Gunung Rinjani National Park - Day 173-175

Trip Start Jan 31, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Gunung Rinjani National Park

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day 173 - 12/08/08

Gunung Rinjani completely dominates Lombok, the active volcano covers half the island and is one of the largest active volcano's in Indonesia. I'm hoping to climb this angry 3730 metre peak over the next few days.

Caught the boat from Gili Trawangan to Bangsal at 7am this morning, I'm meeting someone at the docks who'll be taking me to Rinjani National Park. First though, I had a 60km round trip on the back of a scooter to visit the ATM in Senggigi. Have no money left after nearly a week on the Gili's and I needed to pay for my Rinjani trek. Grabbed some cash, then a further 80km ride on the scooter to a village at the foot of Gunang Rinjani at 700 metres above sea level. The main group and guide had already set off 2 hours before I arrived, but a porter waited for me at the national park entrance to lead the way.

Hiked up to 2650 metres today to the crater rim. That's nearly 2000 metres of ascent for the day, but it wasn't as steep and relentless as Kinabalu and a lot more picturesque and enjoyable. The hike started in dense equatorial rainforest but soon opened up into a dusty chaparral type landscape with some great views of Lombok.

I caught up the group around 400 vertical metres from the crater rim. We're camping on the volcano for two nights, both camps will be on the crater rim but in different locations, so the views should be pretty special. Today's hike was only just over 8km but with 2000 metres of ascent, a reasonable tough day. It was completely worth the effort when I reached the rim. An awe inspiring view of the beautiful crater lake and the young volcanic cone. One hell of an eruption created this place but from all that destruction a landscape of exquisite beauty was forged on an epic scale, nature is a wonderful thing!

The sunset tonight was probably the most amazing I've ever seen. From my vantage point above the clouds the summit of Gunung Agung on Bali peaked through the clouds like a triangular rock sat in the snow. The colours and light from the sun as it dipped below the horizon is indescribable. Took some of the best photos I've ever taken of this majestic scene but it's one of experiences where you just had to be there. The photos don't do the awesome view justice.
Day 174 - 13/08/08

Decended 650 steep metres from camp this morning to the shores of the beautiful crater lake from the west rim. A little bit of scrambling was required on a few sections of the dusty trail, nice to use my hands for change and added a bit of variety to this mornings hike. The lake sits in the caldera at 2000 metres and covers an area of 11 square kilometres. Some big fish in there too, saw some locals carrying a couple of big common carp up the trail back to their village. On the northern side of the lake sits an active volcano which is a perfectly symmetrical cone of solidified lava from recent previous eruptions. Reached the beautiful blue waters of the lake and walked round the banks to the hot springs which cascade down the mountain in a series of waterfalls and pools. I dipped my feet and legs into the luke-warm water, nice after a steep morning decent. Then we ascended back up to 2700 metres on a steep dusty track to a saddle on the rim where we camp tonight. We wake up at 2.30am tomorrow morning for the 1000 metre ascent to the summit. The ascent from camp to the summit is suppose to be pretty awful, the terrain is very slippery, dusty and sap's your energy. Looking forward to it!

So much rubbish all over camp, it really pisses me off that people can leave all their crap in such a beautiful place. It's not heavy rubbish either, it's fag packets and sweet rappers. It can easily be carried down! The rubbish at least gives the numerous monkeys something to play with, there are dozens of these cheeky little critters all over camp trying to steal food and generally being mischievous. We were warned not to leave anything around camp as the monkeys have been known to steal shoes and anything they can get there hands on from outside the tents.
Day 175 - 14/08/08

Woke up at 2.30am this morning for some tea and biscuits before starting the long and arduous 1000 metre climb to the top of Rinjani. The climb was pretty tough, especially when I approached the summit. Underfoot is a shale-like volcanic rock which has the same properties as marbles, you take one step forward two steps back. Started the final climb at 3.30am and reached the summit for 5.45am, had a 30 minute wait on the cold windy summit before sunrise. The sun finally rose and warmed my tired old bones at 6.15am. I took far more pleasure climbing Rinjani than Kinabalu, Rinjani has a kind of elegant beauty with it's crater lake and geological activity, it feels more alive. The mountain seems to breath with smoke bellowing from it's young volcanic cone. A massive eruption in 1992 closed the national park for a considerable amount of time and reshaped the volcanic cone. The guide told me the cone is much grander today after the eruption, just hope the bloody thing doesn't blow while I'm there! The shadow cast by Rinjani towards the crater lake was magical as the sun rose, never seen a mountain cast such a prominent shadow before, a perfect black equilateral triangle on the surrounding peaks. An amazing sight!

Ran down from the summit like an Olympic downhill skier. On the way down the volcanic shale marbles accelerate the decent and with my walking poles keeping me steady and my big boots, I was on mission back down to camp with plumes of fine dust in my wake. I must of looked like road runner, beep, beep! Reached camp, had a cup of black tea, some bread and a couple of banana pancakes. Sat on a cliff over looking the lake for an hour or so before tackling the further 2000 metre ascent to a village called Senaru. A big male monkey came really close to me on the cliff so I charged him, and he charged me back showing me his big canines. After the initial shock and the thought of catching Rabies, I kicked some dust in his face and he scampered down the cliff, this monkey had balls.

We decended on a different trail and after 1000 metres of decent the landscape started to look like the Peak district near my home, it was a complete carbon copy, except for the odd solidified lava flow. It felt like I was on one my weekend hikes on an overcast British summers day. A really strange feeling as I meandered through the rolling green hills. The only thing missing was the occasional cow or sheep.

Arrived in the village early afternoon and a Bemo was waiting to take us back to the park gate. Then an uncomfortable and a tight minibus ride back to the docks at Bangsal.

I'm going back to Gili Trawangan, I really love the place, thinking of converting to Islam, marrying a local girl, buying some land and building myself a modest little hut. Will relax here once again and devise a masterplan for the rest of my time in Indonesia.

Difficult to find accommodation again when I arrived on Gili Trawangan. Went back to the same place as I stayed on my last visit but the bungalows were full until tomorrow. Staying with the nice Muslim family tonight who run the bungalows, they offered to put me up. Really generous people, I had dinner with the family and my first shower in 4 days, followed by a philosophical chat with the head of the family about Islam. He spoke English with a funny northern English accent, Allah only knows where he picked that up from :o)

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sea2summit on

wow pictures are wonderful. gunung rinjani is amazing and indonesia by far (for me) gives effortlessly the most beautiful landscape images. planning to drop by gnung rinjani the coming week. id appreciate any thoughts? =)

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