In Lombok, after a long drive to Senaru village base camp with the coastline to our left, en route Senggigi, we met up with Hermann and Adi. Adi was our trekking guide. A nice skinny chap and particularly huge SRK fan.We began our trek of Mt.Rinjani in the morning, which is an active volcano mountain which has a huge crater lake at the summit. A 9.2 km trek to Senaru crater rim, it was a moderately challenging climb in tropical weather which got a bit tougher once it started raining in the early evening. We had 4 stop points, pos1, poos2, pos3 and pos4, evenly distributed at distances to around 1.5-2 km. Our trekking group had 5 porters who were carrying huge loads which had all the food items and the tents and they were climbing barefoot and faster than us. Admirable. There were also some very smart dogs which did the trek with us knowing they'd get food at every stop of ours. Looks like it is their way of life now. There were many other trekkers from different countries and it was nice mingling with them too.The terrain got tougher for the last 1-2 km when the visibility was poor and the rocks were slippery. We were given some raincoats like the ones we wore as kids. The conditions caused me some anxiety because it was getting dark and the guys still weren't home yet. Adi was with them the whole time and ensured everything was OK. The joy of having completed this trek and sitting around with friends, the camaraderie, the jokes, was what this travel was all about. A remarkable midnight star gazing adventure was also on the menu and it had me shivering for most of the night.Unfortunately for us, the weather played spoilsport and the fog didn't settle till almost 8 am in the morning for us to get a good look at the crater lake and left us a bit disappointed. We tried to delay going down but we had a flight to Bali in the evening and it was a long drive to the airport. One of our friends struggled while descending and we had to slow down to be with him. At one point, it started pouring and we still had a couple of km to go and were fast running out of time. We finally made it down and Hermann was waiting with his moped. I had a good Rinjani running experience chasing them. Our driver was fast enough to get us on time to the airport. We picked up some Rotio snack in the airport for our hungry tummies.
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.