The True Cost of Guide and Porters - The Case of Mount Rinjani Climb, Lombok, Indonesia
Updated: May 21
Travel Story by Gita N
We recently did a 2-day trek up to Mount Rinjani in Lombok, Indonesia up to the Crater Rim (see footnotes). Mount Rinjani is the second-highest volcano in Indonesia at the height of 3,726 meters above sea level while the Crater sits on 2,639 meters above sea level. The trek to the lake was challenging through the lush rainforest. However, the view at the rim is beyond words. We were sitting on Lombok’s highest peak. We did the Mount Rinjani Climb with one of SloMo Travel’s partner. He helped us to arrange everything including guide and porters so everything was so hustle-free and all we need to carry were small bags with our personal belongings.
At the end of our first day, our dinner was a plate of freshly cooked Nasi Goreng (fried rice) made by our guide and porters. After the tiring climb, and of course, their great cooking skills, our Nasi Goreng was definitely one of the best we have ever eaten. While watching the sunset along with other fellow tourists, our attention began to shift to the guides and porters who have worked tirelessly throughout our climb.
Most guides and porters live in the nearby village, called Desa Senaru. Besides farming, tourism has become one of the main income streams in the area. These people work hard for minimum pay. Porters, for example, need to carry 2 baskets filled with 2 days supplies of food, water and camping equipment for at least 3 people over their shoulders. They trek up and down Mount Rinjani, at least 3-5 days a week during high season only in their slippers. Some of them have been trekking porters since a young age and have never been to school after elementary school. Because for them, the only thing they know that provides food on their table is to become a porter, trekking guide or farmer.
The Lombok earthquake in 2018 has also affected the locals who live near Mount Rinjani. When we came, some of them were in the middle of rebuilding the homestays that were destroyed during the earthquake. We spoke with one of the local who works as a local tour operator for Mount Rinjani climb. He said that the number of visitors to Mount Rinjani has decreased after the earthquake. That is why the local tour operators work together and divide the workload evenly so that all tour operators, guides and porters all have equal opportunities to work and earn.
Notes: The work to fix the route to the summit from Senaru Village might be started in 2020. However, for the time being, the Mount Rinjani route can only go up to the Crater Rim (as per December 2019)