During my research for my travel to the island of Lombok, I came across pictures of beautiful hill country side with the view over colorful fields. This is supposed to be the region around Mt. Rinjani in the north-east of Lombok. More precisely Sembalun. Originally, I intended to make a tour around the volcano. However, it seemed quite a challenge to find accommodation and, in addition, the region was still quite affected by the earthquake.
I decided to drive from Kuta directly to Sembalun (92km) and stay there for 2 nights to discover the region.
At 08:00am I started my scooter towards Sembalun. Approximately 20km before Sembalun the landscape changed suddenly. The steppe-like landscape has given way to dense jungle. I drove past monkeys, who sat in astonishment at the roadside. The road led higher and higher up the hill. The higher up, the cooler it got, and I was in dense jungle. To reach Sembalun you must first cross a pass. At the highest point of the pass you have a beautiful view over the valley and Sembalun. The road down into the valley is a little less pretty😬. In some places destroyed by landslides, mud and water. In some places so steep that I was afraid to fall off the scooter 😅 I was glad when I finally reached the valley. The landscape was quite spectacular though. Even though I had not even seen Mt. Rinjani yet. Rinjani was wrapped in thick clouds 🙁
After 3h drive I had reached my homestay in Sembalun. My butt ached and I was cold. Since I was not aware that Sembalun is located at 1200m and there is a different climate, I did not think to bring warmer clothes 😰 Luckily, I had my rain jacket and a long skirt with me. My backpack unloaded in the homestay, I've decided to visit the Tiu Kelep waterfall. The waterfall is located on the north side of Mt. Rinjani. The way should take about 1 hour. Should. I drove off and after about 10min. ride the road was no longer concreted. The road was in such poor condition (destroyed by the earthquake) that I decided to drive back to Sembalun. I did not feel like risking an accident.
Instead, I visited Bukit Selong. This is a hill from which you should have a great view over the valley. The town Sembalun is very small, yet I still could not manage to find the hill. 🤷🏼♀️ Back in my guesthouse, I asked the owner again and then with his help, I finally found the hill 😅 The view was really nice. Unfortunately, without Rinjani.
When I returned to the guesthouse, I decided to spend only one night here. Due to the devastating earthquake of last year, it is still not possible to climb Mt. Rinjani. The activities here are therefore pretty limited. Sembalun is a tiny village. Tourism does not exist here at the moment. I was the only white (bule = western person) on the way and was observed accordingly 🙈 Really funny. It was exciting to watch people. While the south of Lombok is more similar to Bali where women are scarcely seen wearing headscarves, northern Lombok is very traditional. Sembalun is 100% Muslim. I was the only woman without a headscarf 😁 I was really happy to have a long skirt with me to be able to adapt at least a little bit.
The night was very cold. Luckily there were blankets in the room 😰 I was really looking forward to Kuta and its beaches again 😬
The next morning, I got up and could hardly believe my luck. Bright blue sky and straight-ahead enthroned Mt. Rinjani. A great picture. For breakfast the mom served super delicious banana pancakes and a coffee, with the great view of the volcano. Great.
After breakfast, I said goodbye to the nice family and drove back towards Kuta. To see as much as possible of Lombok, I chose another route on the way back and drove back along the east coast.
Pictures are to find here📸
With its hilly landscape and dense jungle forests, Lombok is home to countless waterfalls. Two of the best known are the Benang Kelambu and the Benag Stokel waterfalls. The two waterfalls are located close to each other, in the Geopark at the foot of Mt. Rinjani volcano.
The journey by scooter is relatively easy. From Kuta, straight to the north into islands heart. The ride took about 2 hours. It was not until the end that I needed the help of the residents, because the waterfalls were suddenly no longer signposted. But fortunately, the Indonesians are very helpful and so I was lead by a boy to show me the way 👏🏼 Really nice.
When I arrived at the Geopark, I was first asked for admission. With 120'000 Rupiah ($ 8.-) it was quite a hit to the wallet 😣 At least a guide was included.
I parked my scooter at the entrance and with Yoga's (my guide) motorbike we went into the park. The road was ..... very adventurous. First very steep up and then steeply down again. The road seemed more like a riverbed to me. Again and again I closed my eyes to not have to see which stones and ditches yoga dodges 😅 But Indonesians are incredibly good with motorcycles and so we reached the waterfall without damage 🙈 Now we just had to climb down about 200 steps to reach the Benang Kelambu waterfall. And how that was worth it. The waterfall is 40m high and flows like a curtain (which means Kelambu in Indonesian) over the ivy-like plants. Very impressive and beautiful.
As I travel in the off season, I was lucky enough to be alone in the park.
Gasping heavily, I followed Yoga up the stairs again. With the high humidity, climbing stairs became quite a fitness training 😅
With the motorcycle we went to the next waterfall, the Benang Stokel. This actually consists of 2 separate river strands and is no less impressive with a height of 30m.
To be honest, I was happy when I was back on my scooter. Along (deliberate) small detours I drove back to Kuta. Back in my hostel, after about 110km on the scooter today, I couldn’t feel my butt anymore. But it was well worth the pain.
Having completed my divemaster course, it is time to make travel plans. The list of incredible destinations in Indonesia is endless and that is why I was stuck on choosing a place to go for a long time. Eventually, I chose Lombok because of the many great feedbacks and the close proximity to Bali.
Lombok is the nearest island east of Bali. The island is a bit smaller than Bali. Agriculture is by far the most important source of income for the population of Lombok. However, the main cultivation of rice is less successful than on the neighboring island of Bali. In addition, much corn, onions, coconuts, beans and spices are grown especially in the south. For Lombok's economy, tourism, which focuses on Senggigi on the west coast and Kuta on the south coast, is of much lesser importance.
About 90% of Lombok's inhabitants have been followers of Islam since the 16th century. In the summer of 2018, Lombok was shaken by a series of strong earthquakes that claimed 564 lives.
From Bali there are 2 ways to reach Lombok. Either from Padang Bai in 4-9h ride by boat or from Denpasar by plane in 20min. flight time. I decided to fly 😅 The flight was cheaper for me than the boat transfer. In addition, the airport Lombok is located near Kuta which made the journey even easier.
At 06:00 in the morning I ordered a Go-Jek in Sanur (Bali). A Go-Jek is a taxi which can be ordered via phone app (like Uber). Here in Bali you can also rent scooter taxis, which is super cheap and much faster than cars. And it works wonderfully 😃
My plane (Lion Air) took off right on time at 09: 00hrs. The flight took exactly 20mins. Barely up in the air we went already went down again. My shortest flight yet 😅
And again, I ordered a Go-Jek on Lombok, which was a lot more difficult, as Lombok is not yet touristy at all.
After settling into my awesome hostel in Kuta (Boogie Hostel), I grabbed a scooter to explore the island.
From Kuta I headed west, along the coast. The landscape is beautiful. Lush green hills, past white sandy beaches with turquoise waters that make Bali's beaches look pale. Also striking, there is almost no traffic. Always further into the island, past tiny villages and astonished locals. At some point the weather changed from blue sky to rain. Because the rain was so strong, I decided to seek shelter. I was somewhere out in the country side. At a crossroad, I found a small food stall in front of a house. I parked my scooter and asked the woman if I could wait here. With a laugh on her face she told me to sit down and gave me some goreng bisang (fried bananas) 🤤. The rain was getting stronger and we got more and more into conversation. I with my Indonesian <-> English dictionary and with hands and feet. Suddenly, I was surrounded by the entire family. Everyone wanted to know where I came from, how I like Lombok, where Switzerland is and much more. I showed them photos of the Matterhorn, of the snow, of our cats 😁 Everyone was worried that I got lost driving around with my scooter. Several times I had to explain that I knew exactly where I was and I deliberately drove around the country side 🙈😂
Later I was offered a plate of gado-gado (Indonesian salad of lightly cooked vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, fried tofu and tempeh served with a peanut sauce). I was not hungry, it was only 15:00hrs., but I could nevefr refuse such a delicious meal 🤷🏼♀️
After 1.5 hours of funny conversation and great food, the rain had stopped for a while, I said Selamatd tinggal👋🏼 and headed back to Kuta with my scooter.
Pictures of my first day here 📸