Lombok

Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Asia, Indonesia, Travel | 0 comments

Lombok

Not as famous as it’s neighbour Bali, Lombok is becoming more and more popular as people discover it’s stunning white sand beaches offering surfing and diving paradise, and the hikers dream of Mt Rinjani which towers over the island.

 

The Gilis

Just off the coast of Lombok are three picture perfect little islands called the Gilis.  Each island is unique and has it’s own characteristics.  Gili Trawangan or “Gili T” is largest and is the party island where the young kids go to have fun, Gili Meno is the smallest and a quiet romantic escape, and Gili Air is supposed to be the perfect blend of both (I haven’t been to Gili Air).

We stayed on Gili Meno and I absolutely loved it.  Meno is a very small island and the perimeter can be walked in around half an hour.  There’s no motorised transport, you can take a horse drawn ride if you feel the need when you arrive with your luggage, but it’s not far to walk anywhere.

We stayed at Meno Dream Resort, which was everything we needed and more.  Run by Made and his partner, they are very friendly and helpful.  Made cooks the most amazing meals, and is always up for a game of table tennis.  There island has limited fresh water, so the showers are salt water which felt somewhat counter-intuitive, but you get used to it pretty quickly.

Meno Dream is located inside the island, but it’s only a five minute walk to the beach.  The water is full of sea turtles, partly due to the sanctuary they have on Meno which releases them into the water when they are big enough.

 

Gili Meno

Gili Meno

 

We spent three days diving with Gili Meno Divers who were wonderful and very knowledgeable.  Another benefit of being on Meno which is quieter was that often the dive boats out of Gili T or Gili Air were crowded and full, whereas we would often have the boat to ourselves.

The diving was fun, there is plenty of coral and fish to see, and the water is warm and clear.  Meno is the kind of place you come when you need to rejuvenate, when you want to take the time to sit and watch the sunset and allow yourself to surrender to the beauty of nature.

 

Climbing Mt Rinjani

We spent a couple of nights in Senggigi at The Beach Club, Senggigi is nice enough but mainly used as a base for getting to the Gilis or Mt Rinjani.  We had planned to climb Mt Rinjani before heading to Indo, so had packed our hiking boots and some warm clothes (one pair of pants and one jumper!).  In Senggigi we enlisted the help of Rinjani Trekking Club to arrange a guide and porters to help us on our adventure.

In typical fashion I rolled my ankle and came down with a flu two days before we were due to leave, but I’d be damned if I’d been carrying those hiking boots in my pack on my tropical holiday for nothing!  We did a three day / two night trek to the top of Mt Rinjani, which covered all terrain and all weather.

On day one we were picked up from our hotel in the early hours of the morning, and by sunrise we were ready to set off from Sembalun village.  Although we had porters to carry our tent, food and water we were responsible for carrying our bag of belongings, which in hindsight was too heavy.  Initially Wayne even had his (very heavy) camera tripod in there, but the guide was quick to pull that out and say a firm no!

We only had one bag, so Wayne wore the pack on his back, but 10kg gets pretty uncomfortable when you’re hiking for 7 hours and over 1,000m up in a day.  There were often times we would need to “spiderman” as our guide called it, i.e. use your arms and legs to pull yourself up the rocks, so you can imagine this is much harder with a weight on your back pulling you backwards.

In saying that, the porters were the most impressive / crazy guys I have ever seen.  These skinny Indonesian guys are either barefoot or wearing haviana thongs and have a wooden pole across their shoulders with baskets on either end that have everything you need in them.  We had two porters who carried about 40kg each, which was all of the gear, food and water for five of us (Wayne and I, the guide and the two porters).

Often when we were navigating a particularly steep or tricky path that required climbing and manoeuvring I would ask the guide what path the porters would take, “this one” he would reply without blinking.  I have no idea how they do it.  Not only do they do it, but they do it faster than any of the foreigners and go ahead to the campsite to set up your tent and start cooking.

It is dangerous and people have died on the mountain, less than a year before we went a woman fell and broke her back.  The porters then had to carry her down off the mountain, as it’s the only way on or off.  This would come to haunt Wayne, as when he was really struggling I would tell him that there literally was no choice, he had to keep going.  In 10 years I’ve never never seen him as defeated as he was climbing Rinjani – it is a difficult trek and not for the faint hearted.

 

Mountain

 

The first day we trekked for about 7 hours from Sembalun village which is 1,050m above sea level to the Sembalun Crater Rim at 2,639m above sea level.  The trek starts out quite flat as initially you just have to get to the base of the volcano, this part is very hot as you’re out in the sun but also relatively easy as you’re walking through savannah grassland.

Once you pass Position 3 you start the serious uphill climbing which is thankfully shaded by trees, but is relentless with an uphill gradient of about 50 degrees.  My sinus was blocked from my flu, which was making it hard for me to equalise as we ascended.  We arrived at the crater rim where we would be camping just before sunset, the view was beautiful, but once the sun went down it was absolutely freezing!  It surprised me that the tropics could get so cold.

 

Emma

 

The next morning we set off down into the crater to Segara Anak crater lake, which sits at 2,008m above sea level.  The lake looks particularly cool as it has the cone Gunung Baru in the middle.  I actually prefer trekking up, going down is steep and slippery and I often found myself sliding towards some intimidating edges.

We stopped for lunch by the lake and there was even a natural hot spring about a 10 minute walk from the lake to help your muscles recover.  After lunch we walked around the edge of the lake and then it was time to head back up on the other side to the Senaru Crater Rim which sits at 2,640m above sea level.  I know, a 600m ascent doesn’t seem too bad does it?

It was actually quite treacherous and precarious, at one point wayne was pulling on a boulder to get up and the entire boulder dislodged, luckily he felt it loosening and moved his head out of the way and there was none behind us.  Later I wanted to stop and take a photo, but our guide nervously ushered us along saying this was not a good place to stop.  It was then that I notice the trees that had been crushed sideways and realised this was a landslide area,  I didn’t need to be told twice!

 

With Lake in the background

With Lake Segara Anak in the background

 

We eventually reached the Senaru Crater Rim where most people had their tents set up for the night.  We needed more water and there weren’t any good spots for us to set up our tent, so our guide decided we would continue on and camp further down.  To get to our campsite we began the descent, there were lots of loose stones and it was quite slippery and hard to see as it was getting dark.  We arrived and settled in for night, Wayne enjoying a hard earned Bintang.

 

Where most tents are set up at Senaru Crater Rim

Where most tents were set up at Senaru Crater Rim

 

Our personal campsite

Our personal campsite

 

The next morning we set off on our final day of hiking down to Senaru Village which sits at just 600m above sea level. This was my least favourite day, the trek was initially loose gravel at an downhill incline of about 45 degrees, and I was continuously slipping and sliding even with my hiking boots on.  From Position 3 you begin to enter the trees, and then it turns to beautiful tropical rainforest.  However once we hit the rainforest it began to pour down rain, turning the track into nothing more than a stream of running muddy water.

When I was feeling frustrated I would remember the porters carrying all the gear with no ponchos or proper shoes.  I was also thankful that it rained on our last day and not our first, as I knew that night I could have a hot shower!  We eventually made it safely to Senaru Village, where we tipped our guide and porters, gave the porters our ponchos and Wayne even donated his hiking boots to our guide.

We had experienced dry grassland, paths of dirt, stones, gravel, mud and running water, lush rainforest, stinking heat and freezing cold.  We took in phenomenal views and got close to beautiful mother nature.  I would do another trek in a heartbeat, but I think I might need to find another trekking buddy!  😉

 

Kuta, Lombok

Making friends

Making friends

We headed straight to Kuta after coming off Rinjani and it was the perfect place to unwind and relax.  Not to be confused with Kuta on Bali which is crazy busy and full of rowdy tourists, Kuta on Lombok is a sleepy beachside spot popular with surfers.

We stayed at Yuli’s Homestay which was excellent, she was very professional and helpful.  There’s a pool, wifi, the rooms are new and clean, and best of all there was even a gorgeous puppy roaming about when we were there!

Make sure you hire a scooter so you can go and explore the beaches (we just hired one from Yuli), my favourite beach was Selong Belanak which is pictured below, the restaurant Laut Biru there is excellent as well.  Life’s pretty good when people are bringing you drinks as you lay on the beach under a tree reading a book.

We went to check out the Novotel hotel for a massage and a meal, the resort is nice but it’s in it’s own little bubble and frankly you could be in any big resort in any tropical location.  Many of the local restaurants are good, you might have to pay a nominal “parking fee” to park your scooter, but that means it will still be there when you come back!

There were large sites pegged for development, so my advice is to get here sooner rather than later before it becomes a tourist trap.

 

Exploring Lombok

Road block!

 

Selong Belanak Beach

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