The Unforgiving Rinjani

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Asia, Indonesia
The Majestic Mount Rinjani Viewed from Sembalun, the Start of the Hike

The Majestic Mount Rinjani Viewed from Sembalun, the Start of the Hike

“It looks so forbidding!” James says with his eyes deeply contemplating at the summit of Mount Rinjani, piercing the sky above the island of Lombok. From the crater rim, the afternoon sun illuminates the very top of the volcano, giving a golden hue to the almost floating pyramid above the clouds, leaving its gigantic body on earth. Cold and unforgiving.

* * *

Six hours earlier we started our hike to Indonesia’s second highest volcano, standing at 3,726 meters, anchoring Lombok amid the Lesser Sunda Islands. The smell of fresh morning grass and the fragrant scent of ripening garlic in locals’ fields boosted our spirit to kick off the long hike through savanna and rain forests. Jen is our guide, a 21-year old lad who decided to become a trekking guide instead of continuing his study to college. “Even if I graduated from the university, it would be very hard to find a job here,” he reasoned.

Clear bright skies erased our worry about the weather the previous day. Walking through the vast savanna, I relied on James’ extra trekking pole to help me maneuver the uneven dirt trails. It was a relatively easy hike and remained so until we reached the second post where an unexpected sumptuous lunch was served on a bridge overlooking a verdant narrow valley, lightening up every hiker’s mood halfway up the hike to our base camp at the crater rim.

The atmosphere was bizarrely festive amid the hike to the notoriously difficult journey to climb Mount Rinjani… until a vicious fanged creature harassed us, shaking the tree branches to show his dominance towards the other two-legged primates below. Grey long-tailed macaques roam many parts of the forests around Rinjani, but this particular alpha male clearly asserted his intention to steal our snacks. Fortunately our guide and porters knew better than anyone else on how to handle them.

A generous scoop of rice with fried chicken thigh, stir-fried vegetables, fried tofu and tempe, fresh salad and cut pineapples truly astonished us and fellow hikers. I never imagined to have such decent meal in the middle of nowhere, let alone during a serious hike to a venerable volcano.

Little did I know that they provided the energy I would desperately need to get to the first base camp later that afternoon.

Heading into the Clouds

Heading into the Clouds

Asserting Dominance

Asserting Dominance

We were about to enter the rain forests when suddenly my right foot cramped, leaving me limp for a brief second. In a senseless decision to drag my body to a nearby post to rest my feet, I made my other foot end up cramping as well. Spontaneously I dropped my body to the shrub, leaving James with questions and worry.

People are nice. So was an old porter resting nearby who jumped from his place to help and give me a massage. “Forgive me,” he said politely, “my hands are dirty.” Such a humbling attitude shown by an ordinary person whose intention was only to help.

“Did you often have guests like me who got cramp along the way?” I asked Jen out of my curiosity.

“Yes, but only Indonesians, Malaysians, and Singaporeans,” he explained. I chuckled.

With unfit feet, I kept walking into the rain forest with James following closely from behind. Living in a tropical country means rain forests are no strangers for me. However, hiking through one shrouded in thick clouds was something I had never done before. I dragged my feet to climb the steps of dirt, rocks, and tangled tree roots, one step at a time.

“How many more hills until we get to the base camp?” I kept asking Jen until I realized that I might have asked the same question too often which made me sound like a very spoiled city guy. At this point we had made friend with four amiable Britons, an eccentric American astrophysicist with his friend who lived in Guangzhou, a lovely Swiss couple, a solo Australian female adventurer, and two small but strong Filipinas who have conquered Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia and Mount Batur in Bali prior to their ascent to Rinjani.

While dragging the feet was such an arduous thing for me to do, the porters dashed through the hikers as if they were walking on a flat surface on the ground. Moreover, my proper and durable hiking shoes were nothing compared to their worn rubber slippers. They were truly superhumans.

After the strenuous effort to conquer the hills, we barely made it to the base camp before sunset. In front of us the clouds slowly lifted up to reveal the silvery reflection of Segara Anak – the volcanic lake – below. Dewi Anjani, as some locals believe, resides in the massive crater, drawing the more spiritual Hindus from the neighboring island of Bali to come to the crater to present offerings to her. Meanwhile, the mighty summit of Mount Rinjani overlooked from behind, radiating the beautiful yet revered nature of the volcano.

The skies turned to some of the most exquisite colors, blanketing Mount Rinjani with sensory festivity to console the weary souls of us – the hikers, coming from four corners of the world to marvel the grandeur of this mighty giant.

And gave us energy for the hardest day of our lives the following dawn.

The Golden Pyramid above the Clouds

The Golden Pyramid above the Clouds

The Clouds-Shrouded Land

A Cloud-Shrouded Land

The Base Camp for the First Night

Base Camp for the First Night

The Treacherous Trail to the Summit

Treacherous Trail to the Summit

Sunset, on the Roof of the World

Sunset, on the Roof of the World

Under a full moon in cold and harsh temperature, we wake up at 2 am to grab our early breakfast, a sandwich with cheese, lettuce, tomato and ham. But my mind does not care of what my palate tastes. It is rather fixated to the silhouette of the towering natural pyramid laid before my eyes.  Firm and solid.

“Let’s go!” Jen tells us to finish our meal to get ready for the ascent.

Fellow hikers with head torches on their heads walk sprightly with their trekking poles gripped firmly on their hands, marching towards the summit, forming a silent troupe of huff and puff.

Thin sheets of dust fly in the air as we walk on the steep trail at the first third part from our base camp to the summit. Loose gravels, scree and volcanic ash slow us down as we keep going one step backward after a few steps forward. My feet are still sore from the difficult hike the previous day, and that does my body good to cope with the tough terrain to reach the highest point of Lombok. James and Jen are a few meters away in front of me, regularly stop to check on me.

Upon the end of the first third of the trail to the summit I barely have any energy left to continue the ascent. Realizing that going together with James and Jen will only slow them down, I ask them to leave me and go to the summit before the sun rises. I sit back to rest and catch my breath while watching other hikers pass me by. Half an hour later, the latest group arrive, leaving no one behind them. From this vantage point I can only see a part of the crater with the trail towards the summit laid ahead of me. My feet will not be able to take me to the summit, or else I would only cause problems to the others. However, I pushed myself to walk further, down the second third of the trail to the summit through a relatively easier terrain. Alone and under the full moon.

The calm and cold ambiance strangely soothes me as I walk further up. The sound of the wind, whirling vaguely around me, complementing the sound of my shoes stepping on the gravels. To my right, the moon shines brightly over one of the peaks around the crater rim, leaving Segara Anak in a complete darkness below. Meanwhile, to my left, the twinkle of the dim lamps from people’s houses in Senaru brighten up the sleepy valley.

The trail now changes into a much steeper path leading to the summit, a sign for me to halt as I have reached the beginning of the final third of the trail, only a few meters away from the summit. From afar, tiny dots of light move slowly towards the highest point of Rinjani, catching up with the time to be able to get to the summit before the first light rises from the east.

Slowly the sun rises over the neighboring island of Sumbawa, creating a tall shadow over Rinjani’s crater and waking up the edelweiss from the cold of the night. The outline of the island of Lombok starts to be clearly visible, with the three well-known Gilis – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air – at the very end of the western part of the island, together forming the stepping stones to Lombok’s more famous sister, Bali. Mount Agung – Bali’s highest point – comes out from the darkness at the west, seemingly floating above the ocean. This is why we all come here for, to witness such majestic view only very high mountains can provide. Mother nature plays its light orchestra in a slow yet appeasing rhythm.

Full Moon over the Mountain

Full Moon over the Mountain

When the Sun Replaces the Moon to Light the Earth...

When the Sun Replaces the Moon to Light the Earth…

...Life Flourishes

…Life Flourishes

Segara Anak and Mount Baru, Overlooked by the Mighty Peak of Rinjani

Segara Anak and Mount Baru, Overlooked by the Mighty Peak of Rinjani

When Right and Left are Not the Options

When Going Right and Left are Not the Options

As the sun rises higher, waves of hikers start to leave the summit, down the treacherous trail. What was previously a dark path leading to the summit is now visible under the sun. A long stretch of thick scree and ash prove to give another challenge to go down to the base camp. James and Jen has now returned.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” James utters his first words to me since parting way with me to go to the summit. Beads of sweat dropping off his face, “I even thought of giving up.”

The day is still long as we will go down the crater before lunch to see Segara Anak and go back to the other side of the crater rim before night falls. Wasting no more time, we walk fast down the very same trail that drained our energy a few hours earlier. Navigating our way in such terrain proves to be a hard thing to do as we keep falling due to the unstable soil we walk on. The camp site is in sight, but the faster we go, the more often we slip and fall.

Other hikers are resting around their tents, with the unmistakably relieved faces after the tough morning they had. In our camp, the porters have prepared a big plate of fries with banana pancake and burger. What normally looks delicious now seems to be a lot less appealing after we properly scale the level of difficulty this mountain proves to have.

“Let’s pack our backpacks!” Jen tells us to prepare ourselves for the descent to Segara Anak where we will dip our feet in the cold water of the volcanic lake to relieve our strained muscles, or so we thought.

Going down the steep crater rim through the cloud zone with some nearly vertical path gives further stress to our weary feet. Carrying 10 kg (22 lbs) of luggage on our back clearly does not make things easier. We keep walking, passing through some of the most beautiful ravines studded with blooming edelweiss flowers, but it is the thought of feeling the freshness of Segara Anak that keeps me going.

Countless hills we pass through, endless meadows we go by, James’ pain after the tough hike to the summit can be clearly seen on his face. “We’re almost there,” Jen boosts our spirit to keep walking towards the fresh water lake after walking for three hours. As we keep following him, suddenly the clear water of the lake emerges from behind a hill, propelling ourselves to move faster to call the descent an end.

The other hikers who got to the lake before us are already having their lunch, some still with wet hair after swimming in the refreshing lake. Our porters secure a place for us very close to the water, but coming closer we are discouraged to see the rubbish littering the supposedly picturesque lake.

“Who threw all of this rubbish?” I ask Jen.

“It’s the locals,” he replies.

Rinjani overwhelms those who attempt to climb it to the very limit of their strength, but ironically it is engulfed in local people’s indifference to keep their own backyard clean. However, the breeze of the mountain air, the calmness of the water and the magnificent view of Mount Baru – the small active volcano – refresh our mind and body after the very hard day, so far.

The epic setting of the towering mountain peaks over the volcanic lake drew the attention of some of Indonesian advertisement agencies to shoot their commercials for their clients. Djarum Super – one of Indonesia’s biggest cigarette companies – had one of their TV commercials filmed here, depicting three adventurers canoeing the calm water of Segara Anak.

“How did they get the canoe up here?” I ask Jen.

“With porters, lots of them,” Jen explains.

“Yamaha even plans to bring a motorcycle to the summit of Mount Rinjani for their TV commercial,” he quickly adds.

As difficult to grasp as it may sound, it is indeed a ridiculous idea to bring a motorcycle through the perilous trail we took earlier this morning. But we, humans, have proved to always come up with wild ideas over the course of history itself.

Mount Baru and Segara Anak

Mount Baru and Segara Anak

“Do you want to go to the hot spring?” Jen asks us.

“No, let’s continue the hike to Pelawangan Senaru,” we reply, pointing at the other side of the crater rim where our second base camp is located.

Walking carefully through fallen rocks scattered along the lake bank, I find the first part of the ascent very relaxing and easy compared to what I had earlier before lunch… but not for too long. A 45° trail laid before our eyes is the only way to get to our base camp where we will spend the night. As we go further up, rotting logs from fallen trees often block our way. At some parts we even have to do a little bit of rock climbing due to the vertical obstacle we encounter, still with our backpacks attached, adding more weight for us to lift up.

Towards halfway of the ascent my energy has literally been drained. Walking on flat path has never been harder, let alone dragging myself up the hill for hours. “Are you okay?” James keeps checking on me. To make things worse, I accidentally hurt my left ankle from the previous descent as I kept using my left foot to support my body and the extra luggage when I went down some rocky obstacles.

It turns out to be the longest hike of my life, ever. With my depleting energy, I drag myself, one feet at a time. Finally three hours after we started the ascent, the iron rods leading to the camp sites are finally sighted, bringing a big relief to me as I realize the excruciating hike is almost over. “We’re nearly there,” Jen encourages me.

* * *

Strong wind shakes our tent, with a vague rumbling sound from the outside. We peek out of our tent to check on the skies, then we walk to the crater rim to take some quintessential photographs of Mount Rinjani, Segara Anak, and the puffing Mount Baru before leaving this mountain in a few minutes. The breathtaking view of the summit, the new volcano and the freshwater lake with white clouds rolling over the crater rim pay off all the grueling hike we did on the previous days. Magnificent views of Mother Nature sometimes never come for free, indeed.

“The way down is a lot easier than the route we took on the first day,” one of the porters assures me. “There are many tangled tree roots which make good natural staircases.”

A little past 7 am we start our final descent to the village of Senaru where we left our other baggage before we started the hike two days ago. Rocky path still proves to be a tough terrain for me to conquer as my left ankle has not recovered yet from the injury. I keep walking a few meters behind James and Jen, forcing them to stop every now and then only to check on me. The tangled tree roots do act as natural staircases but they have their drawback: dangerously slippery especially in the cloud zone.

Our lunch stop turns out to be the stop that changes everything. A hearty portion of spaghetti with chicken in bolognese sauce and a can of coke bring up my sugar level and help me boost my energy during the final leg of the descent. That and the fact that we are only a few kilometers away from our finish point makes me even more driven to reach the end line soon.

I push myself to walk faster out of my reluctance to slow James and Jen down towards the end of the trip. I put aside the pain from my left ankle and focus on the trail and try to not slip my way through the roots and wet soil. Once I have gotten the rhythm to walk fast down the hill, I surprise myself with how swiftly I move from one tree root to another to maneuver through the forests. One hour later the gate to the hike to Mount Rinjani through Senaru is already in our sight, bringing an even higher excitement to us. We are nearly there.

The Breathtaking View of Rinjani

Breathtaking View of Rinjani

The hike to Mount Rinjani was undoubtedly the most strenuous thing we have ever done, but in hindsight the experience truly affirms one of human’s greatest attributes which enables us to conquer the tallest peaks, the deepest oceans, and the most unimaginable places: passion. It pushes us to our physical limit, force our brain to think of ingenious creative solutions for our needs, and make our lives better everyday. It was indeed the passion of exploring new places that brought us here, to the mighty giant that is Rinjani.

As our plane flies higher to the sky, the sturdy and majestic pyramid of Mount Rinjani, too high for the morning clouds to cover, radiates the golden hue over the island of Lombok. Unforgiving, but one of the best things that Mother Nature has to offer.

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Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.

253 thoughts on “The Unforgiving Rinjani”

  1. annehelenabos says:

    I have to say that I really love your photographs – wonderful places!

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    • Thank you so much Anne! The painful hike was really worth it because Rinjani was truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to.

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  2. You’re right Bama, I don’t think we’ve ever worked so hard for our photos. It’s a good thing you decided not to tackle the last part to the summit – that was an absolute killer! My legs were threatening to cramp up several times and I barely managed to make it. As always, I love your attention in capturing details… plus that night shot without a tripod is just breathtaking. It seems like you were flying above the clouds in that one!

    Thanks again for agreeing to go on this crazy adventure – Rinjani pushed us both to our absolute limit and we have the memories (and physical scars) to prove it. 🙂

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    • Thanks James! You know how often we took photos on our previous trips. But the painful hike at Rinjani totally distracted our attention away from taking photographs, despite the scenic location. A part of me feel a bit disappointment for not being able to join you at the summit. But then it was a necessary lesson for me to better prepare myself in the future should we go on such a strenuous trip again.

      Thank you for proposing the idea of climbing Rinjani at the first place! It was indeed a trip to remember.

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  3. Thanks for your post. You explained with beautiful detail, and the photos are equally beautiful! With respect, hope, joy and love, Carmela

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    • Thanks for dropping by, Carmela! Rinjani was such a beautiful and tough place at the same time.

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  4. Love your post – very inspiring. We are in Yogykarta at the moment, about to visit Gunang Bromo – we are heading to Lombok soon and would love to do something like this!

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    • Thanks Gemma! Around this time of the year, you should be able to have beautiful skies over Bromo. Wish you have a very wonderful trip and don’t forget to prepare properly prior to hiking Rinjani!

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  5. Wow! What an adventure you had! Your description of the whole experience was so good that my ankle almost started to hurt! (Once on a hike, I got cramps in my calves so that I could barely walk, so I can understand how you felt)
    Your photos are spectacular, especially the full moon over the mountains and the base camp on that steep slope. Looks like you could roll right out of the tent!

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    • Thanks Marilyn! I’m really sorry for what you experienced but getting cramps during a mountain hike is probably one of the worst nightmares we can have. I’m glad you managed to finish your hike just fine. We literally camped on top of the narrow crater rim, but luckily no one rolled out of the tent. 🙂

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  6. Hari Qhuang says:

    The photo of the full-moon looks so mystical and indescribable with words. What did you feel when you shot it?

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    • Thanks Hari! When I took that picture I was alone in the dark because everyone else had gone to the summit. It was so peaceful up there.

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      • Hari Qhuang says:

        Wow, it must be really such an out-of-this world experience! Thanks for sharing the photo. 😀

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  7. Fiona.q says:

    i think this is one of your best post about mountains. and the night view is so impressive – it should be very hard to catch such view by camera.

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    • Thanks Fiona! It was really hard to get that picture since I didn’t bring my tripod. I had to take some blurry pictures first before this shot.

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  8. Breathtaking! The photographs and your description of the hike! That night shot of the moon and the last shot of Rinjani are just outstanding! Fabulous post Bama. Made me wish I was fit enough to attempt this myself 🙂

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    • Thanks a lot Madhu! I have never been on a serious mountain hike before, but when I did that last week I went to one of the toughest volcanoes to conquer in Indonesia. 🙂 James was a lot fitter than me due to his dragon boating practice. I should have done more to prepare my physical condition prior to hiking the volcano, indeed.

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      • Thanks a lot Madhu! I’m glad the strenuous hike resulted to being FPed. 🙂 That and the pleasure to share with everyone else really made my week!

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  9. Thanks Bama, ‘the full moon over the mountain’ is so magical, I can’t stop staring at this 🙂

    Now I wonder what that would be if you happened to use tripod on capturing that shot…

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    • Thanks Badai! Actually sometimes I find tripod a bit limiting my imagination, hence I rely on my hands more. 🙂 But maybe that’s because I haven’t gotten really used to using one properly.

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      • ..same thing here 😉

        In fact, it’s been two times already I’ve broken the tripod I was using, it’s kind of embarrassing. Dunno for sure what’s wrong with the force within me :/

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  10. What awesome pictures. Do you think that the massive eruption of Rinjani in 1258 CE may have triggered the Little Ice Age?

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    • Thank you! The fact is some volcanoes in Indonesia are known for creating climate anomalies when it erupted in the past. Mount Tambora’s eruption in the 19th century resulted in a year without summer across North America and Europe, while the eruption of Krakatau (Krakatoa) is still considered the loudest sound ever recorded in history. So, Rinjani’s eruption in the 13th century might have triggered the Little Ice Age, indeed.

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    • In my personal opinion, Rinjani should be on everyone’s list. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by!

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  11. Thank you for this wonderfully descriptive post. I learned about a new place and a new adventure that I hope to take one day! Your pictures are stunning. Thank you!

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    • Thank you Emma! I wish your dream comes true! And you’ll find yourself in Rinjani sooner than you think. 🙂

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  12. Such beautiful photography, and it is accompanied by great verse. Thanks for Rinjani experience…a new destination for me. Cheers.

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    • Thank you for dropping by! Your post on the fishermen of Li River reminds me of my visit to Xingping last year. It was a nice place but rapidly changing due to the mass tourism influx from other parts of the country.

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  13. Breathless. Why can’t we just stop living a life of getting-and-spending and escape to nature.

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    • Hi Elmer! Breathless is probably one word that well describes how majestic Rinjani is. Getting back to nature is always a good thing after what we have to deal with everyday in the hustle and bustle of the big cities.

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    • Wow Bama, it’s happened again!! A huge congratulations for being Freshly Pressed – you absolutely deserve it after what we went through on that mountain!

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      • Thanks James! I would never expect this! Again, thanks for throwing the idea to go there at the first place!

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    • Thanks Nicole! I know you’re a big fan of mountains. So, hopefully one day you’ll find yourself in the middle of the rain forest, climbing towards the summit of Rinjani. 🙂

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  14. wow! awesome! beautiful shot and words… I envy.. I wish I can explore Indonesia mountain

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    • Thanks Tria! Don’t envy me. 🙂 We don’t know what the future holds. You might find yourself at the summit of Rinjani one day, sooner than you thought.

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  15. Dettie AdLife says:

    These are simply gorgeous. The full moon over the mountain shot is surreal.

    I took about 40 photos of the new Transformers 4 set, and none of them turned out a fraction of good as the shots here. Then again, I took them with my phone…

    I wish I could take photos like this. Really glad I stumbled upon your blog.

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    • What nice words from you, Dettie! I guess I was lucky that my hands were not trembling when I took that picture of the full moon. Never stop trying, because the key to photography is the continuous learning. Good luck!

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    • Thank you for your kind words! And I’m glad you enjoyed the picture of the moon as much as I enjoyed taking photographs of it. 🙂

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  16. The photo’s are amazing! I have blisters on my feet and leg cramps ( ; ) after ‘experiencing’ your trek. Amazing adventure, to say the least.
    I wish James, and you, many more jaunts.

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  17. Kaitlynn says:

    This was such a pleasure to read. You are so talented at writing and taking photos. I hope to begin traveling as soon as possible and I definitely hope to make my way to this area! Nature is truly breathtaking. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing experience!

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    • Thank you so much Kaitlynn! I’m glad this post brings up your wanderlust even stronger! 🙂 Good luck with your plan!

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  18. Lovely, mind boggling photos. Thanks for sharing. It was a wonderful experience reading and seeing through your eyes.

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    • Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed reading my experience in conquering one of the toughest volcanoes to climb in Indonesia.

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  19. Hi Bama,
    Although challenging, Rinjani looks like a spectacular trek. Your photos are just breathtaking. I deeply admire your common sense and humility not to push through the summit and risk injuring yourself and causing inconvenience to others. A lot of times ego gets in way and people push themselves to tragedy. I remember a guy I met when I climbed Kilimanjaro. He was in bad shape half way through the summit but he refused the advice of his guide to stop climbing and descend. A little further up, he suffered an acute mountain sickness (cerebral edema) and had to be carried down the mountain. I never knew if he made it out alive. My guide said, “If only he listened to his body and not his ego.” And you know Bama, the mountain wil always be there. It will always welcome you with open arms if you want to go for another try.

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    • Thanks a lot Marisol! Such kind words from you. But actually that’s pretty much what I thought when I decided not to continue to the summit. I looked up and told myself that one day I can come back when I’m more properly prepared. I’m a bit disappointed in a way, but it was a very invaluable lesson for me to better prepare myself the next time I do such thing. I hope that guy made it alive though, because I’ve heard stories of how tough trekking at Kilimanjaro can be.

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  20. What an incredible story, your words and photographs are inspiring. The shot of the full moon over the volcano is mesmerising. I hope I can do something like this one day. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Thanks Ben! I took a peek at your blog and it seems like you’re a mountain lover yourself. When you go to Indonesia one day, make sure you climb Rinjani. Living in Switzerland definitely helps you since you’ll be more used to high altitude than others.

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  21. treiter89 says:

    Wow, I’m really impressed! Great job on everything. Those shots are stunning. Gotta love this planet.

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    • Thanks Thorsten! Earth does have so many incredible places to visit. That’s why keeping it healthy is as important as exploring its corners.

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      • treiter89 says:

        Totally agree with you. I would love see so much more of this planet but I don’t have enough money for that yet 😀 Would be great if you could check out my new blog if you would like to 🙂

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      • Money is not the only factor Thorsten. Passion is the other determining variable. 🙂 I have taken a look at your blog and it’s good because it seems like you focus on something, which is writing about how you perceive the world and what is happening around you. Keep on the good work and never stop learning! 🙂

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      • treiter89 says:

        Thank you very much 🙂 Yes, nothing will have an outstanding effect if it isn’t done with passion. I really agree with you. You keep on the great work too 🙂

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  22. wiltedleaf says:

    I would have woken up and rolled off the mountain, had I been on that First Night’s Base Camp. Yowzers! GREAT pics!

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    • Lol! 🙂 I know, we camped on the narrower part of the rim while some others managed to get a better and more convenient place. Thanks for dropping by!

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  23. ~ Congrats on being FP! Actually, even without words, your pictures already speak a lot. It shows how marvelous the mountain is and it captures the real beauty of Mother Nature. This is what we get when we’re climbing — the breathtaking pictures that are really priceless. After climbing in Msia, I am hoping to climb Gunung Rinjani. Your pictures inspired me all the more. Thanks for sharing! 🙂 Cheers! – Bliss, The Lurker’s List

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    • Thank you! It’s very hard to not get beautiful pictures from Rinjani as it is a magnificent volcano itself. It might take a while for me to hike another mountain as I have to better prepare myself the next time. If I got the chance to climb a mountain in Malaysia I would definitely go to Mount Kinabalu. Thanks again for your kind words!

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      • ~ Yep. I haven’t climb Kinabalu yet. However, you could try to climb the other ones like Tahan and Yong Yap which are challenging with great views, too. Some friends who climbed before me said they saw a big, brown bear. Anyway, who knows, the next time around you’d be completing one of the world’s summits, haha. It has been a dream of mine to climb the ones in Asia first like Kinabalu, Rinjani and Gorak Shep. More Power to you and to your future hikes! 🙂

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      • Thanks for your recommendation! I never thought that brown bears still roam the forests of Malaysia. Now that is something quite fascinating! More power to you too for your future trips! 🙂

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  24. What an amazing journey, and challenge, and fabulous photos. I especially like your capture of the alpha macaque, and the moon shot of course. Between you and James I feel I have just about climbed Rinjani myself, and at the same time know I couldn’t do it. Mt Batur was a cakewalk compared to what you guys went through.

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    • Thanks Alison! When James first came up with the idea to climb Rinjani I said yes immediately. But I was not well-prepared for it, hence the arduous hike. However since he hasn’t been to Bali yet, maybe one day when he does visit the island I will take him to Mount Batur. 🙂

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  25. beautiful story-telling and brilliant photos. that way it giving me the clear picture of how Rinjani should be on every mountaineer top list. im no mountaineer nor someone that fancy goes on the top of the world. but your writing was provokable enough to claim me a reason to step on it and see it from my very perspective. had a good time reading it thank you

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    • Thank you! I myself am not a mountaineer. Usually I tend to go to places with high cultural values and historical significance. Rinjani was the first time I went on a serious climb. But I guess sometimes we need to go to different places just to get out of our ‘comfort zone’. 🙂

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  26. Nur Chariroh '14 says:

    Reblogged this on Unlimited Limitation and commented:
    Bismillahirohmanirohim,

    its lovely to found this post on frshly pressed, totally great landscape and splendid to see one of Indonesia beautiful mountain. You should spend a moment too in Bromo or Semeru Mountain for a great atmosphere and beautiful edelweiss flower there. May this reblogged post inspire us to love this nature and Alloh always bless us with His mercy. amin

    Like

    • Thank you Nur! Actually I have gone to Bromo three times and the post on my latest trip will come soon. I loved every single trip. However I have yet to make it to Semeru. From the stories I heard it’s really hard to reach the summit.

      Like

    • Thanks Amy! If you love the nature and adventure you should put Rinjani on your list when you travel to Southeast Asia.

      Like

    • Thanks Brandon! They truly do, indeed. I guess that’s the main reason behind every mountaineer’s drive to climb a mountain because standing on the roof of the world does give you that spiritual experience.

      Like

  27. Great photo, and great journal. It have been thirteen years since my last visit on Rinjani, reading your journal, and looking at your photograph make me feel like i am visiting “her” again.

    Like

    • Thanks Alf! I’m glad this post brings back some great memories to you. I wonder how different Rinjani was back then when you went.

      Like

  28. Wow! What a treat! I have lived in lombok and wa lked the environs of senaru and loved it, but always seemed to find reasons not to do the hike. So enjoyed your photos and story….fantastic effort.

    Like

    • Thanks for dropping by! Well, it doesn’t matter if you lived around Senaru but didn’t make it to the mountain, because I believe there were a lot of interesting things as well in the village.

      Like

    • It is one of the most magical places that I’ve been to, so far. It was worth all the sweat and injuries.

      Like

    • Exactly! But the most important thing is to prepare yourself for the hike, something that I know I should do but didn’t do enough in the end.

      Like

  29. Fantastic post Bama! What an amazing and magical journey with a story beautifully told. Congrats on another Freshly Pressed – so richly deserved. All the best, Terri

    Like

    • Thanks a lot Terri! I really didn’t expect this, so I was very surprised when WP chose this post to be FPed. I guess that paid off the grueling hike to Rinjani. 🙂

      Like

  30. Wow . . what an adventure trek you have, Bama. And as usual, you pictures are amazing. I like the one with a full moon over the mountain.

    Like

    • Makasih Chris! In hindsight I’m glad I didn’t make it to the summit, otherwise I would have missed that shot altogether.

      Like

  31. Wow…so beautiful and inspiring! I love all the detail in your post I felt as though I was there. Thank you so much for sharing your adventure, I learned about a new place and added it to my bucket list.

    Like

    • Thanks Shanon! It’s a pleasure for me to share my story from Rinjani. It was a tough place to be, but very rewarding in many ways.

      Like

    • Rinjani was a very special place. Even though the hike was very tough, but it’s worth every single drop of sweat. Thanks!

      Like

  32. Reblogged this on Just write it… and commented:
    Keren banget Kak !! Tremendous ! Last year I visited Lombok, but I just wandered around the beach,, I wish I could go to see sunrise in Rinjani in the end of this year.. aamiin
    Suka banget deh Kak Foto-fotonya (dewa kerennya) –> maaf ya pake Indo.. hehe

    Like

    • Makasih banget buat komennya ya Chrysant! Gpp kok pake Bahasa Indonesia, mudah-mudahan akhir tahun ini kesampaian ke Rinjani ya.

      Like

    • Thanks a lot for your kind words. Such encouragement only makes me not forget to keep learning.

      Like

  33. This is one trek I’d love to do on my future visit to Indonesia! Epic is written all over it. And your photos are so sublime – loving the full moon photo most especially!

    Like

    • Oh yes you should go to Rinjani, Dennis! It’s one of the things that will leave you awestruck. The sweat, the strenuous hike, everything was really worth it. Thanks Dennis! I’m glad you enjoyed this post.

      Like

  34. Lady Sparrow says:

    Wow! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed, Bama!!
    Awesome post too! Maybe I should put Rinjani on my hiking list….

    Like

    • Thanks Sila!
      If you enjoy hiking that much I do really recommend Rinjani for you. But prepare yourself well, don’t do the same mistake that I did. 🙂

      Like

  35. Michelle Carol Barte says:

    I just love your blogpost and your awesome photos (esp the fullmoon over the mountain shot…wow!) Thanks for the mention too …I’m actually 1 of the “two small but strong Filipinas” you met in your Mt.Rinjani adventure :D…that was one helluva climb,whew!

    Like

    • Hey Michelle!!! Thanks and glad to have you here, one of those two strong women. You guys are amazing! I remember your guide talking to me about how easy you seemed to do the summit. So, what’s your next mountain to conquer? 🙂

      Like

      • Michelle Carol Barte says:

        Oh no,it wasn’t an easy climb at all. It was really tough but you get a sense of fulfillment once you reached the summit. Truly,an experience to remember.Next mountain to climb?…I don’t know yet but I would want to conquer Mt. Kilimanjaro someday. :P…What about you? 🙂

        Like

      • Had I not got the cramps on the first day, I would have pushed myself to reach the summit. Oh well, I need to practice more the next time I plan to do such serious climb. Wow, I’ve heard stories of Kilimanjaro and it’s a very hard mountain to conquer. But I won’t be surprised when one day you make it there. 🙂 As for myself, I haven’t planned on going to any mountain soon. My next trip will focus on cultural activities I guess.

        Like

  36. treiter89 says:

    Reblogged this on The Reiter Report and commented:
    Follow Bama’s journey through many different countries and see wonderful landscapes and photographs of fascinating cultures. This post is just one beautiful example of what you can see on his blog.

    Like

  37. Cheryl Armecin says:

    Hi Bama! 🙂

    How are u? Thanks for the mentioned in your post. It was really a great adventure up in the mt of rinjani and you described it so well. Your photos are great especially ur magical full moon. I tried to capture that view but no luck. 🙂 All the best to your next adventures and till our roads cross again! 🙂

    Like

    • Hi Cheryl!
      I’m doing good. I guess Michelle told you about this post, didn’t she? 🙂 Thanks for your nice words! But life is fair, you got the summit, I got the moon shot. 🙂 Just kidding! I stayed right at the end of the second third way to the summit, so I had enough time to try capturing that full moon. In the meantime, I was looking up to the summit and noticed some people had already got there. You and Michelle are really amazing! All the best for your next climbs and till our roads cross again! 🙂

      Like

  38. Haha that part on Malaysians and Singaporeans got me there 😛 Being Malaysian my legs didn’t cramp up when I climbed Merapi, but I was out of stamina and very nauseous. Congratulations for making it to the top!

    Like

    • Yea, he got a point, didn’t he? 🙂 Merapi is such a tough hike as well, and more dangerous than Rinjani. But I’m glad you made it back safely. Thanks Ruzhi, but I didn’t make it to the top, but almost. 🙂

      Like

  39. peaktopeakadventure says:

    How did you get the picture of the moon to stand out so brilliantly. Amazing shots!

    Like

    • Well, first of all I didn’t bring a tripod. So what I did was trying to keep my hands steady while taking pictures, lots of pictures! It was cold up there so wearing the proper outfit helped a lot. When I’ve got the angle that I wanted, then I focused on that and paying more attention to the horizon and the composition. But above all, I was quite lucky I guess. 🙂 Thanks Glen!

      Like

  40. Pingback: Going to Mt. Rinjani’s Mystifying Danau Segara Anak | Indonesian hotels guide

  41. Hello, I am new to the blogging world. I see that you have a good audience on your blog. I am an author and I just published my autobiography. I self published so I need to market it on my own. I want to raise awareness about my book so that it can reach and impact as many people as possible. If you can put this on your blog for your readers I would greatly appreciate it. I see that you have quite the following and it would really help if I had somebody with experience to help me promote my book. Thank you!! If you can even go to my blog and ‘reblog’ my post about my book that would be awesome thank you so much!! Even if you can support me by reading my book that would be awesome!!

    http://www.createspace.com/4271634

    http://f4ischer.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/top-story-i-have-published-my-autobiography/

    Like

    • Thanks Tali! It has completely healed now, luckily. I ran last Sunday, the first time after coming back from Rinjani, and I was fine. 🙂 Keep traveling too!

      Like

      • That’s great Bama, I wonder which mountain you’ll be summiting next? There’s no question of me stopping travelling, I’m off to Spain in 3 weeks! 🙂

        Like

      • Well, I’ll take things easier on my next trip and I dunno where I will go climb a mountain again. But I know I will. 🙂 Wow! That’s really great that you’ll be in Spain for 3 weeks! My best friend used to live for almost a year in Spain and he always raves how beautiful and diverse the country is. One of dream destinations for sure. Enjoy your time in Spain!

        Like

      • Yes, take it easy – you don’t want to have to stop travelling so you can spend time recovering! I am lucky, I’ll be in Spain for almost 10 months! I lived there in University and like your friend I just loved it. It has such a great way of life, amazing food and incredibly beautiful and diverse countryside. I hope you can make it there one day 🙂

        Like

      • 10 months? Wow, I couldn’t be more jealous! In a good way. 🙂 Thanks Tali and enjoy Spain, every little thing of it!

        Like

    • Thanks a lot!!! I can see why you want to go back to Lombok. It’s a really beautiful island, indeed! But I seriously envy you , in a positive way, for your adventures in Iceland! It’s been on the list one of the countries I want to visit the most for years. 🙂

      Like

  42. Chris says:

    Hi there, i would like to know more about your hiking trip at Mount Rinjani, Can you share with me, things that need to bring and weather.

    Chris

    Like

    • Hi Chris,
      Basically you only need to bring a jacket, gloves, hiking shoes, hiking poles (if you need them), apart from warm clothes and other basic things. The tent, sleeping bag, and other hiking equipment are provided by the trekking company. According to my guide, Rinjani is closed from January to March during rainy season.
      Hope you have a nice hike!

      Like

    • Thanks Jeff! If climbing a volcano is one of the things that excite you the most, you definitely should go to Rinjani. It’s really worth the effort.

      Like

    • Even reaching the crater rim was so hard. I couldn’t agree more with you, hiking Rinjani must be one of the best adventure trips in Indonesia. Danke schön for your photos! They bring back some good memories. 🙂

      Like

  43. Confined Writer says:

    You are suddenly making what I’m doing this year, 3 years backpacking across the world, seem not much of a big deal lol But it is nice to see places that I plan on going to also!

    I just have a few questions, what kind of camera do you use?

    also, I want to use a camcorder as well to document just hanging out with the people I meet. What camcorder would you recommend? Small and portiable is important, but I don’t want something that will fog up all the time :/

    thanks for your time, and have fun!

    Like

    • Wow, 3 full years?! That’s really amazing! I use a Canon EOS 500D (also known as Rebel T1i) and sometimes my cellphone camera. I’ve been eyeing on mirrorless cameras now as they’re so light but give the same quality as serious DSLR cameras. If you want to make videos while traveling, maybe you should consider GoPro. The quality is amazing!
      Best wishes for your travels!

      Like

  44. Ereen says:

    Hi there! Well done on your climb. I did mine in the end of August. Rinjani was my first ever mountain climbing experience and it was gruelling obviously. I climbed with a torn MCL and came home with both MCL and LCL tear! My medial meniscus was also damaged from a fall while descending. With your injuries I can imagine the descent must be agonizing!
    After saying all these, I had no regrets whatsoever!
    Well done!

    ~Ereen~
    (I’m still walking with crutches now!)

    Like

    • Oh dear, sounds like you had a really hard time at Rinjani. I do hope you recover real soon so you can travel and do more adventure stuff in the near future. As in for Rinjani, sometimes I still can’t believe I did it because that’s not a place for the faint of heart. But like you said, there’s no regret at all.
      Get well soon Ereen!

      Like

  45. Your entire trip is like a story. You have further enhanced it by adding photographs. All the pics are postcard pics.All in all, this is a brilliant blog.

    Like

    • Thanks Sanchita! Writing down notes from the hike was the first thing I did after finishing those three most physically challenging days of my life, hence the experience and emotion were still fresh from my memory. I really appreciate your kind words.

      Like

  46. Pingback: Follow your dreams | Myriad Notions

    • Incredible is one of those words to describe Rinjani. It’s nothing like what I’ve been to before.

      Like

  47. shawski23 says:

    Nicely done, this is so well put together! Respect for conquering the mountain also, must have felt invisible afterwards.

    Like

  48. shawski23 says:

    Oops, meant to write invincible! Invisible would not have been a good outcome from the expedition:)

    Like

    • Thank you! Invincible might not be the right word to describe how I felt, but from up there everything was so beautiful, spectacular, breathtaking, you name it. 🙂

      Like

    • Thanks! Most of beautiful things are hard to get, including the view from Rinjani. Despite the difficult hike, the view from up there was really worth the effort.

      Like

  49. Hai mas, first comment from me in here. hehe
    What a stunning photography and of course beautiful view of Rinjani mountain. I always keep it in my mind and hope I can climb it.

    Like

    • Halo Bobby,
      Thank you! You’ve climbed Semeru, so Rinjani wouldn’t be too much of a surprise for you. But don’t forget to bring enough water next time you climb such tall mountain! 🙂

      Like

  50. WOW! Beautiful photos and writing! I’m planning on climbing mount Batur next week on my trip to Bali. I had hoped to climb Mount Rinjani as well but because of the rainy season it is closed, next time!! Love your blog 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks Emily! A friend of mine climbed Mt.Batur a few years ago to catch the sunrise and his photos are beautiful, you can actually see Mt.Rinjani from the summit, weather permitting of course. Good luck with your adventure in Bali!

      Like

  51. Pingback: So nice | Hey, I am here

    • Thank you! Indonesia has been so underrated for a very long time, shadowed by its more popular neighbors like Malaysia and Thailand. I really like how you say it gives to its guests. 🙂

      Like

  52. What an amazing article! Read from start to finish with extended viewing of the pictures! Very beautifully written piece. You have my follow as well,. If you ever get the chance, please check out my blog: http://danielccooper.wordpress.com/ about my experiences and adventures in Asia, as well as my future intended voyages, I’m still an undergrad but I’ve been to asia more then once, and I would like to encourage more people to make that stride.

    Like

    • Hi Daniel. Thank you for your kind words! It’s good to know that more Americans travel to Asia and immerse in local cultures. Hope you’ll make it to Southeast Asia in the near future! 🙂

      Like

  53. Great photos of the clouds rolling over the mountain! I first fell in love with trekking after climbing Mount Merapi and witnessing the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen in my life. Merapi is probably far less strenuous than Rinjani, but it was still such an ordeal for me!! But since then, I have learned to love the ‘pain’ trekking brings, for they make you appreciate the views so much more 🙂 One day – I shall climb Rinjani too, especially after seeing your pictures, and reading your account of the hike!

    Like

    • Thanks Yidian. Even though Merapi is not as high as Rinjani, it’s a far more dangerous volcano due to its violent and unpredictable nature. It’s good that you’ve already had an experience climbing a high volcano prior to climbing Rinjani. Trust me, your experience would prove useful.

      Like

  54. Whoah. I climbed Rinjani in the very same month that you & friends did! What are the odds…

    Great photos btw. Why did you give the hot springs a miss? To me that was one of the highlights. I still daydream about the springs sometimes. I remember how heavenly it was, after 2D1N of trekking, sleeping in uncomfortable cold, to lie back in the spring after dark… just letting the hot water wrap its warmth over me… looking up at the brilliant multitude of twinkling stars in the sky… oh… now I feel like writing an entry about Rinjani too 😉

    And the view of the “little” volcano from the rim! I think that view beats the summit 🙂

    Like

    • Maybe we did bump into each other without realizing it! 🙂
      Thanks Heidi. I decided to skip the hot spring because I barely had enough energy to go from the banks of Segara Anak to the next base camp at Pelawangan Senaru. That means if I spent time at the hot springs, I would probably have not made it to the base camp before sunset. And I think I made the right decision. If there was one thing I regret the most would be my lack of preparation prior to the trip itself. Had I been much fitter, I would have done more! 🙂
      However Rinjani is definitely one of those places which will lingers in my mind for years to come.

      Like

    • Thank you, Danielle. I’m glad my resolution inspires you. But the most important thing is enjoying every single step you take in moving towards that goal, not the goal itself. 🙂

      Like

  55. What a journey! Beautifully told, I felt like I was there, but I wasn’t, and now I want to go. It reminded me of my trip to Mount Bromo on Java – but we rode mules most of the way… Your photos are fantastic.

    Like

    • Thank you. I have to say that Rinjani was much harder and physically challenging than Bromo. However, as with any mountain hike, all the efforts will eventually pay off with the spectacular view from up there.

      Like

    • Thanks, Micah. That’s very kind of you. I’m glad the weather was nice despite the grueling hike.

      Like

  56. stunning photos you captured there! I am thinking of heading for a Mt Rinjani hike, and thankful to stumble upon your blog. Makes me want to go there more, Love your shots!!

    Like

    • Hi Pin. It’s good that you love hiking because Mt. Rinjani proves to be very challenging even for experienced hikers. So prepare yourself well. You won’t regret it when you’re up there. Thank you for your kind words too!

      Like

  57. Thanks for the detailed account of your hike! It will give me some idea of what we are up against. We are thinking of doing a 2nt, 3day trip just to the crater and lake without the summit.

    Like

    • Hi Jeff. Hmmm, I think you can do the summit. 🙂 But it’s your call, see if you’re tempted to go further once you’re at the crater rim. Good luck and stay safe!

      Like

  58. Pingback: Behind the Scenes at What an Amazing World! | What an Amazing World!

    • It was a 3D/2N hike. We had porters, but they carried our tents and food. So we had to bring our own hiking backpacks.

      Like

  59. Great post! thanks for your post about Lombok that we proud. as im from Lombok, I really appreciated it. once again thank you, hope you will visit here again soon.

    Like

    • Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Lombok truly is one beautiful island with so many picturesque beaches and a great volcano to climb. 🙂

      Like

  60. Great blog and yes your photos are beautiful, esp. the moon one.
    I am considering a visit to Rinjani later in the year and would love to know what your fitness levels were before you began this incredible journey… I thought I was doing OK with my preparation but now am a little nervous.
    thank you!

    Like

    • Thank you, JP. I ran two or three times a week for about three months prior to the trip and I thought that was okay, but I was wrong. Then before I embarked on my six-month trip a few months ago I cycled to work five times a week for one and a half years, and that really helped me with some of hikes I did. Just make sure to increase the intensity of your preparation. Good luck!

      Like

  61. Pingback: Trekking Rinjani Tips and Advice | Planet Bell

  62. Hi Bama,

    Prior to hiking, you jogged three times per week for three months.

    How long and far was your jogging for each session?

    Like

    • Hi Y,

      Each session was only less than half an hour. Next time when I plan to climb such a high mountain again I know I should practice longer and add the intensity of my exercise.

      Like

  63. Pingback: The Banda Islands: Land and Sea | What an Amazing World!

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