The mighty Rinjani mountain of Gunung Rinjani is a massive volcano which towers over the island of Lombok. A climb to the top is one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have in Indonesia. At 3,726 meters tall, Gunung Rinjani is the second highest mountain in Indonesia. The climb to the top may not be easy but it’s worth it, and is widely regarded as one of the best views in the country. Part of the famous ‘ring of fire’ this mountain also holds spiritual significance for the local people. It’s thought that the name Rinjani comes from an old Javanese term for ‘God’. Around the slopes of Rinjani there are lush forests sprinkled with waterfalls and surrounded by stunning scenery. Within the mountain is a crescent shaped lake, the breathtaking Segara Anak which is about 6km across at its widest point. This lake of sulfur is located 600 meters below the crater rim. Segara Anak on Mt. Rinjani is considered a holy place, and holds a deep, spiritual significance for the local people. Every fifth full moon, religious ceremonies are held at Segara Anak. During the rituals, small gold fish are released into the lake to honour the goddess Enjini, the queen and ruler of Mount Rinjani. Every five years, there is a larger religious ceremony. Those who attend are not restricted to the people of Lombok, but Hindus from Bali, Java and Kalimantan also gather to embark on this sacred pilgrimage. During the 16th century, the Kingdom of Karangasem of Bali, which was the ruling kingdom at that time, was hit by a long period of drought, resulting in the outbreak of disease. Faced with disaster, King, Anglurah Karangasem held vigil and meditation at the lake. Immediately after, rain soaked the earth, bringing salvation to the people of Lombok. The tradition continues to this day, in absolute loyalty and acknowledgement of a higher presence, beyond that of human life. For three days, thousands of men, women and children scale the steep slopes of Ranjani to Segara Anak, which has been regarded as the spiritual center of the region for hundreds of years. Once at the lake, the crowd will disperse to the nearby caves for silent prayer, chanting and meditation. After the prayers, dozens of animals are sacrificed to represent the cleansing of evil elements from the earth. Nine species of animal are offered in the nine directions of the compass, including buffalo, cows and goats. Following the sacrifice, a number of animals are released into the wild to breed and create a balance of nature, and harmony between the human world and the universe. At the peak of the ceremony, yet another sacrifice is offered. Precious metals of gold, silver and copper are carved into symbols of hope. Shrimp as a symbol of fertility.Turtles as a symbol of the world.Fish as a symbol of life.Birds, as a symbol of the universe.One by one, these objects are then sunk into the lake; expected to be returned with blessings of rain, good health and soil fertility. With this dedication to the gods, the ceremony is almost complete. By this time, evening has fallen. When the full moon is high in the sky, the mask dance is performed to wash away the exhaustion, andas a final declaration of praise to the Supreme ruler of the Universe. With this, the 6-day ceremony has reached its end. Rising from the waters of this lake is a new volcano, Gunung Baru, which is a result of a series of eruptions during the 1990’s. Mount Rinjani lies within the Gunung Rinjani National Park. The park covers 41,330 hectares and sits inside a major bio-geographical transition zone (Wallacea). This is where the tropical flora and fauna of South East Asia meets that of Australasia. This National Park was established in 1997 and is one of over 40 throughout Indonesia. For visitors, the three-day Rinjani trek route from Senaru to the crater rim, down to the Crater Lake then on to Sembalun Lawang, is considered one of the best treks in South East Asia. More adventurous trekkers may want to head all the way to the summit of the volcano. This is best reached from Sembalun Lawang and takes four days, finishing up in Senaru. To ensure that local communities benefit from tourism revenue, the Rinjani Trek is managed by a partnership of National Park officials, the public and private sectors of the Lombok tourism industry and community representatives. Community run cooperatives coordinate the Trek at the Rinjani Trek Center (RTC) in Senaru and the Rinjani Information Center (RIC) in Sembalun Lawang. Revenue from tourism activities and entry fees is used for conservation, management and assisting the National Park with maintenance of the Rinjani Trek, thus ensuring its sustainability. This management model is unique in Indonesia and considered an example of best practice of ecotourism in Indonesia. After the climb Once you’ve climbed the mountain, there are still many wonders left to explore in the park. Discover secluded caves. There are three famous caves here Goa Susu, Goa Payung, and Goa Manik. Susu Cave is a good place for self reflection and is often used as a place to meditate. Rejuvenate in the healing hot springs. The network of springs, called kokok putih, are the perfect place to rest your weary body. Locals believe the springs have healing powers. Water is collected from here and mixed with herbs to make medicinal oil. This is called Siu Satus Tunggal or in Bayan language Siu Satunggal which means that it can be used to cure a thousand types of disease. Local strawberries grow along the route to Mt. Rinjani. While the fruit is red like a strawberry it has thorns like a rose. This fruit has a sweet and slightly sour taste and is good to eat, especially for trekkers who are hungry and thirsty. The Eternal Flower or Edelweiss is a rare and precious plant. The flower cannot be removed from the park. It is a part of the mysterious world of the spirit kingdom. In the past, someone who wanted this flower had to be brave enough to fight and gamble his soul. That is why the flower is called Sandar Nyawa. Gunung Baru is the name of the new volcano which emerged in the center of Segara Anak Lake. People believe that Gunung Baru is the navel of Gunung Rinjani. Tetebatu is a village nestled on the slopes of Rinjani with magnificent views of rice paddies and tobacco plantations. From here, hire a guide to take you to Taman Wisata Tetabu (Monkey Forest) where you’ll find cheeky black monkeys and spectacular waterfalls. Guided village tours can also provide a glimpse of local culture and the opportunity to meet the locals. Tips The climb is not to be taken lightly. You need good hiking boots. Once you arrive at the crater rim it tends to get cold and windy, so you will also need warm clothes. A guide is essential as parts of the path are indistinct. Independent hiking is not recommended. Don’t go there during the rainy season since paths will be slippery. Often it is not possible to climb during rainy season due to the hazard of falling rocks. It’s better to bring your own sleeping bag but, if you don’t have one, they can be hired. Tents can be rented. Get There Senaru and Sembalun Lawang Villages are the two starting points to climb Gunung Rinjani. Senaru Village is a three hour drive north of Mataram, while Sembalun Lawang Village is approximately a four hours drive to the east of Mataram. You can get to Senaru by taking public transport to Bayan and then walking. To Eat Most guides will organize food for you on your trek or you may prefer to take your own supplies. Most trekkers buy their supplies in Mataram or Senggigi.