Given how most of the Lesser Sunda Islands (line of islands between Java and Southern Papua) are tailored for the beach heads, it’s quiet comforting to know a cool place that everybody’s going crazy about lately.
As much as the popularity of Lombok relies much on their tiny paradises in the shape of the Gilis, this island actually hosts a site for a particular niche market – which expands larger every year. The said site is Mount Rinjani, considered as one of the most demanding but remarkably beautiful mountain to climb in the whole country. Trailblazers from all over the world have come and conquered the 3,726 metres above sea level summit, whether it’s for their own mountaineering bucket list, a trail run challenge or for that divine view of Segara Anak Lake from the top. So naturally, as any other places going on the rise, visitors started to explore other sides of the mountain – that’s when they found Sembalun.
Just a scoot over the quarter of Rinjani’s height, Sembalun is one of the three common tracks taken by hikers to reach the summit. It’s best known for being the most dramatically alluring track (although not the shortest path because
of its low elevation) having passed lush forests, mesmerising savanna and almost surrealist curvy hills. But somehow , the charm of Sembalun starts even before the hike begins at Sembalun Lawang. Many hikers set camp at Pergasingan Hill, an unofficial check point about halfway up. It has quite the flat contour, large field for sharing a campsite and with a marvelous view 360 degrees and 24 hours a day. You get sunrise on the east, the sexy mountain on the west, an abundance of green on your north and those hills that popped out of fairy tales on your south – not to mention the stars when it gets dark. Also as promised, the Sembalun path is a wave of Instagram posts waiting to happen. Along the way you will be hiking through one of Rinjani’s main attraction, the endless Dandaun Savanna. It’s like golden carpet laid on the feet of the sky spreading as far as 6 kilometres. Absolutely stunning.
Yet, that’s not all. Still within the Sembalun vicinity but off the climb track, you also need to visit the Mangku Sakti Waterfall, a clear blue water dropping 10 feet high from a crack in a rocky wall – swimming is not really recommended though, since the water could freeze your blood in a few minutes. Another must visit site would take you quite the hike against the current to the south of Sembalun Lawang (so make sure to come after you’ve climbed back down). Pusuk Sembalun is one of the tallest point in the area apart from the craters and the Rinjani summit, so you can imagine the snapshot it could cover in one frame. Lastly, for those wondering more about the anthropological aspects of Sembalun, don’t miss the Beleq Village. Seven conserved traditional wooden houses that are said to be where the ancestors of Sembalunians have lived. These houses are not the original constructions though, they’re merely rebuilt in detailed precision after the real ones were destroyed by the Rinjani volcanic eruption centuries ago.
Well, I think I have drained my vocabulary in explaining how fascinating Sembalun is – especially considering that this is just one-third of the whole Mount Rinjani experience. But let’s keep that for another time. I just want to enjoy my pack of instant coffee, while enjoying the sunset over this goddess of a mountain.
Sembalun, East Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara ntbprov.go.id