Top Places To Visit in Nusa Tenggara Barat
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About Nusa Tenggara Barat
Most islands in Nusa Tengarra are rarely visited, with a slight exception of Flores and Lombok. So, expect endless diving and white-sand beaches as perfect as possible.Lombok in Nusa Tengarru is the gateway to eastern Indonesia and is a relatively chill escape from the jaded Bali scene. There is frequent ferry connectivity from Padang Bai in Bali to Lembar (4-5 hours). There's also an airport, with great flight connectivity to most of Indonesia. Gili Islands are also nearby and are increasingly becoming a backpacker favourite, again especially for those looking for an alternative to Bali.Other great islands in Nusa Tengarra: West Timor, Sawu Islands, Sumbawa (especially for surfers) and the Alor archipelago.
Nusa Tenggara Barat
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Mount Rinjani is the flag-bearer of Lombok’s tourism. I had picked a 3D2N tour from Ecco Tours –Wayan Nate. He was of terrific help on the night I reached Lombok and was always available in case of a trouble during my trip. It was an early start on the first day to the base camp which is a 2 hrs drive from Sengiggi. There are two start points to the trek, Senaru and Sembalun. Ours started from Sembalun, which houses the official Rinjani Information Centre.The initial part of the ascent is more of walking and you will come across many groups on your way. August is a busy month for trekking Rinjani. It is important that you are trained for ascending non-stop so that you are not stranded while panting. The climb until lunch is not too strenuous and the break is important to regroup since the next fraction of the trek only stops when you reach the crater which is your camping spot for the night. This part will be very challenging but the very first sight you catch of the mighty Rinjani – you will be smitten! Reaching the crater, you are in awe of being above the clouds. The Rinjani range on one side and the calm Segara Anak lake on the other. Catch the sunset here while preparing the camp; we call it a night at 7PM. Be warned that the temperatures sink as night dawns and the winds will not let you sleep. But hey, how often do you get to sleep under the stars aka bintang!?“Hello” says our guide at 2:30AM, it is super chilly in the tent. Getting in the open will require multiple layers from head to toe. After a quick tea, we make our way. The first look towards the summit and you realise you are under an endless blanket of stars, it is a moment to behold. The moon shines bright as we make our way over the notorious volcanic rocks under torch lights. In the first 30 minutes of the climb, I wanted to give up. But my guide dragged me on and I am indebted to him for that. Slow climbs and the horizon starts turning crimson. I was now gritty to pick up speed and catch the sunrise at the summit. I catch the sun rising while still climbing and the summit is still about 1.5 kms away. I have to get to the top; I push myself at snail’s speed against the slayer winds while many who have summit make their way down. Later, somewhere around 500m to the summit, my guide says that time is short and we need to descend. It aches even now that I could not summit but that moment was everything I could have wanted. Being at that windy altitude with the sun and the moon in concert above you over that deadly rock face was nothing short of a feat. That’s when Rinjani thought me (a go-getter) to lose over its might!Back at the base camp, we wind up the tents and descend for the hot springs. Passing by the calm Segara Anak lake; the hot springs are a must visit, to relax and loosen those muscles after all that hiking. Some groups camp/ swim around the lake. It is a pretty spot to capture the landscape surrounding baby volcano Mt. Barujari.
My favorite place was Pink Beach. It’s named for the sand, literally pink, caused by red coral washing up and being ground by the constant pressure of the tide and the waves. Snorkeling here was the best I have ever experienced and yet it isn’t even the best in Indonesia. From a cliff above the beach I surveyed our paradise and thought again about life, how glad I was to be alive; how alive I felt being so enveloped in nature, without cares and worries to distract me from the beauty. For as long as we could we bobbed and swam and floated in the beautiful water, appreciating the bounty of life and the gift of another day. None of us know how long we are guaranteed and the blessing of being able to spend a few days living in the Komodo Islands may be one of the greatest I have ever had, one of those experiences after which one tends to say, mostly joking, “I can die happy.”
The 2nd base camp, we ascend to the crater of Mt. Baru which is some 3000 mts. Gosh! Too much hiking for the past 24hours. This one was a lot of rock climbing and dangerous too. Reaching the camp, the view is enchanting and the winds; chilly. You can spot the 3 Gili islands and Bali too! The bintang make the night shine with the cool breeze. Next morning is all descend and back to base camp.Part 2 – There’s never enough beaching!
Lombok International Airport
Getting there and connectivity–Lombok has an international airport but direct flights are not as frequent; Jakarta being a connecting terminal. From the airport to the city, you could take up a bus or taxi. While leaving the airport, you will come across a bus ticketing counter. In case you are headed to Senggigi, do not take the bus. Hire a taxi and make sure you bargain for a fixed amount. While in the city, you can hire a bike for easy travel.Part 1 of the trip – The Summit!
Next, Kuta beach- all the way to the south of Lombok. I take a pit stop at the famous Pura Meru, but find it disappointing. It is an ancient temple but there is not much that meets the eye. At Kuta, I lodge at one of the many BNB options. Kuta boasts of some beautiful beaches scattered across its arch including the secret pink beach. Exploring Kuta needs about a week and a local guide. Since it was my final night in Lombok, I head to the main Kuta beach to take in the view with sand in my feet. It’s a quiet non-commercial beach with eroding rocks. Over dinner, I met a dozen foreigners who were setting up businesses from teaching yoga to surfing. They were the ones who’d only do what they love. It was a good end to the trip to see this freshness in objective.