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INDONESIA, JOURNEY UNTOLD
LOMBOK - Gunung Rinjani | Journey | Every Traveler's Pride | And Ordeal | Den
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LOMBOK Gunung Rinjani

Lombok's Gunung Rinjani is huge: in fact, it's the biggest peak in Indonesia outside Irian Jaya, which has mountains that make even professionals think twice. The only time you can see the peak from the towns surrounding it is first thing in the morning and last thing at night: it's so big that clouds form around it after a couple of hours of sunlight, shrouding the crater in mysterious grey swathes. At a height of 3726 meters it's a lot bigger than anything else I'd attempted to climb (though I wish I could go and climb the Himalayas), and the walk up to the top from the village of Senaru takes a little over two days of solid mountain hiking.

Most people, by which I mean about 99 per cent of visitors to Rinjani, take a porter to carry all the food, camping equipment and so on. These porters, who double as guides, are astounding: walking up sheer mountain paths with everything strapped to two ends of a bamboo pole that they balance on their shoulders, they manage to traverse sharp pumice trails with nothing but flimsy sandals on their feet. The weights they carry are nothing short of backbreaking, and you never hear a word of complaint as they trudge their way round the park. So, most people load up their porters and do the walk with just a day pack, carrying maybe some water and warm clothing. But I decided I wasn't most people, so I packed up my tent and sleeping mat, and eight ready-cooked meals of nasi goreng wrapped in banana leaves, and set off into Rinjani national park with a heavy pack and a hastily-copied map of the area that looked more like something from The Hobbit than a serious proposition. The pack weighed quite a bit, the other tourists thought I was crazy, and I started up the track at 7am on Saturday 20th September.

BADA VALLEY | GUNUNG RINJANI | UJUNG PANDANG | MAURMERE | RANTEPAO | TOGIAN ISLAND