Its summit is considered by both Balinese and Sasaks as sacred, and the thermal hot pools that flow from its volcanic center are said to have immense healing properties. The mountain is surrounded by a National Park, with varying ecologies including savannah, rain forests and high altitude cloud forests. Because of these attractions, the Rinjani National Park attracts approximately 1000 foreign visitors plus thousands more Indonesians each year. Many of these visitors solicit the help of local porters to carry their backpacks and other luggage through the park.
These porters are all male, ranging in age from 15 to 55 years. As the treks into the park are seasonal, most work as porters on a part time basis, supplementing the money they earn being farmers and labourers. They are usually the main, if not, sole bread winner in the family with a great deal of responsibility placed on their shoulders.
Typical treks into the park include 2 day hikes up to the rim of the volcano, 3 day hikes down to the lake district of the volcano and 4 day hikes that take clients to Rinjani’s summit. In all instances, altitudes in excess of 2700m are reached for periods of at least 24 hours, with higher altitudes reached for summit climbs for durations of 3 days. Most camp positions are on exposed ridges. Even at the equator, altitudes above 2000m can produce temperature
nearing 0C. These temperatures are chilled by occasional high winds and rain.
Unfortunately, most porters are unable to afford warm clothing to protect themselves from
the cold, wind and rain. While some are provided with warm clothing by their employers, many are not. The result of which is a high number return to their homes, their land and families too ill to contribute to what is already a difficult life.
In consultation with the park Board , we are establishing Indonesia’s first Clothing B
ank. The Bank will provide all porters with warm, wind proof and rain resistant jackets. The Bank will loan these jackets out to Porters who will be working in the Park and these jackets will be returned to the Bank at the completion of their trek. Returned jackets will be e
xamined and cleaned before they are put back into service for the next Porter. The Porters will not pay for the jackets. They will simply provide their name and contact details and how long they will need the jackets for. The system is based on honesty and the belief in human nature.
There will be two Banks established, one in Senaru on the northern slopes of the Park and
the second will be based in Lawang on the eastern side of the Park. The establishment of these outlets assures that Porters do not need to return the jacket to where they borrowed it. Lawang and Senaru represent the two major entry and exit points to the Park and are thus natural places to situate the Banks.
The administration of the Bank will be undertaken by the Gunung Rinjani National Park Board, which is Headquartered in Mataram, Lombok’s capitol and with regional offices in Senaru and Lawang. The Board has worked in recent years with NZ Aid, to incorporate local communities into the tourism aspects of the Park. Their work has helped the Rinjani National Park win the recent National Geographic/ World Legacy Best Stewardship Award.
WHAT YOU MIGHT SEE IN RINJANI NATIONAL PARK
Over 20 villages surround Mt. Rinjani and there are many routes up the mountain, but the main access is from Senaru in the north and Sembalun Lawang to the east.
Gunung Rinjani national park lies within the major transition zone (Wallace) where the flora and fauna of south East Asia makes a dramatic transition into that which is typical of Australia. The park has a rich variety of plants and animals, although they can be hard to spot due to the terrain and rainforest cover.
Sometimes seen early in the morning is the morning is the rare black Ebony leaf monkey, know locally as lutung. The long tailed gray macaque of kera is common in Lombok and order males are seen on the crater rim. Rusa deer are forest dwellers and are occasionally seen a long the Rinjani trek train.
The smaller barking deer or kijang has an alarm call with a distinct dog – like bark. Look for the disturbed ground where the wild pig or babi hutan has been foraging. Also found in the forest is the leopard cat or bodok alas, palm civet or ujat and porcupine or landak.
A variety of colorful birds live in the forest of the park. Perhaps the best – know icon of the park is the crested cockatoo that is not found any further west of Lombok. Many of the forest-dwelling animals, insects, birds, civets, and monkeys owe their survival to the wild fig tree or beringin as a provider of food and shelter.
The pine-like casuarinas species, Cemara, are a feature of the grassy higher slopes. Orchids or anggrek are also a feature of the grassland areas, as is edelweiss or bunga abadi growing above the tree line, it is a beautiful icon of the park and one of the park and one of our best-know sub-alvine plants.
The following stories are a selection taken from a booklet for village guides containing a collection of traditional stories that have been related for generations by the people of Dusun Senaru.
The first place to rest, located where the paths from Senaru and Semokan meet. Andongan Tambing is one of the forrest entry gates and the First Camp on the Rinjani Trek. At this point the trekkers are warned to be careful of the steep slopes.
Half Way Point (Pos II Campsite)
At the second resting place (Camp II) is a stone which is called Batu Penyesalan. This marks the place where the trekkers feels a conflict about whether to continue or to turn back because we still have as far to go to our destination as we have already walked.
Usually it takes about two hours to walk here from Bunut Ngengkang.
One of the three famous caves (Goa Susu, Goa Payung, dan Goa Manik), Susu Cave is a good place for self reflection and is often used as a place to meditate. The people with unclean and envious mind will have difficulty entering Susu cave which has a narrow entrance, but people with noble and pure mind will easily enter the cave.
Inside the cave water drips from the tip of a stone which looks like a nipple, so people say the water in Goa Susu tastes different. Inside Goa Susu is hot and there is a lot of smoke which looks like cooking steam so people call this Mengukus (hot house) and sometimes people call it Rontgen (X-Ray).
Healing Hot Springs
Aiq Kalak means hot water and it is used to cure various deseases. One of the hot springs is named Pangkereman Jembangan which is meant a place for dipping. The water which spurts out of the spring is very hot. Weapons such as keris, swords, big knives, and lances are dipped in the spring to test their magic power. If the weapon become sticky it means that the weapon is bad and has no magical power. However if the weapon remain unchanged it means that the weapon has supernatural power and the power and the strength will be increased.
People also use the hot spring to make medicine from coconut cream. After dipping a bottle of coconut cream in the hot spring if the liquid becomes clear oily it can be used as medicinal oil. Then the medicinal oil is used for good things and is called Siu Satus Tunggal or in Bayan language Siu Satunggal which means that it can be used to cure a thousand kinds of desease.
Segara Anak Crater Lake
Segara Anak Lake is so wide it appears like the sea with its blue water. The name Segara Anak means child of the sea.
Segara Anak Lake holds various mysteries and invisible power. People feel content to stay a long time in this place because of the large community of mysterious spirits which live arround the lake. The local people believe that if the lake looks wide when seen at a distance it is a sign they will live to an old age; or if the lake seems narrow it is a sign of a short age. So in order not to be pessimistic, people quickly purify themselves by lifting up their spirits and calm soul and look at the lake contentedly.
In the area of the lake it is forbidden to have intercourse, to complain or say dirty things. We must be patient when facing problems.
This plant grows along the route to Mt. Rinjani. It has thorns like the rose and the fruit is red like strawberry. It has a sweet and slightly sour taste and is good to eat when trekkers are hungry and thirsty.
Eternal Flower or Edelweis
The plant or the flowers should not be taken because it grows in the park and in the mysterious world of the spirit kingdom. In the past, someone who wanted this flower must be brave enough to fight and gamble his soul. That is why the flower is called Sandar Nyawa. The flower has never wilted and is as old as the mysterious spirits.
The Peak of Rinjani
The people of Lombok believe that the peak of Mt. Rinjani is where Dewi Anjani, the queen spirit and ruler of Mt. Rinjani lives. To the south-east from the peak in a sea of dust called Segara Muncar is the invisible palace of the queen Dewi Anjani and her followers. They are good spirits. According to a story about the Queen Spirit Dewi Anjani she was the daugther of a King who would not allow her to marry her boyfriend. At a spring called Mandala she dissappeared and changed from the real world to the spirit world.
Mount Baru Jari (Gunung Baru)
Gunung Baru is the name of the new volcano which emerged in the center of Segara Anak Lake. People believe that Gunung Baru is the navel of Mt. Rinjani.
That is why if Gunung Baru erupted it will not harm the people of Lombok unless the eruption is from the peak of Mt. Rinjani. Some people said that the 1994 Gunung Baru eruption was caused by siprits who were building something because the stones that erupted were arranged in an orderly and attractive way at the foot of Gunung Baru.