This is a short travelogue of my hiking trip to Mt. Rinjani.
Sometimes, when age is fast catching up, one tends to start focusing on being able to achieve few difficult tasks and plan to be more fit for the days to come... and this is what exactly lead us to plan for a hiking trip from Singapore.
Based in Singapore, there are a lot of good hiking destinations in South East Asia which are easily accessible thanks to the local low cost airlines.
I had registered for the half marathon during June 2016 but work commitments and the pressure of leading an implementation team had put up a big hurdle for the preparations. The turning point was a short trip to Bintan from Singapore in August 2016. One of my friend (Vinod) had registered for IronMan event there and asked me to tag along his other companion had to drop out due to an emergency. Being the most unfit person on the whole island on those two days struck a chord with my conscience. Back to Singapore, I started serious preparations for the half marathon.
Couple of weeks before the half marathon, Vinod suggested for going for a hike somewhere nearby and we started looking for destinations. Mt. Rinjani was chosen as the destination based on the reviews we found online and we started contacting the trek operators in Lombok to negotiate the details of the hike. The final itinerary was, I will be completing the half marathon on 4th December 2016 and start the hike to Mt. Rinjani on 7th December 2016...
A short review of the half-marathon experience:
Being honest, I had registered in the last batch to flag off as I knew that I will be slower than the other runners. This turned out to be a big disadvantage as when the last batch of runners reached the water stations, we were told that there is no more water. The event was so badly organized, we runners had to cross the barriers to go and buy water from the convenient stores along the way. I managed to complete my first half marathon in 3 hours 20 minutes despite.
Seinfeld has a perfect quote to describe a marathon: Ah, what's to see? A woman from Norway, a guy from Kenya and 20,000 losers.
A short summary of the rest of the travelogue
Hiking poles, Water bladder to carry in the backpack, hiking t-shirts and shorts, thermal wear, etc were all bought from Decathlon.
Since the hike is on volcanic scree, we also picked up new shoes from Merrell.
Some of the hiking tour operators we contacted were:
- Green Rinjani
- Lun Expeditions
- Rudy Trekker
- Trekking Rinjani
- Hajar Trekking, etc
We decided to go with Lun Expeditions as the price offered to us very competitive than the other operators and the reviews for the operator were also good.
December is usually off-season as the trek is officially closed from January to March during the monsoons. The volcano had erupted in September 2016 and when we checked with the contact email on the official website, this was the reply we got:
Its officially CLOSED as written on the website and we still don’t know when it will be open as from Metreology and Geofisika still warning us of the activity of the baby volcano
Follow up Letter Head of Geological Agency of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources No. 2622/45 / BGLV / 2016 dated 27 September 2016 regarding Increased Activity Level Mount Rinjani from Level I (Normal) to Level II (Vigilant), then starting from Tuesday September 27, 2016 at 15:00 pm , the entire hiking trail to Mount Rinjani is closed from all climbing activities.
The trek operators were still conducting the treks and the there were few recent reviews on TripAdvisor as well in November 2016. We decided to go through the trek even though the official site maintained by the Govt. was last updated in September for the volcano's eruption.
Deluxe package for 2 persons with Lun Expeditions was booked through Whatsapp. The price negotiated for the deluxe package was comparable to the standard package being offered by other operators and it was the best deal. Lun has been the most accommodating person we have come across in our travels. He arranged for our accommodation at Sembalun (Pesona Rinjani) instead of Senaru (as was the norm with all other operators we contacted) as we arrived late in the night at Lombok and were starting the trek the next morning.
Day 1: 6th December 2016
We started from Singapore at 14:50 and reached Lombok at 23:00 hours. From Lombok airport to Sembalun Village was almost another 2 hours drive.