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Serious hikers should explore the options of staying on the mountain for 3 nights or more with a planned trek that takes in the crater rim, down to the lake shore, the absolute summit and more. Such treks normally start in either Senaru or Sambulan Lawang however in the last couple of years some other routes have opened including the Benang Stokel, Timbanuh and Torean routes.
Senaru ascent route
This is by far the most used route as it allows the (relatively) less strenuous trek to the crater rim only. You start at an elevation of 600 m in Senaru village, normally in the morning, you will make the 6 hour ascent to the crater rim before dark. First part of the trek is through tropical rain forest. Look and listen out for the lutung (black monkey), swinging through the trees in the morning. They are extremely shy, unlike for the common macaques which may gather near rest stops waiting for scraps. The route passes through pos 1 (1,115m asl), pos 2 at 1,500m asl, breaches the tree line at 2,000 m (pos 3) and then it is a bit of slog up gravel paths to the camp site just below the crater rim at 2,600 m. After pos 3, the trip will be a little hot because it is a desert savanna and the lack of trees till crater rim, but there is a pos extra, but it is pretty much gone, and the remaining bits have been chopped up by porters as firewood. If it has not spent all your energy, then you can go on to the lake and hot springs. You need some confidence to do this because you're going down the hillside along 600 m to reach the lake shore
And then it is back to Senaru the way you came. Local guides claim going down is faster, but speed varies for individuals. Patience is vital for first timers, as it can get frustrating watching porters sail past you with their load balanced on one shoulder, clad in slippers or even walking barefoot. Descent from pos extra to pos 3 can be slippery when weather is dry, as screw tends to give way under your feet. From pos 3 to pos 2, the descent can take 1.5 to 2 hours, as savanna grasslands fades away, and the humidity and heat from the tropical rain forest begins to set in. Useful tip: request for guides to cut out a wooden trekking pole if you did not bring a trekking pole with you. It will be extremely handy during the descent, especially when legs are aching from the strenuous climb.
There is an option to go on to Plawangan II where you overnight again before making the ascent to the absolute summit. This is not especially recommended from the Senaru side though. If you want to get to the top, the climb to Plawangan II is best made from Sembalun Lawang.
Sembalun ascent route
Starting in the morning from the Rinjani Trek Centre in the village, the climb to Plawangan II at 2,638m will take about 8 hr via pos 1 (1,300m), pos 2 (1,500m) and pos 3 (1,800m). Starting altitude is 1100m, so there are no humid conditions to deal with. First half or more of the trek is literally a breeze. The trek through savanna, grassland is windy and easygoing, with gentle ups and downs, and the only obstacle to look out for are the “cow pats” deposited by the villagers’ cows along the way. Rolling hills and amazing scenery help to ease the tiredness, unlike the enclosed tropical rain forest of Senaru route.
From pos 2 to pos 3, the climb is still manageable. The challenge for Sembalun route is from pos 3 to pos extra, as the uphill gradient can be 50 degrees at times. Young children will find this section challenging as some steps are set quite far apart. Cooler weather up here may give the impression that the body does not need fluids, but do drink more to prevent altitude sickness setting in. Strangely, there is a guy selling cold drinks (Pocari sweat, Coke etc) here at the campsite at exorbitant prices (IDR 40000 per drink) for those who crave it. Overnight at the campsite here and go for the summit starting at 2.30am the next day. You need to rest well rested for the next day will be more severe. ascent to the summit takes normally 3.5 hours and the terrain is quite danger because it is located on the crater rim with a width of 1-3 meters. the course is quite difficult because of the sandy and former lava rocks.
Via Sembalun | Via Senaru|