are a movable feast and generally negotiable. Ignore anybody who tells you that the rates are officially set by the park authority. A sensible price range would be:
These will vary though according to how busy the guides are and how many people are in your party. Be sensible and do not be too tight.
The following all offer organised treks with accommodation, transport etc and can also help with hiring a private guide:
This is by far the most used route as it allows the (relatively) less strenuous trek to the crater rim only. You start at an elevation of 600 metres in Senaru village, normally in the late morning or early afternoon and make the 6 hour ascent to the crater rim before dark. The route passes through POSII at 1,500 m, breaches the treeline at 2,000m (POSIII) and then it is a bit of slog up gravel paths to the camp site just below the crater rim at 2,600m. Wake before dawn to make the 20 to 30 minute final climb to the crater rim to enjoy sunrise and the iconic view across Segara Anak to Gunung Baru.
If that has not sapped all of your energy you can then make a very precarious descent down to shores of the crater lake and bath in the hot waters. You need some confidence to do this as it is a steep descent of 600+ metres using handrails and ropes.
And then it is back to Senaru the way you came.
There is an option to go on to Plawangan II where you overnight again before making the ascent to the aboslute summit. This is not especially recommended from the Senaru side though. If you want to get to the top, the climb to Plawangan II is best made from Sambulan Lawang.
Starting in the morning from the Rinjani Trek Centre in the village, the climb to Plawangan II at 2,638m will take about 8 hours via POSI (1,300M), POSII (1,500m) and POSIII (1,800m). Overnight at the campsite here and go for the summit starting at 3.00AM the next day. You need to be well rested as this is a stiff task - the final climb is nearly 1,100 metres on difficult ground.
Serious trekkers should explore the options of staying on the mountain for 3 nights or more with a planned trek that takes in the crater rim, down to the lake shore, the absolute summit and more. Such treks can start in either Senaru or Sambulan Lawang.
You do not have to climb Mount Rinjani to enjoy the splendours of the national park. Indeed unless you really think that you are physically capable it would be foolhardy to even try. You will find plenty of guides in either Senaru or Sembalun Lawang to suggest lower level treks through beautiful valleys.
In and around Sembalun Lawang you will have the opportunity to purchase unique and high quality hand woven cloth.
If you are trekking outside of an organised group, you should carry in all necessary food for your trek. Fresh fruit and high energy foods are especially appropriate. If you are planning to make the ascent to the absolute summit try to carry a special food item with you for celebrating your achievement of reaching the top.
Trekking packages usually include food which is carried and prepared by the porters.
There are simple restaurants at the lodges in Senaru and Sembalun Lawang.
If you are trekking independently, stock up with some liquids at Senaru or Sembalun Lawang. A flask of hot tea or coffee is very appropriate.
There are a lot of fresh springs on both routes and these determine the siting of the campsites. You therefore do not need to carry large quantities of water with you. The springs can run a little dry sometimes but all guides should know the status of each spring beforehand.
There is no lodging in the park itself, but some simple paces to stay can be found at Senaru & Sembalun Lawang.
Camping is possible at designated rest shelter areas on the ascent routes and at the crater rim.
Rinjani is high enough that altitude sickness is a concern. Be aware of the symptoms and treatment.
It is also very cold up on the summit (4 to 5°C), so warm, windproof clothes are a must as are appropriate hiking boots and a head lamp. The sun can be very strong during the day and severe sunburn is a risk.
This is a very active volcano. Always be aware of the current assessment of eruptive activity.
Make sure that your guide is carrying a radio with him and that it is fully charging and working. A test call to the trek centre is advisable. The trek centre has a satelite telephone (086812104132) and it can be used by visitors - ask to see the chart of charges.
|This is a guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information including hotels, restaurants, attractions, arrival and departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!|