The three Gili Islands (Trawangan, Meno and Air) may enjoy increasing popularity, but these islands are by no means the only attractions in Indonesia’s Lombok region. Lombok as a destination has so much to offer and one it’s prime attraction is the mountain range and volcanic peak called Mount Rinjani.
Rinjani is well-known among the trekking community in Southeast Asia mainly because of its very scenic crater, which is famously filled with a lake and a smaller volcano. Climbing to the crater of Mount Rinjani can take as little as one day (if you go hard core); but most hikers prefer the slower 2 day or 3-day itineraries. Although we are not avid hikers at the moment, we decided to check out the Mount Rinjani area because we were after the incredible mountain vistas we have heard so much about. The Mount Rinjani area did not disappoint. It was one of the best things about our journey to Lombok. And even if you don’t intend on hiking it, Mount Rinjani is worth seeing from a distance.
There are a couple of towns where you can enjoy the Rinjani vista. One of the main ones (if not the most popular) is the town called Senaru. Many trekking tour offices are based in Senaru. It also has the greatest number of accommodation choices in the area. Thus, many tourists tend to stay there. Another reason to visit Senaru is see the two sets of magnificent waterfalls, tucked in a tropical forest environment.
During our trip to Lombok, we first made our way to the Gili Islands. The jumping point from the mainland of Lombok Island to the Gilis, is the Bangsal Pier. Bangsal is nothing special, but it has become an important transport hub for tourists going to and from the Gili Islands.
It is possible to book a tour that takes you from Gili Trawangan all the way to the Senaru waterfalls. The tour lasts the entire day, and includes all transport costs. The tour is a good option if you don’t have enough time to climb Rinjani, but you still wanted to capture some views. But for us, it made more sense go to Senaru on our own as we were planning on staying at this spectacular lodge near Rinjani. The transport costs ended up being much cheaper by staying in Senaru opposed to taking the tour from Gili T.
If you decide to go from Bangsal Pier to Senaru, here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it:
Take a public ferry or fast boat from Gili Trawangan to Bangsal Pier. The ticket office is eastern shoreline of the Gili T. There is a sign for this building when walking on the coastal road. This article can give you more information on how to purchase the ticket.
2. Get off at Bangsal Pier. Journey on a public ferry takes about 40 minutes. Speedboats to Bangsal are of course faster, expect about 25 minutes.
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3. Choose your transport at Bangsal Pier. There are only two transport choices that were available during our trip if you would like to go from Bangsal to Senaru: taxis or private cars.
Going from Bangsal to Senaru by Taxi
You can find taxis parked at the left side of the pier’s main entrance. From shore where your boat stops, all you need is to walk out to the main gate passed the ticket office building. You can’t miss it. There are many taxis and there is signboard in the parking area where it states the rates of taxis, depending on your destination. They will have prices posted for the trip from Bangsal to Senaru.
Going from Bangsal to Senaru by Private Car
The other option to get to Senaru is by hiring a private driver with his/her own vehicle. The advantage of getting a private car is that you can haggle down the price, which is usually cheaper than the taxi rate.
This is what we paid our driver: 200,00 Rupiah
The disadvantage of getting a private car is that you have to manage the pesky touts that are offering you the private cars.
Finding a private car to hire is not a problem. As soon as you get off the boat, there will be a number of touts who will ask you if you need a ride. This is where your negotiation skills and patience will be put to the test. The touts’ behavior can be overwhelming. If this is something you don’t enjoy handling, then you’re better off just going to the taxi parking lot and getting a cab.
In our case, we are used to negotiating with touts. And we finally talked to a guy who could speak perfect English who gave us a good price to Senaru in his new vehicle.
4. Once you have found a driver, tell him which hotel/guesthouse you are staying at.
Book your room in Senaru in advance!
Senaru is not really the kind of town where you can just show up and book accommodation right on the spot. This is mainly because room choices are limited especially during peak trekking season. So if you choose to be spontaneous, you might end up in a room you don’t like.
In addition, if you already have a place to stay, your driver would know where to drop you off. And trust us, you wouldn’t want to be just drop off in the middle of nowhere in Senaru, the place can give off a ghost town vibe with steep hills to climb.
5. Pay your driver once you reach your location.
Where We Stayed in Senaru
Senaru’s mountain vista is more than we could have hoped for. And we were treated to the best vistas mainly because of where we stayed. My travel partner, Josh, found this boutique resort on www.agoda.com. I just want to add that Josh is a genius at finding quality hotels that suit our needs and budget. And so he found this real gem of a resort called Rinjani Lodge.
I can wholeheartedly say that Rinjani Lodge is one of the main reasons why my visit to Senaru was one of my most unforgettable travel memories. For us, the chance of staying at a hotel for two nights is very slim because we wanted to see as many places as we could. But I loved this resort so much that I promised myself that I would come back again someday.
Like the town of Senaru, Rinjani Lodge is perched on high ground overlooking a magnificent mountainous panorama. This makes this tiny resort, which only has 6 chalets, one of the most perfectly located hotels I’ve ever seen. Each of the chalets is exquisitely designed, adopting traditional Indonesian architecture and incorporating local wood like bamboo. The resort is equipped with a nice open-air restaurant and two infinity pools, with water seemingly overflowing into a backdrop filled with mountains, forests and rice paddies.
The views, the atmosphere, the chalet architecture, all came together to make our stay here truly relaxing. Another bonus is the fact that the resort is less than a 5 minute walk to the entrance of Senaru Waterfalls!
Yes, Rinjani Lodge is the most expensive accommodation choice in Senaru, but its nightly price tag is reasonable, given all the things it offers. I am not affiliated directly with this resort although I had a brief chat with the owner, whose name I forgot to ask. But I liked the resort so much that I am going to write a full review of the place in another article, so stay tuned.