The 41,000 hectare Mount Rinjani National Park encircles the entire footprint of Mount Rinjani volcano. Combined with another 66,000 hectares of protected forest outside the park, it‘s a significant chunk of the island’s central north. The volcano is the star attraction of course; a hulking presence that rises impressively over the small island. At 3,726m, it is the second highest peak in Indonesia and one of the most active.
No one quite knows when Rinjani first emerged on the “Ring of Fire” but the first recorded eruption occurred in 1847. The next bout of activity between 1994-1995 pushed up a new cone, appropriately dubbed Gunung Baru (New Mountain), poking up the eastern side of the huge 50 km² caldera which cradles the crater lake Segara Anak (Child of the Sea). Rinjani has continued to rumble on and off since then. April 2009 saw plumes of ash emitted up to 8,000m into the air. There were more smoke and lava flows into the caldera lake in the early part of 2010 and an eruption in 2015 which saw nearby villagers evacuated and disrupted airline services for several weeks. The most recent eruption was in September 2016, suspending all activity on the mountain until as recently as 1 April 2017. As you would expect, the Indonesia Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI) are constantly monitoring the volcano and adjusting the alert level as required.
In the meantime, the 34,000 people who live in Rinjani’s shadow keep a nervous eye on the mountain as they go about their daily lives. Lombok’s Sasaks and minority Hindu’s have long feared and venerated the mountain. For centuries both groups made pilgrimages to the mountain for much the same reason; to seek favour and goodwill from the mountain gods. In the Hindu world, those gods are Batara Gunung, the god of the mountain and Dewi Anjani, the goddess of the crater lake. For the Sasaks, Gunung Rinjani and the crater lake Segara Anak are the sacred centre of the island, but these days Sasak pilgrims are rare. The old tradition of climbing the mountain to be closer to god and to bath in the spiritually cleansing hot springs sit uncomfortably alongside the Islamic beliefs to which most have now converted.
Apart from the opportunity to climb Rinjani, the national park offers a host of nature-based and adventure activities from waterfalls excursions, wildlife spotting, easy village and rice paddies walks, jungle trekking and rock climbing. Please refer to Senaru Waterfalls, Aik Berik Waterfalls and Mt Rinjani Volcano Trek pages for further details
The main access to the park is via Senaru village, located just inside the park boundaries on the eastern slopes of the mountain, about 2 hours drive from Senggigi. Senaru and nearby Sembalun village offer a range of accommodation which may be a convenient option if you’re planning to spend two or more days exploring the park.