Since we didn’t do the summit for the sunrise, that cut 5 hours of hiking out of our day (it’s 3 hours up and 2 hours down the summit). So we had an easy 3 hour day of downhill hiking to the lake where we would camp. We ran into Mel and Brad again down at the lake and they had gone up to the summit for sunrise. They said the wind was pretty tough but magically when you got up to the top of the summit it died down. We were bummed we didn’t force ourselves to go, but in that moment of time at 2:30am, there was probably nothing that could have gotten me out of that tent!
On the way to our lake campsite, we stopped at the natural hot springs which is at the base of a waterfall. It’s a small pool, so only a few people can go at a time. Luckily, we beat the rest of the tourists there, so we only shared it with a few locals.
Our guide chose a great spot for our lakeside campground. We stayed on the far edge of the lake, away from the main campground. This gave us a great view of the “baby” volcano inside the crater rim and we got the camp right at the lake’s edge.
While we were relaxing there, a huge group of local villagers descended on us and started doing a spiritual ceremony! Apparently every full moon, whole Muslim Sasak villages will come up to the sacred Gunung Rinjani to bathe in the crater lake and hot springs for health reasons and make animal sacrifices. There were over 100 villagers. First they changed into all white and then dunked themselves in the lake. After they changed out of their wet clothes, they all got their prayer mats out and faced West to pray. It was pretty amazing to watch. Then they built a huge fire to cook an enormous vat of rice to feed everyone. And then, just as soon as the rice was distributed, they were off! Leaving us to our solitary campground.
Our guide bartered some packs of cigarettes with a local fisherman so we could have some fresh caught lake fish for dinner. Villagers will sometimes come up for 4 or 5 days to stay by the lake and fish. Our guide Adi got a ton of fish, so we fried up some and they saved others for smoking.
After dinner, we watched the full moon rise from behind the mountain over the lake. Pretty magical. Luckily, there was no wind that night by the lakeside so we were able to get a good night’s sleep.