At 3.726m, Mt. Rinjani is the second highest volcano peak in Indonesia and is a part of the celebrated “Ring of Fire”. Forested slopes rising directly from the sea create their own weather pattern and act as the main water-catchment for the island of Lombok. Gunung Rinjani National Park lies within a major bio-geographical transition zone (Wallaceae), where the flora and fauna of South East Asia meets that of Australasia. The National Park, one of over 50 throughout Indonesia, was established in 1997.
For the people of Lombok, Sasak and Balinese alike, Mt. Rinjani is revered as a sacred place and abode of deities. The crater lake is a pilgrimage destination for tens of thousands each year. Pilgrims place offerings in the water and bathe away ailments in the hot springs. For visitors, the three-day Rinjani Trek route from Senaru to the crater rim, down to the crater lake then on to Sembalun, is considered one of the best treks in South East Asia. More adventurous trekkers aim for the summit, best reached from Sembalun returning after four days to Senaru.
To assist with conservation and ensure that communities on the boundary of the National Park benefit from tourism revenues, the Rinjani Trek is managed by a partnership of National Park officials, the public and private sectors of the Lombok tourism industry and community representatives. Community-run cooperatives coordinate the trek at the Rinjani Trek Centre (RTC) in Senaru and the Rinjani Information Centre in Smebalun Lawang. Each has roster systems for guides and porters, village tour activities and handicraft sales.
The Rinjani Trek Ecotourism Program made considerable progress in nine years. Key to its success has been the ability to gather ‘all the local players under one roof’ and to develop a three-pronged approach for ‘Park Management’, ‘Community Development’ and ‘Tourism’ (GRNPP 2003). It was recognised as an iconic world destination in the National Geographic Awards in 2004. With its emphasis on sound conservation principles, based on traditional knowledge, the Rinjani Ecotourism Program had been nominated as one of three finalists for another Destination Award in the British Airways, Tourism for Tomorrow Awards in 2005 and 2008 from WTTC. This was to be announced at the 8th Global Travel and Tourism Summit hosted by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in Dubai, April 2008.
This was well deserved recognition of the determined work of all stakeholders to not only care for the destination to enhance its attraction for tourists, but also to develop micro-projects in adjoining villages in the buffer zone and place tourism as just one economic activity that must be integrated with others in the community. Rinjani Trek had been recognised by the Indonesian Government, through Tourism Ministery as the best destination involving the community to manage and received award three times in 2010, 2011 and 2012.