When you want to climb the Rinjani, people might tell you that you need a guide. Are you allowed to climb the Rinjani by yourself? A simple answer is: yes you can, a guide is not mandatory. At the entrance of the park you need to sign a paper that you are well prepared and responsible for your own safety. Read more on their website.
Having said that, you might wanna consider taking a guide. In this article you can read the pro’s and con’s of trekking the Rinjani without a guide.
- You never walk alone. At the entrance we met a guide who asked: where is your guide? I said we were doing the trek alone. He answered: “Great! You can follow us. It’s better for everyone.”
Never a shortage of food and friends. Along the road groups of Indonesian trekkers will ask you: “Where is you guide? You are alone? Wow you are strong! You have enough food? Take some fresh fish from the lake!”
No pain, no gain. By climbing with a heavy backpack you gain respect from fellow trekkers. You are carrying a 15kg back on a steep mountain trek, while you pass a group of suffering hikers who just carry a bottle of water. You suffer more, but the achievement is higher, and more satisfying.
- Feel more free. When we arrived on top of the Rinjani, a guide allowed his group just 15 minutes on the top to take pictures. Then they were rushed down because they had to be back in time. First you suffer a four hour death, then you can make two selfies and then it’s time to go down. We could stay on the top and take as much time as we wanted. At the hot water springs we could swim the entire day, while the group had to be back for dinner.
Environmental awareness. You will realize that the trek of the Rinjani is full of rubbish. This is because many porters don’t wanna carry your trash and will leave it behind. When you travel alone you are more aware of the trash you leave behind. I heard many people complain about the trash, but I haven’t seen any tourist picking up or carrying their own trash.
It is good for your wallet. Per person we spent 150.000 Rupiah on the entrence fee, 60.000 for gear (I have my own tent) and 50.000 for food and water. So around 300.000 (we took an expensive taxi back from Sembulan to Seneru: 100.000 a person). Compared to an organized tour with ten other people: 1.200.000. The money we saved, we spent on Bintangs on the top of the rim (90.000 for one).
- No burden on your shoulders. The most important pro for having porters is that you don’t have to carry so much. The trek can get very steep and exhausting so a trained porter is for a lot of people a necessity instead of luxury. We are two pretty fit guys, And we were having a hard time. A lot of people we met were already suffering without carrying their own bag. Then again, all the indonesians (girls and guys with different physiologies) carry their own stuff and I didn’t see one of them complain.
- Walk Eat Sleep. When you arrive someone has prepared a meal for you: either half cooked pancakes or rice with a bit of curry. Although the food isn’t the best, it is nice to enjoy the view without having to cook first. You don’t have to pitch your tent, because they have already done that for you.
- Responsibility. It might give a feeling of safety to know there is someone responsible. The guide will make sure you don’t get lost or don’t stay behind.
In the end I am happy I climbed the Rinjani without a guide, because it felt like an achievement and I made great friends on the road. But I would not recommend it if you don’t feel fit enough.
If you decide to climb the Rinjani by yourself here is a pack list:
- Enough water (if you go from Seneru to Sembulan you need water for two days. which is around 6 liters). There are water sources on the top of the rim and at the hot springs.
- Enough food (lots of snacks like chocolate, eggs, bananas and peanuts).
- Warm clothes, socks, wind jacket, gloves, vest. The nights get pretty cold. Especially the walk to the rim. I slept pretty badly because my sleeping bag was not warm enough.
- Other things: Head torch, army knife, stove, cooking gear, cups, tea, tent, sleeping bag, mat. (you can rent a lot of camping gear at Seneru or in Mataram)
If you want the convenience but also the freedom, you can also find a freelance guide. I met two really nice guides on the trek. They treated us very well. They organize treks without a group. One guide is a young, enthusiastic guy called Dul Dir: +62 81 339 878 002. The other guide is a veteran with a surfing Buddhist monk lifestyle. He will only take you if he feels like it or if the waves are bad for surfing: he didn’t give me his number, because he doesn’t need the business. But you can go to the New Moon Hotel in Senggigi and ask around for Budi. I don’t get a commission, I just really like the guys and I am sure they would make your trip worthwhile.