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A Beginner's Guide to Climbing Mount Rinjani | Ummi Goes Where?

Beginner's Guide to Mount Rinjani Lombok - Best Volcano to Climb in Indonesia

Mount Rinjani is an active volcano on the island of Lombok (to the east of Bali), Indonesia. Measuring 3,726 meters (12,224 ft) high from sea level, it is the second highest volcano in Indonesia after Mount Kerinci.

But what this volcano is most popular for is its massive 6-by-8.5-kilometer (3.7 by 5.3 mi) caldera, which is partially filled by a sapphire-blue lake called Segara Anak. The lake is so wide that it actually has another small volcano in its center.

At approximately 2,003 meters (6,572 ft) above sea level, this is the world’s highest caldera lake with an active volcano in it. It is estimated to be about 200 meters (656 ft) deep.

Like most other Rinjani hikers, the lake was the main reason I climbed this mountain. I’m the sort who would only climb anything if I knew the view was going to be worth it.

Lombok International Airport
Credit: Herryz / Wikimedia Commons

Lombok is served by Lombok International Airport (airport code: LOP). I was lucky because there were direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Lombok, but if you can’t fly directly there, your next best option is to transit in Jakarta, Bali, or Surabaya. Or you can take the 4-to-5-hour boat ride from Bali to Lombok.

Once you reach Lombok, you won’t have any problem booking a tour to climb Mount Rinjani. You can find tour agents pretty much everywhere, if not at your hotel concierge. I stayed in Senggigi, which is one of the busiest tourist spots on the island.

There is no public transport going to Mount Rinjani. If you plan to go independently, you’ll either have to self-drive or hire a driver.

The Best Time to Climb Mt Rinjani

Mount Rinjani trails are closed to the public from 1st January to 31st March every year due to the monsoon season, which usually brings heavy torrents of rain, making the trails too dangerous for climbers.

I climbed in September and it rained just as we were about to reach the campsite at the crater rim. It was not heavy but enough to make our clothes damp and freeze our butts off at night.

April to June is considered the best time to climb Mount Rinjani as it is the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the hiking season. July and August are the peak period, which will often see a surge of hikers. September through December is also a good time to go.

Choosing the Rinjani Route: Senaru or Sembalun?

There are two different routes you can choose when climbing Mount Rinjani: Senaru and Sembalun, each one on a different side of the mountain.


The Sembalun route will take you through mostly flat grasslands to the base of the summit. Therefore, it is said to be easier than Senaru. The only downside to this route is that you would be exposed to the hot sun the whole time, so make sure that you bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen if you choose this route.

Sembalun Lawang, Rinjani
Sembalun Lawang. Credit: Tanti Ruwani / Wikimedia Commons


The Senaru route features a steeper non-stop climb through a rainforest and some rocky terrain in the last leg. The plus side is it is shadier and — if you prefer rainforests to grasslands — more beautiful. Aesthetically speaking, I think I would have preferred Sembalun over Senaru, as I don’t get to see many grasslands back home.

Senaru gate Mount Rinjani
My hiking partner and me at Senaru Gate.

Some tour operators only offer one option. Some can take you up one route and down the other. So, check carefully before you book. You also have the option to choose whether to climb to the summit or only to the crater rim.

If you’re not sure, it is better to choose the crater rim, and then add some money if you do decide to go to the summit after all. That’s usually easier than asking for a refund if you booked a summit climb only to change your mind later.

I took the Senaru route because that was what was offered to me by the tour agent. And I chose to climb only to the crater rim, as you could see the lake better from there than from the summit. It’s all about the view for me.

How Much Does It Cost to Climb Rinjani?

Naturally, it varies from one company to another, but there are also other factors that determine the price, such as the number of people in your group, the route you choose, the duration of the tour, and the attractions you want to visit. A 2D1N climbing package via Senaru can cost anywhere between USD 150 and USD 200.

In general, you get what you pay for. If you find a company that offers an incredibly cheap price, be wary and check carefully what’s included and not included in the package.

I booked with Perama Tour & Travel, an award-winning tour company that has been providing travel services since 1969 (previously known as Perama Travel Club). Their current rate for a 2D1N Rinjani package to the crater rim via Senaru is IDR 2,500,000 (USD 170) per person (min 2 persons).

The fee includes:

  • Return transfer to and from your hotel in an air-conditioned coach
  • Trekking guide
  • Porters
  • 3 meals per day during the trek
  • 2L drinking water/day, soft drinks, and snacks
  • Trekking gear (tent, sleeping bag, mattress, pillow, chair, toilet tent)
  • Entrance fee
  • Insurance

The fee excludes:

  • Personal expenses
  • Tip for the crew

Do check their website for more information on the packages offered.

What to Pack for Mount Rinjani

  • A good pair of hiking shoes. If this is your first time hiking, make sure you break in your shoes before the climb. And no, regular sneakers won’t do.
  • Hiking sticks. These really help. Don’t let yourself think that they are only for old people with walking difficulties.
  • Breathable T-shirts. It can be hot at the lower altitudes, so you want something light that you can layer up when the temperature drops.
  • Long trek pants, preferably windproof.
  • Windproof jacket and raincoat
  • A spare set of clothes, including undergarments and socks, in case the ones you have on get wet. To reduce weight, I wore the same clothes for both days, but if you like, you can wear a different set for night time and the next day.
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Flip flops to wear at the campsite, when you need to go to the toilet, or if you decide to make a side trip to a waterfall.
  • Headlamp or flashlight, if your tour operator doesn’t provide any.
  • Sunblock with at least SPF 50. This is especially important in the tropics, and high up on a mountain, where the sun is stronger.
  • Insect repellent. I personally didn’t get bitten by any insects during the entire trip, but I know some people who attract mosquitoes like magnets, so if you’re one of those unfortunate people, be sure to have some repellent with you.
  • Toiletries.
  • Towel. A microfiber towel would be the perfect choice for hiking or travel, as it is lightweight, easy to dry, and doesn’t take up much space in your backpack.
  • Plasters/Band-Aids for minor cuts or blisters.
  • Medicine. Don’t forget all your regular medicines, and some preventative ones like paracetamol in case of altitude sickness (I didn’t experience any, but different people react differently to altitude).
  • High-calorie and high-protein snacks, like chocolate, cereal bars, and trail mix. The meals provided by your tour operator can keep you full, but it’s good to have some spare, to give you an extra boost.
  • Hand sanitizer/wet wipes. There will be no running water up there, and you don’t want to waste your drinking water for washing hands or toilet purposes. Most tour operators provide toilet paper.
  • Electronics – camera, phone, powerbank, and anything you might need. But I suggest bringing as few as you can, because when you’re climbing a mountain, every single gram counts.
  • A plastic trash bag to keep your trash in. You all know the rule: leave nothing but footprints.

    What to Expect on a Rinjani Hike

    Day 1

    The driver will pick you up at your hotel at 04.00 – 04.30 a.m. for a direct transfer to Senaru village or Sembalun. In my case, it was Senaru. I slept most of the way to the village. As we were approaching Senaru, I could already see the summit peeking from between the clouds.

    After that, it was check in and a breakfast of banana pancakes.

    Climbing Mount Rinjani - breakfast
    A breakfast of banana pancakes and hot tea before the hike.
    I met my guide and porters, and was given a visitor’s tag to be worn around my neck. Then, we made our way to the Senaru Trail Gate. Along the way, my guide found a stick for me to use as a hiking stick. It must have been left behind by a previous climber. I didn’t come to Lombok to climb a mountain, so I didn’t bring any hiking gear.
    Rinjani rainforest
    In the rainforest of Mount Rinjani
    The first hours of the climb took us through a dense rainforest. It was a nice balance between steep slopes and some level areas, so we were able to catch our breaths.

    As a rule, the guide would stay behind to assist the slowest participant. Since my friend was slightly slower than me, he stayed with her while I went on ahead. The trail was pretty clear — there were no forked paths — that even someone as foggy-brained as I was wouldn’t get lost.

    We took about 5 hours before reaching Post II, where we had our lunch of rice, fried chicken, an apple, and fruit juice. By that time, the temperature had dropped, the surrounding was quite misty, and there were fewer trees.

    View on Mount Rinjani
    Our lunch view.

    It’s important not to stop for too long at every rest stop, so right after lunch, we continued on our way to our campsite. The location of your night camp depends on weather conditions and your fitness level. If you’re not able to make it to the crater rim on the first day, you would camp in the forest at Post III (Mondokan Lolak) at 2000m.

    We continued our ascent for another couple of hours through grassy meadows and made it to the crater rim at the height of 2,641m. As we were about to arrive, it started to drizzle. That, and the heavy mist that had been clouding our path since the past hour, made our clothes all damp.

    Thankfully, we saw that our porters were already waiting for us with our tents and hot meals ready.

    In a tent on Mount Rinjani
    In the tent.
    Toilet was an upright tent, about the size of a small changing room, with a hole in the ground. As we were both scaredy cats, one of us had to stand guard outside while the other went in to do her business.
    It got dark very fast on the mountain. And it was still drizzling outside anyway, so we had nothing better to do than sleep all our aches away. The tent seemed to have been set up just a few meters from the edge of the cliff, but we couldn’t have cared less. With our wet clothes bundled in one corner of the tent, we zipped ourselves up in the sleeping bags and endured a fitful sleep.

    Day 2

    Day 2 brought some sunshine, although it was still freezing cold to me. We woke up to steaming cups of hot tea brought to our tent.

    Both my friend and I had initially planned to wake up earlier to see the sunrise, and we did wake up as planned. But one peek at the freezing darkness outside and we decided to go back to the cozy comfort of our sleeping bags. If you’re going to climb to the summit, you’d have to start from here at 2 a.m., in time to catch sunrise at the peak. Good luck!

    After the tea had warmed us enough, we finally stepped out of our tents and were immediately greeted by a most spectacular view of the lake. We hadn’t seen it the night before as it was covered with mist.

    Having hot tea on Mount Rinjani
    Enjoying our tea.

    If you book a 3D2N trip, you would go down to the lakeside and camp there for the night.

    Thanks to the volcanic activity inside the lake, the water has a temperature of around 22 degrees Celsius, which is about 7 degrees warmer than the surrounding temperature, so you could actually enjoy a warm bath in there!

    It sounded tempting, but this view from the crater rim was what I had come here for. I didn’t need to go swim in the lake to appreciate its beauty.

    By 8 a.m., our porters had started to pack. We would be beginning our descent.

    The first part of the descent was quite treacherous. The volcanic sands and rocks made it so easy for us to slip. I’m scared of heights, and going downhill is always a challenge for me to begin with. The guide had to hold my hand, and even then, we still slipped a few times. Once we reached the rainforest, it was much easier.’

    We had our lunch at Post I. After 6 hours from the crater rim, the trek ended at Rinjani Trekking Center Office at Senaru. A car was waiting to take us to our next destination: Bangsal Jetty, where we were to continue our journey to Gili Trawangan.

    Rinjani mountain guides
    A photo with the crew.

    How Tough is Climbing Rinjani?

    I wouldn’t consider myself a super fit or sporty person. In fact, I hate sports or any kind of workout.

    But Rinjani wasn’t my first mountain. Just several weeks before Rinjani, I had climbed Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Malaysia at 4,095 meters above sea level, which is 368 meters higher than Rinjani.

    To compare the two, I think they are both challenging in their own ways. Kinabalu consists mostly of concrete and wooden stairs (except the last part), which technically means anyone can climb it if they know how to climb stairs. But climbing those hard surfaces for two days in a row can be tough on your feet and legs.

    Misty grasslands on Mount Rinjani
    The misty grasslands.

    Rinjani, on the other hand, feels more like real hiking, where you’ll be walking on grass and soil and stepping over tree roots. In a way, I found it less taxing than Kinabalu, except for the part just before the crater rim, where the grassy meadows gives way to a sandy and rocky terrain.

    Then again, I didn’t climb to the summit, so I can’t really comment on that. Most people say it’s much harder as the trail is very steep and made up of soft volcanic sand. On average, only 25% of hikers make it all the way to the top.

    If you’ve never climbed a mountain but are a fairly fit person, I’d say you have a pretty good chance of making it to the crater rim, if not the summit. However, to make it easier on your body, try to do more cardio and leg training at least a few weeks before your trip.

    If there are no hiking trails near your house to practice at, try climbing up and down stairs with a backpack on, but be careful not to overwork yourself, especially so close to your Rinjani trip.

    Dirty sneakers on Rinjani
    Our dirty sneakers.

    Additional Tips for Climbing Rinjani

    • The porters will only be carrying food, drinks, trekking gear, and cooking utensils. You will have to carry your personal belongings yourself. So, make sure you pack light. Think many, many times, before you put any non-essential item into your backpack.
    • Most climb packages have a minimum requirement of 2 persons per booking. If you’re a solo traveler, you’re going to have to find someone to pair up with. Try asking anyone at your hostel or you might have to pay for two.
    • Wear proper hiking shoes/boots with good traction. I can’t stress this enough. If they’re a new pair, make sure they’re broken in before your trip.
    • Keep yourself hydrated and protected from the sun. The cold temperature can easily make you forget to drink water and put on sunscreen.
    • If you didn’t bring a hiking stick, look for one at the beginning of the trail, where somebody might have discarded theirs.
    • The guide will mostly be assisting the slowest participant. Faster participants can go ahead with the porter(s).
    • Decision to change the itinerary will be based on the majority of your group members.
    • Beware of wild boars.
    Lake Segara Anak Rinjani
    The view was worth it.

    Get a Travel Insurance

    As with any activity, especially one as adventurous as mountain climbing, there are risks involved. But not all travel insurances cover high-risk activities. If you’re looking for a comprehensive travel insurance to take with you on Rinjani, look no further than WorldNomads, which is highly recommended among adventurous travelers worldwide.

    Best of all, it is very affordable and you can even buy it when you’re already traveling.

    Have you climbed any mountain in Indonesia? Share your experience in the comments section below.

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    1. bae roslan

      rindunyaa nak hiking. if its indonesia, I pernah hike Sibayak Mount. Rinjani for sure in the wish list but only when I complete G11.

    2. Tekkaus

      You guys seemed to really had a great time albeit being a bit exhausted. I could see that you guys were happy to conquer the summit. Thanks for including the prices of the expedition as well.

    3. Min

      Wah memang best ye bila ada pengalaman mcm ni. Best sangat kan..sejak pkpb dh sebulan tak kuar utk aktiviti travel (dlm negara) yg oversea jgn cakap laaa..dah berabuk passport haha..

    4. Fadima Mooneira

      Wow……sometimes I do envy you. Sebab you dah buat hampir semua benda I blum buat. Bagus sgt! Keep it up ok. Thank you for sharing your experiences with me. Btw, like your pictures. All are so high quality.

      • ummi

        Thank you so much for your feedback, Fadima. I will try to produce more quality contents, and I do hope you’ll get to experience all those things too :-*

    5. Rawlins GLAM

      That view – oh so beautiful. I would love to bathe in the lake if I am not Thalassophobic hahaha. For someone who don’t like sports, you are doing great jobs by conquering Kinabalu and then Rinjani

    6. putra87

      It’s been a while since i go for camping or hiking. How i miss the view, the scenery and the feeling when u reached the top of the mountain. How i wish 1 day i could hike and conquer Mount Rinjani!

    7. Sis Lin

      Bestnyaa Ummi dapat daki sampai atas tu..mesti puas bila dapat lihat panorama alam dr atas tu kan… jujurnya Sis belum pernah hiking sampai naik atas macamtu.. kecuali masa ke Medan, naik puncak apa laa dah lupa namnya, tu pun dah tenang sangat rasa berada atas tu..
      Tapi tu laa dah usia banyak ni, stamina dah kurang..

    8. Nur Decamellia

      Cantik sangat gambar yang last tu. Sangat berbaloi penat lelah daki gunung untuk dapatkan view yang sangat cantik tu. Subhanallah. Kalau ada rezeki, Nur nak try both trail; Senaru & Sembalun. Btw, thanks ummi share 🙂

    9. Chloe Beaver

      Wow, what an awesome experience! How nice it must have been to have a guide to help with the expedition so you didn’t have to worry about meals, which for me is the biggest headache of any big trek. I also found it funny how you said “think many, many times before packing nonessential items” because I have done a few multi-day hikes where I was kicking myself for bringing things I actually didn’t need! Thanks for sharing!

      • ummi

        Yes! If I were climbing on my own, I would have probably just brought bread and sweets, but on this trip, we had hot Indonesian meals and tea! Anyway I’m glad I didn’t bring much with me on this Rinjani trip. Over the years, I’ve learned to pack light. If this had been a few years earlier, I would probably have never made it to the campsite 😆

    10. Linda (LD Holland)

      We have always wanted to travel to see an active valance like Mt Rinjani. Good to know there are two different routes to take. And that tour operators may take one or the other route. I would certainly try to get in better shape for the hike if I planned this trip. Expecially since I know now I would have to carry my own personal gear!

      • ummi

        Yes, make sure you pack light for Rinjani! Since the porters will be carrying your food and camping equipment, you only have to bring clothes and personal toiletries. Or skip the toiletries altogether. 😄

    11. Anda

      This is a great guide for those interested in visiting the island of Lombok and hiking Mount Rinjani. Lots of useful information here! I would probably choose the Sembalun route because it’s easier than Senaru. Besides, it looks really beautiful, taking you through grasslands to the base of the summit. Would I still need hiking poles if I choose this route?

      • ummi

        I can’t really say whether you’ll need hiking poles or not. If you regularly hike and find that you don’t need hiking poles most of the time, then maybe you can do without. Personally, I find that they make a lot of difference even when not going uphill. So yah, if I were to take the Sembalun route, I would still use hiking poles.

    12. Vaisakhi

      Wow!!! Hiking a volcano. Temple visits in Bali and Hiking in Bali have been a bucket list item of mine for a while now and reading this guide made me realize how doable this hike is! Thanks for including the prices and the tips to keep in mind, it is very very helpful! You guys sure seemed to have an amazing time despite being exhausted, being in the tropical zone can do that. 🙂

      • ummi

        Hi, Vaisakhi. Yes, it’s definitely doable if you have 2 days to spare. Because we went on the Senaru route, we were sheltered from the hot sun, and by the time we got higher up, it didn’t feel like we were in the tropics anymore 😄. I hope you found this article useful, and if you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

    13. Agnes

      It such a great guide to climb Mt Rinjani. You have provided so many important information and tips. I think I like the Senaru route. It seems perfect for me. Great packing list and other tips! I hope to climb Mt Rinjani one day.

      • ummi

        Glad you found this useful, Agnes. Hope you’ll get to climb Rinjani someday, and don’t forget to revisit this page and share your experience! 😘

    14. Subhashish Roy

      Climbing mountains have not been something that I have done much and hence it would be great to get going.Mount Rinjani looks so enticing and I would prefer the Senaru route although it’s anon-stop climb through a rainforest and some rocky terrain. I can’t stand too much of the sun and the shade is preferable. Experiencing the rainforests would be great. Love your photographs.

      • ummi

        I can’t stand the sun either, and I think Senaru was the right choice for me. Although I would have preferred grassland over rainforest, I still got to see some of it at higher altitude, where there were fewer trees. 🙂

    15. Sandy N Vyjay

      We were scheduled to visit Lombok last year but had to skip owing to another commitment. Climbing Mount Rinjani seems to be one of the most exciting experiences of Lombok. The trek seems really good and energizing. I appreciate that the company that you climbed with seems really efficient and took care of what was needed in a professional manner.

      • ummi

        Yes, I would highly recommend Perama Tour for climbing Rinjani. Although you can find cheaper tours elsewhere, I think when it comes to something that involves your safety, it’s better to go with a reputable company.

    16. Jennifer Prince

      This definitely sounds like something to put on my bucket list! I love your ideas on what to take – a trash bag is a really great idea as I hate sticking stuff into my backpack. Plus, it allows you to clean up trash that others have left behind. What a fab place for a climb!

      • ummi

        Yup, it’s good to do our part for the environment, no matter how little. I’m still learning how to be more eco-friendly, as sadly most Asians, myself included, aren’t very exposed to this issue.

    17. Bhushavali N

      Far East countries are high up in my wishlist since quite some time. I need to take a very long break to visit Indonesia and Philippines. You guys are so blessed with the bounty of mother nature and its so so beautiful. Climbing atop an active volcano? Whoa! That sounds crazy and I really want to do it. I would definitely prefer Senaru over Sembulan for its gorgeous dense rainforests. Looking at the porters waiting with hot meals would be so divine after the trek! Wow. I need to plan this.

      • ummi

        My own country Malaysia isn’t blessed with these beautiful landscapes unfortunately, but we’re just a short flight away, so I’m happy for that. I do hope you’ll get to climb Rinjani one day or any other volcano in this region. And yes, you’re right — nothing beats the sight of a hot meal waiting for you after a long, strenuous hike!

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