Senaru is a small mountainous town located in north Lombok in the Taman Nasional Gunung Rinjani (Mount Rinjani National Park), roughly a 3-4 hour car ride from Lombok’s airport. It is mostly known for housing Lombok’s largest trekking center (Rinjani Trekking Center). Many of the popular hiking and trekking trips to Mount Rinjani, Indonesia’s second highest volcano, start or finish in Senaru. I thought the area around Senaru was beautiful. From some places you get spectacular views of the green and very lovely valleys between the slopes of Mount Rinjani. There are many stunning paddies and jungle there. Not to mention that on clear days the majestic peak of Mount Rinjani is also often visible in the background. So, it is definitely still worth visiting Senaru for the magnificent scenery even if you are not planning to climb Mount Rinjani. Not to mention that Senaru is also home to two pretty amazing waterfalls, Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep, located nearby the Rinjani Trekking Center. I wrote about the waterfalls in a separate article, which you can find on their respective pages.
Important: before visiting Senaru you should know that there are no ATM’s in this area, so bring enough cash to sustain yourself for however long you will be staying in the area. The nearest ATM’s are quite a ride away.
Pretty much all people living in Senaru are part of the Sasak population. This is quite an interesting community. Not much is known about their history, but it is thought they are related to the people ruled over by the Majapahit Empire. Originally Hindu-Buddhist, they converted to Islam in the 16th and 17th century. However, the Sasak people did not completely got rid of their Hindu-Buddhist past and their even older animistic beliefs. In the town of Bayan, one of the oldest settlements on Lombok, the Waktu Telu religion was born. This belief is mostly based on Islam, but it also has Hindu-Buddhist aspects and aspects from their ancestors’ animistic faith. Talking with our guide, I learned many things about the Bayan community, from their marital traditions to growing up and playing various instruments.
Instead of hiking to the summit of the nearby volcano, we took the Panorama Walk through the slopes and hills that surround Mount Rinjani. This was a gorgeous and at times quite a tough trip, but absolutely worth it. Our accommodation, the Rinjani Mountain Garden hotel, had arranged the trip for us. We started the walk at 9 o’clock in the morning and finished around 3 o’clock in the afternoon. We were lucky and our trip turned out to take place on a beautiful sunny, cloudless day. They also provided a local guide, who was knowledgeable, friendly, and also quite funny. Not to mention that our guide was very useful in communicating with people who did not speak any Indonesian, but only the local Bayan dialect.
For the first 15 minutes we walked down a road and from there on out it was mostly a hike through rice paddies, down arid canyons, past old jungles and shadowy forests with mighty trees, up and down hills, and across rivers. Along the way our guide explained the various crops and plants to us, including cotton plants and their uses. The paddies looked gorgeous during our trip, bright green and very lush. Be careful walking on the mud as it can be slippery at times. We also met some interesting wildlife along the way, including sightings of two different kinds of monkeys playing in the branches of some large trees; the black ebony leaf monkey, known locally as the lutung, and the long-tailed grey macaque, known there as the kera. Unfortunately, our loud presence startled them before we could see them from up close. One of the rarer sightings among Lombok wildlife includes a deer species called rusa, but we did not get to see them. They are only found far and few between.
We met many Sasak people along the way. They still follow a very traditional way of life in this part of Lombok. Since we basically walked through the hottest parts of the day, at this time of day they were mostly resting from working the fields in tiny cottages in the paddies. The Sasak people were very friendly and welcoming. We exchanged smiles and some small talk before moving on. There are also a few cute little Sasak kampung (or villages) that we walked through.
Our walk ended by following a path a long winding irrigational canal that led towards the entrance of the Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep waterfalls. The water in this canal was astonishingly clear, and very fresh and clean. It looked immensely inviting to swim in the canal actually, but we didn’t. The canal runs downhill toward the many rice paddies, which it irrigates and provides water to.
Prepare yourself plenty before the trip. Wear sturdy walking shoes and comfortable clothing including a hat and sunglasses. Bring a lot of water, as you will not find any shops or warungs along the way. At some places you can re-fill your water bottles with mountain water if you want, I’m just not sure how safe it is to drink. Don’t forget to also wear plenty of sunscreen, as the sun is relentless and strong. Re-apply often, which is something I should do as well after getting the back of my neck sunburned.
All in all, our time in Senaru was amazing. We loved the Panorama Walk as it was stunning and exciting. The landscapes filled with rice paddies and jungles are gorgeous and it’s just tremendous fun walking through these hilly surroundings. I would highly recommend doing an activity such as this if you are not climbing Mount Rinjani itself. It’s a worthy alternative.