Our time on the islands of paradise otherwise known as the Gili Islands were over and it was time to head to Lombok to start a new adventure.
This island plans to be action filled from the get go; from climbing volcanos to surfing the huge waves of the south.. lets get it..
The boat from Gili Air takes about 15 minutes, we get crammed in with all the locals and their kitchen sinks by the looks of things. The boat is filled to the ceiling, not easy to negotiate with our big bags. But we all pile off at the other end fighting not to be tipped over board before reaching the black volcanic sand of Lombok.
The chaos then starts; “taxi, taxi taxi”, “i carry your bag”, “where you go”.. Its intense and in your face when all you want to do is wait for your girls to get off the boat and find our feet together. This far into the trip we know that these ‘meet and greeters’ will rip you off so we asked for the nearest bus station and took ourselves away from the madness.
So now it should be simple right… wrong, apparently the bus comes when it wants to, lets on local people only and if theres room will let on tourists.. as this so called bus trip would cost us around £2 we persisted to wait for it.. one hour, two.. people constantly trying to sell us taxis but for a lot more money, we waited.. three..
Soon enough all hope began to fade and we felt the bus was never going to come so we negotiated with the taxis.. 500 000 rupiah and they weren’t budging, well if their so stubborn then so are we.. we walked away (the oldest haggling trick in the book) and a guy approached us – 350 000 rupiah (£21) private car and direct to our accommodation – that was the best we were going to get, we knew that. So we agreed and prayed that a makeshift three wheeler wouldn’t appear from around the back.
Except for the chaotic driving the lift was fine and we got there in one piece, it was actually a pretty long drive from the bus stop so I think we got ourselves a good deal for 350 000.. well done team!
Rinjani Base Camp in Senaru Village..
Our home for the next few days and home to Indonesia’s second largest volcano, Rinjani. From our hostel Base Camp, the volcano is imposing and sits amidst the clouds most mornings. Once they clear you are able to see the scale of the beast, thats when the nerves set in. We’ve chosen to climb this monumental feature in this incredible landscape – what were we thinking?
The volcano, at a height of 3726m is famous for its 6km wide caldera that is home to another smaller active cone, Barujari, that erupts a little too often for comfort. By that I mean that the smaller cone erupted 5 days before our hike date and 7 days after our descent!!
We booked a trek to the crater rim at 2641m from our Base Camp Hostel and as we had a few days before the trek date the hostel signed us up for a guided walking tour to some nearby waterfalls – a perfect way to explore our surroundings.
The surrounding village of Senaru is luscious, the dense jungle completely surrounds the area, it would be so easy to get lost – we were grateful to be with our young local guide! He took us deep into the jungle, avoiding the cheeky monkeys, stepping over the water snakes and towards the beautiful waterfalls.
Both falls, although utterly different were both incredible, the first called ‘Lion Falls’, whose story talks of a man who hid behind the falls to hide from a lion chasing him through the jungle, stands so tall and the water cascades elegantly over one small section of the cliff. The second, a lot bigger is named ‘The Flying Pool’ and has its name due to the power of the water and the distance the spray reaches. Leanne had to take a swim in this water, it was too hard to refuse – she even climbed around the back!!
One more sleep until the trek.. I swore I would never do a trek like this again after the immense pain of Salkantay in Peru, but after staring at Rinjani’s imposing appearance for a few hours and psyching myself up I felt nervous but ready for tomorrow – nothing will ever be as hard as Salkantay.. right??
Rinjani Trek – Day 1
6am start, breakfast at 7. I can speak for all of us when I say the nerves were now in full force, we packed up our last few bits, ate breakfast and met our guide and porters who were going to be with us for the next two days and be unbelievable machines carrying everything we would need.. and then it was time..
We were taken in a car to the point were we had to sign our lives away and then it was up to us.. three girls and one volcano – wish us luck!
The first 20 minutes took us along a path with a steady incline – we stupidly let ourselves think if it was going to be like this the entire way then this is going to be easy.. and then we reached the start!!
From then on in the incline was steep, continuously stepping up over huge tree trunks and through dense jungle, our legs began to burn instantly!! After a while you find a pace, its a personal one and you tend to loose the people your with but its the only way to conquer such a hike – own time, own pace!!
The girls were incredible motivation for me, Leanne up ahead with her music, I knew I was slowing my pace if I was unable to hear it and Jenny behind me kicking me up the rear if I slowed too much!!
One unforgettable memory for me is when I reached a plateau, no more trees above my head, just a straight narrow path – I thought I’d made it, the lactic acid dissipated and I began to walk with a skip in my step. That’s when i spotted Leanne in the distance staring up into the sky.. is that the top? However it wasn’t until I got nearer to her that I realised it wasn’t the sky she was looking at but the monster climb that was ahead of us. A humongous sand dune that looked impossible to climb. Our porters were ahead of us, struggling themselves each on a different path – they told us which route to take, the easiest they said, however I think that may have been the toughest and scariest climb of my life. With nothing to save us from falling to our left or right we gripped on to any long grass as our feet slipped beneath us. It was impossible and we felt like we were climbing forever. With our shoes filled with sands and our hands and knees black with dirt we had made it to the top… of that section – lord have mercy!!
It was then that we got to the final leg, climbing over hardened lava, of course this part was steep, why change tradition and because of course it started raining it was super slippery – hay why not petrify us some more Rinjani!! Clinging to the rocks and pulling ourselves up we didn’t even bother with the view for pure terror of falling off, we eventually crawled to the top..
After a short walk to find our porters who were setting up camp, we had made it.. we had actually made it! With no energy left to jump for joy we made do with an emphatic high 5 and congratulated each other!!
For the first few hours we just sat there, our guide and porters cooked us some fried bananas and tea (absolute diamonds) and we waited to see the view. At 2641 meters above sea level we were very much in the clouds so for a lot of the time these white fluffy marsh-mellows obstructed our view..
Once the wind subsided and the clouds disappeared we could see for miles, we felt so incredibly high. It felt as if we were looking out of a planes window, Lombok below looked like Google Earth, it was the most surreal, bizarre yet beautiful sight I may have ever seen!!
By this time we felt ready for the short climb from our camp site to the crater rim. Boy we thought we’d seen an impressive view and then were greeted by the incredible Rinjani Crater.. At 6km wide, with another volcano inside and the most vibrant blue lake, all words had escaped us and we all stood in utter bemusement at its sublime beauty! As the volcano inside Rinjani had erupted 5 days before our hike, steam was still rising from its crater adding to its mystical majesty!
Check out this photo from Google:
While we’re were up there the sun began to set casting the most beautiful colours across the sky. It has to be one of the most incredible sunsets I’ve ever seen, it felt magical being as high as the clouds as the sunset below you and behind the horizon. I’d never seen anything like it!!!
As the last embers burnt out we began to notice the incredible nights sky.. We laid our sleeping bags down outside the tent, snuggled up and fell in love. Shooting stars, the Milky Way and us – it was utter perfection! We could see the movement of the earth from up there, something so mesmerising we laid there until we could no longer feel our toes!!
Another incredible photo from Google:
Rinjani Trek – Day 2
I can’t say any of us slept well that night, but before we knew it the sun had risen and it was time for the descent.
Rain delayed play a little but eventually we had to brave the weather and start the hike. What goes up must come down and that made us all very nervous, some of the challenges we faced the previous day seemed impossible to climb up, how on earth were we going to go down them?
The rain didn’t let up the entire day, so the descent was made 10 times harder, at points we put our lives in our porters hands as the chance off slipping off the edge was too scary to comprehend.
For the first 10 minutes through the jungle we had some fun slip sliding in the mud but then for the 7 hours that followed it was treacherous, scary and painful. I lost count of the amount of times I fell over, Jenny opted to slide down parts on her bum as it was rather that than braking an ankle.
We were soaked through, muddy and cold. 1 hour 10 minutes of the descent was fun the rest was terrifying. It’s obviously supposed to be quicker on the way down but it took us the same amount of time to ascend as it did descend.
We had made it, as we waited for the car to take us back to Basecamp, soaking wet and muddy we couldn’t believe how hard that trek had turned out to be!!
Back at Basecamp we were offered a glass of ice tea which was warmly welcomed. Rinjani was completely obscured by cloud, how could it still be raining up there.. we had done it though, we had conquered the beast and I couldn’t be prouder of all of us!!
It was now time to head south and spend some time recuperating on the beaches..
We stayed in a beautiful beach hut, a perfect place to chill and relax. We slept like babies the first night ready for the next few days at the beach.
Little did we know that the next day it was a struggle to even get out of bed. Our legs had completely seized up, we were walking like penguins!! Our plans of surfing and beaching it were out of the window and for the next few days we chilled and did absolutely nothing!!!
The capital of Lombok and apparently worth a visit to see the temples. On arrival we were unsure, it felt like we were the only western people in the whole city. The temples that we did visit were either non existent or a big let down. The most impressive sight we saw whilst walking the streets was the imposing Islamic Centre. The girls thought it would be a great idea to go inside, we were prepared with sarongs to cover our modesty but it still felt like we were imposing. The looks we got upon entering were mixed but we were greeted warmly and one of the guys offered to show us round with his mixed English! It’s was beautiful and we asked a few questions along the way, one being where were all the women, to the unnerving answer of this being a male only mosque. OMG what were we doing there!!! We quickly said our thank yous, took photos with those that asked and then hot footed it out of there before one of us were married off.
We planned a long stay here, 4 nights of beach and sun. We struck gold with our hostel which I think should be renamed a hotel. It was stunning, we had our own room, kitchen and pool.
We spent everyday at the pool, who needs the beach when we had our own pool!! The hotel brought complimentary snacks to us twice a day and coming from the backpacker lifestyle this treatment was beyond luxury. An incredible breakfast was also provided – we couldn’t believe our luck.. so for the next 5 days we solidly sunbathed, ate and swam – it was utter perfection!!
Our time in Lombok is up, its been exhausting and exciting. What a cool country and one of the beaten track – I really really recommend it!!
Were heading back to Bali now..speak soon..