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If you can hike the Rocky Mountains, you can hike Mount Rinjani in Indonesia

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

I've been to the top of many peaks in the Rocky Mountains. So, the second tallest-peak in Indonesia felt accomplishable.

Photo of me, the trekking guide, and two others on the top of Mount Rinjani in Indonesia.

In the South Pacific lives an incredibly stunning chain of volcanic mountains. Indonesia is entirely comprised of volcanic islands all united by their location but not by language or culture.


Each of Indonesia’s islands has its own culture, language, and sometimes religion. So visiting more than one is advised if you’re a mountain lover in pursuit of the most beautiful naturescapes and cultural learnings.


When visiting the island of Lombok just west of the popular island, Bali, we discovered the second tallest volcanic mountain in Indonesia: Mount Rinjani. After doing our research, we knew this was a mountain we wanted to visit and enjoy.


About Mount Rinjani


Standing at 12,224 feet (3,726 meters) above sea level, this green giant is quite the sight. Mount Rinjani is a volcano mountain situated in the northern part of Lombok. The mountain has several natural landscapes. It begins as a tropical jungle at the base, then it progressively gets drier to become a high desert at the summit. On top of the mixed terrain, there are several species of animals on Mount Rinjani. Agricultural communities surround the mountain so medium-sized cows can be found closer to the base where there is ample grass and shrubs for them to nibble on. Higher up, you’ll find monkeys who are more than willing to steal your food along the route as well as several bird species flying high at elevations near the summit.


The mountain has diverse foliage, too. Trees, shrubs, and other plants can be found closer to the base fed by vast rivers carving their way through the mountain. As you get closer to the top, the plants become more sparse and dry, much like what you’d see at higher elevations in Utah or Arizona in the USA. The soil is medium-brown and clearly volcanic. Mount Rinjani’s last eruption was in 2016 so the volcano is definitely active and, therefore, has nutrient-rich soil all around.


What struck me most about Mount Rinjani’s landscape is how similar it is to the Rocky Mountains. The Rockies don’t have active volcanoes, sure, but the terrain, especially in the dry season between April and October, looks very similar to what I’ve traversed in Colorado on the Front Range. Dry, solid soil with plenty of big and small rocks can be found on Mount Rinjani and some trails remind me of what I've hiked in the areas around Boulder, Colorado.


The big difference is that Mount Rinjani has a lot of sand on it. Unlike the Rocky Mountains, Mount Rinjani has several sandy patches that require careful steps to navigate. At times, traversing the terrain can feel like you’re moving one step forward to slide two steps back.


Overall, the terrain is very similar to what I’ve seen in the Rocky Mountains, so if you can do those, you can definitely hike Mount Rinjani.


Here’s how to get to this beautiful volcano to begin your trek.


Photo of people stepping into a Blue Water Express fast boat

How to get to Mount Rinjani


The first thing you need to do is fly into Indonesia. I came from Colorado, USA, and found a convenient set of flights from Denver to San Francisco to Singapore to Bali. Then, we took a fast boat to Lombok. Blue Water Express was our fast boat carrier of choice and it was a good one. It was on time, professional, and had a nice interior. For about $49 a person and 2.5 hours of your time, you can travel one way from Bali to Lombok via fast boat. I recommend arriving at the Bangsal port in Lombok since it’s the closest one to Mount Rinjani and is an easy place for taxis and hotel valet to pick you up.


Speaking of hotels, you’re going to want to choose the right hotel or trekking organization to take you up the mountain. More on that later. But if you choose a trekking organization that also has a hotel attached to it, you can arrange for the hotel to pick you up from the Bangsal port.


The drive from the Bangsal ferry port to a hotel near Mount Rinjani is about 1.5 hours.


Alternatively, you can fly to Lombok International Airport and hotels all over the island are happy to pick you up, free of charge. The drive from the airport to a hotel near Mount Rinjani is about 2.5 hours.



Photo credit: Trip Advisor; photo of outside of hotel rooms with green palm trees and patios


Where to stay near Mount Rinjani


If you’re looking for an all-in-one option that offers a hotel stay including meals and excellent trekking services, I couldn’t recommend Green Rinjani more. The Green Rinjani Guest House & Restaurant offers private suites that can house you before and after your trek up the mountain. They’ve also got a full-service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. The restaurant’s food is free of charge as long as you’re booked for one of their treks or staying at least one night with them. For the price of 350,000 Indonesian Rupiah or $23 USD, you can stay with them for a good night’s rest and get two healthy meals.


As mentioned, Green Rinjani isn’t just a hotel–it’s a trekking service provider with excellent offerings. You can do a number of hikes on Mountain Rinjani including 2-day and 1-night hikes to the summit or multi-day hikes that visit the summit, lakes, nearby waterfalls, and more. We opted for the 2-day, 1-night hike to the summit and it was an excellent choice for us.


For $250 per person, we booked a deluxe trekking package that included a porter bringing camping gear up to the base camp, setting up the campsite, and even cooking us a hot dinner and breakfast. It’s a wonderful experience that literally takes the weight off of your shoulders while you’re on your trek.


One of the things that makes Green Rinjani stand out in the field of trekking service providers is that they have explicit green initiatives that help the environment. Your trekking guide will pick up plastic bottles and litter along the trail in an effort to keep the mountain cleaner for everyone. In addition, they plant a tree after the trek to help combat deforestation and give back to the environment. With thousands of hikers trekking through the area each year, it makes a difference that your journey includes picking up trash and leaving a tree in return for enjoying the area.


Overall, considering the price, the expertise of the trekking guide, and the professionality of the organization, Green Rinjani was the best accommodation and hiking experience we could have asked for.


Photo of me with a small green backpack facing a volcanic lake on Mount Rinjani

What to pack for a trek on Mount Rinjani


Now that you’re convinced Mount Rinjani should be on the itinerary for your next trip to Indonesia, here are a few things you should be sure to pack that your trekking organization will not provide for you.


  • Headlamp

  • Small backpack or day pack

  • Hiking shoes

  • Windbreaker and a warm puffy jacket

  • Long pants

  • Two t-shirts

  • One pair of flip flops

  • Toiletries

  • Altitude sickness pills (optional)


This is enough for the 2-day, 1-night trek, but for longer trips, you should certainly pack more.


The trekking organization will provide:

  • Food and drinks

  • Cooking supplies

  • Tent

  • Sleeping bag and blow-up mattress

  • Camping toilet tent

  • Camping chairs and a table

  • First aid kit


In essence, all you need to bring are the clothes on your back and whatever else you need for your bodily needs. The rest is handled by your porters and trekking guide.


Photo of the Green Rinjani trekking map

The schedule for hiking to the Mount Rinjani Summit


When we were with Green Rinjani staff, this was the schedule we followed for a 2-day, 1-night trek:

  • Wake up at 6:00 am

  • Eat breakfast at 6:30 am

  • Leave Green Rinjani between 7;00 and 7:30 am

  • Get a brief health check-up for 10 minutes along the route (includes a blood pressure check, height, and weight)

  • Get to the base of the mountain at 8:30 or 9:00 am

  • Start the trek

  • Rest at four different posts, eat lunch at post two

  • Arrive at base camp and rest OR opt for the one-day summit tour (that’s what we did and even though it was exhausting, it made day two really easy)

  • Do the summit on day two or go from base camp down to the base of the mountain


If you can hike the Rocky Mountains and you have great stamina, you can get to the summit in one day. It takes about 8 hours of continuous walking with lots of breaks in between. If you don’t have a lot of stamina, opt for hiking to base camp on the first day (takes about 6 hours), rest, then wake up on day two and do the summit and descent (the final ascent plus descent takes about 7-8 hours).





Video of the base camp of Mount Rinjani


FAQs


Q: What’s the weather on the mountain?

A: For the dry season between April and October, the day starts with no clouds in the sky and at a fairly warm temperature of about 75° F or 23° C. From there, the clouds roll in around noon and stay into the evening. The day gets progressively hotter as the sun shifts in the sky with temperatures reaching 80°+ F or 26°+ C. However, when you reach the summit, it becomes windy and cold so be sure to bring a puffy jacket and/or windbreaker. Once the sun goes down, it gets very cold on the summit, around 37° F or 3° C, and sleeping at the base camp can get as low as 50° F or 10° C. In the dry season, you don’t have to worry about rain, but in the rainy season, pack accordingly.


Q: Are there a lot of trekkers along the route?

A: Yes! According to some estimates, upwards of 60,000 trekkers attempt Mount Rinjani every year. However, according to my trekking guide, only about 50% make it to the summit. So, you will see many trekkers before base camp and progressively fewer as you approach the summit.


Q: Do the guides speak English?

A: Yes, the guides speak decent English. Since Indonesia is close to Australia, most guides understand British or Australian English well. However, I’ve been told American English is easier for them to understand and can often be the preferred dialect. Many Indonesians learn English in school so they can listen and understand well but speaking or having a conversation may be difficult or limited. However, your trekking guide will be one of the most well-spoken staff from the company so trust they will understand your needs and concerns when on the journey.


Q: Do we have to carry our own stuff?

A: Since trekking companies often hire porters, you only need to carry what’s essential to your bodily needs like clothes, medicine, and toiletries. The porters and trekking guide will carry your tent, camping gear, food, and water.


Q: How many bags should I bring?

A: For a 2-day, 1-night trek, don’t bring more than one day pack. This could be a medium-sized backpack that can carry one or two changes of clothes, a small amount of toiletries, and perhaps a pair of flip-flops. We saw many hikers carrying more than they needed and with steep inclines along the route, they were exhausted halfway through. My boyfriend and I did very well because we packed light. I recommend that to anyone attempting to do the trek in two days.


Q: If we get injured, what happens?

A: The trekking guides have been scaling this mountain for years. They’re often very experienced with minor injuries like rolled ankles, cuts, and scrapes. They carry a first aid kit and can definitely assist. For more severe injuries, there are four posts that you stop at during the journey. Up until post two, there is motorcycle access, and there are many ways for someone to transport you down the mountain via motorbike in the case of an emergency. In addition, porters who bring the gear up the mountain are used to carrying up to 50 kilos or 100 pounds on their backs. They are certainly strong enough to carry an injured person down to a lower post and help them get onto a motorcycle for transport down to the base.


Ready for your trek to Mount Rinjani?

I assure you, if you’re an avid mountaineer who’s traversed the Rocky Mountains before, you can definitely do Mount Rinjani. It won’t be easy but it will be right up your alley. The reward of above-the-cloud views and breathtakingly beautiful terrain will be worth it. So the next time you visit Indonesia, make sure Mount Rinjani is on your agenda.


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