30th Septembre, 1st and 2nd October

 

The alarm clock is set for 4h15 am but we are already ready when it rings since the night has been very hot (maybe 30 degrees), and we’ve been attacked by mosquitoes all night. The guide we met is coming directly to our house by motorbike and we are waiting for his driver to come and pick us up. Around 5 am, the many mosques around us start to call for the first prayer of the day. It is still dark but the street gets animated by people heading to the mosque (mostly men), and people preparing their pickup with food for the market (mostly women). When our driver comes he brings us to Senaru, which is the meeting point with the porters and the other members of the expedition. We are then given a breakfast made of banana pancakes and some delicious tea (in general, the tea in Indonesia is really good !).

After breakfast, we meet our guide, Ryan, and we climb up to the beginning of the route in the back of a pickup with our porters; we need to register to enter the park that encompasses the Rinjani. We enter the park shortly after we start walking, at around 800m high. Then we continue our way up, up, up. We will climb to 2600 meters today, until the edge of the old crater, where we will see the lake filled of turquoise water.

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By the way, Rinjani is one of the most dangerous volcanos in the world. It is now asleep but has had the biggest eruption during the last 7000 years. In 1257, a huge eruption killed most of the people on the island and released an enormous amount of aerosols in the atmosphere. This quantity of dust and ashes was so big that the area was in a complete darkness for weeks, possibly months! The following summer in Europe was very much disturbed and little fruits or cereals could be harnessed that year! Volcanologists say that this eruption was twice bigger than the Krakatoa eruption in 1883, which blown up the entire island and covered most Asia under ashes. The Rinjani was about 4200 meters high at that time. Today, it is “only” 3726 meters, which makes it the second highest mountain in Indonesia.

During this trek, we are 9 tourists, with our guide Ryan, and 5 porters. We meet Martin and Greta (coming from Czech Republic and Slovakia respectively), and He (coming from China) in the morning. At the end of the day, two British join us, Alex and Charlotte, and later a Franco-German couple, Matthias and Anja. The guide and the porters are local people from Lombok.

We are now climbing up in the rain forest, where the vegetation is luxuriant. The humidity content of the air is still quite high and we sweat a lot. On the way we see some monkeys, grey ones and black ones. They are very malicious, trying to steal our food, and showing teeth at us when we get closer.

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Unfortunately, we also see a big amount of waste all along the trail, and all around the camps. These are plastic bottles, gas bottles, food waste! This is very sad to see this in such a magical landscape. We notice that these wastes are not even thrown by tourists but by the porters themselves! These wastes accumulating on the environment have the bad consequence of polluting rivers and changing the local ecosystem (food waste attracts rats, which in return can endanger bird species). However, one should also keep in mind that the porters are carrying between 20 and 30 kg on a bamboo branch, which harming their back quite a lot, and for about 7€ per day.

We reach our campsite in the evening, when it gets dark, cloudy and cold. After a delicious meal (tea, rice and vegetable) we quickly fall asleep, under a magical sky composed of billions and billions of stars! The Milky Way is just so impressive tonight!

Today is a cool day (well, the coolest!). We hike down to the crater and just jump in the lake. The water was smoking from our super-heated bodies! No, it’s a joke but still, it was so delicious to swim in this fairly cold water, in the crater, with a nice view on the 3726 summit which we would climb the following day. Just imagine, you are alone swimming in the lake, with the wonderful view around you, at 2000m of altitude, at the other side of the world! and everyone you know has to go to work today.

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Once again, we really regret having seen so much waste around the lake (plastic, batteries, dead fish!). There is probably a lot in the bottom of the lake too! Before the lunch we walk 5 minutes on a narrow trail, towards the local hot springs. The water emerging from a crack in the rocks is filling basins where we could lay in. In fact, the water is so warm (around 45-50 degrees at the beginning) that we can barely plunge one foot in. The place is somehow supernatural, with a very turquoise water flowing down the rocks, releasing a lot of water vapour. There is a kind of green algae which seems to like a lot this water.

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After good nap all of us start walking up again, to our next base camp at 2700 meters, on the crater ridge on the other side. This evening, our base camp is installed next to one edge of the mountain, with a great view on the lake, the crater and far away, Bali’s volcano.

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When the sunset time arrives, we are witnessing an enchanting firework of colours. The clouds are changing their shape quite rapidly and we see a spectacular show of lights and fires for a good 30 minutes! We know the night is going to be very short since we get up at 2 am tomorrow, but we fall asleep happy from what we had just seen.

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Just 5 of us decided to make it to the summit, and we quickly join the other expeditions, after a short breakfast made of tea and bread. All the expeditions form a snake of light on the mountain. During a few hours, we are going to walk under a sky showing different stars with this time, but always wonderful. The climbing is quite physical because we walk up in an important layer of ashes. Some will say 1 step up, 2 steps down. It’s a bit exaggerated of course but it really takes much more effort to gain some altitude in these conditions. Also, the very thin ashes flying up as we walk in make the air difficult to breath.

At 5h, one hour before sunrise, we arrive first to the summit with Matthias. This morning, we are three guys from Annecy to plant our flag on the summit. By the way: it’s a funny coincidence because, not only Matthias is from Annecy, but he’s also a space engineer just like Julien! He tells us about his very interesting experience in this industry and the time until sunrise goes very fast. As the sun comes close below the horizon we start to notice the Komodo Island’s volcano. This moment is, once again, very intense and we have a lot of fun taking photos. Not long after the sun showed up above the horizon, we contemplate the shadow of our volcano, wrapping Bali’s volcano, on the other side of the summit. How could we regret waking up so early for such an occasion?

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After a short while enjoying the Sun on the summit, we rocket down the volcano, jumping and running down in the ashes, releasing a huge cloud of ashes! It took us two and a half hours to go up, and 30-45 minute to run down! We then meet with our porters again, who had prepared us a delicious breakfast made of pineapple pancake. Finally we walk down the volcano, crossing the savannah-like landscape, in a very dusty trail. We need to leave 20 meters between people in order to brath. Closer to the valley, we see rests of burnt forest (and still burning) to prepare the place for agriculture. We arrive at a small village at 1000 meters of altitude. We spend a good time with one porter on the way down, a very funny guy named Mesir, walking very fast with only havainas! He doesn’t speak a lot of English but makes efforts. He is very happy when we give him our Indonesian-English dictionary.

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We go back to the beginning of the trek all packed in a pick-up. There are four of us inside the cabin, and twelve of us packed in the back part. We have to fight during the one hour route to keep our balance, and avoid tking cramps. The road is turning a lot, with many hills, and also many holes. When we cross villages, all the children laugh at us and say hello.

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In the evening we meet with Munawir and his family again. We are very glad to see that he has already put a Vert l’Horizon sticker on his car! When we wash our clothes tonigh, the water is literally black from the dust! For dinner, we eat rice and an omelette that Munawir’s wife prepares for us.

Here are a few videos of that trek: