For most western travelers, when the word “holiday” is raised, visions of white sandy Italian beaches and sunny Mediterranean fields will undoubtedly spring to mind.
Furthermore, when the word “hiking” raised to those same people, you could almost bet your money that no attention will be paid to the hiking and trekking trails found in Indonesia. I pondered why this might be for a while, before realizing that to truly find an answer to this question, I would have to embark on my own Indonesian trekking journey. And so, with a little hesitation and not a lot of preplanning, I set out to explore the hidden gems of Lombok, which is home to some of the most insane terrain. For a taster of what I was after, Google “Mount Rinjani” and go to the images. Insane, right?
While hiking in English speaking European countries, travelers of these areas already have an enormous advantage over those that of other areas, and that is that often everyone speaks the same language. A language barrier is something that is hard to explain if you have never experienced one before. Mannerisms and cultural expectations can carry across, however specific meanings and definitions can quite easily get helplessly lost. In this way, I found a major hurdle to be the information gathering part of the hike that you embark on at the beginning. Poorly worded phrases are hard to digest, especially when they are trying to sell you a service, and for this reason the words you find inside pamphlets should be taken with a grain of salt. It is often more beneficial to ask around among the locals to get an answer to the questions you are trying to ask.
The next major difference I experienced was the lack of emergency training or preparedness on the trails themselves. Now, don’t get me wrong. Lombok is home to arguably some of the greatest trails and hiking tracks that I know I will ever experience in my lifetime. The sheerness of the rock faces, the changing and shifting environments – everything comes together like a theatre performance and the hikers are thrust into the position of main characters. With that being said, it is smart to keep in mind that Indonesian travel agencies must adhere to much looser legislation when it comes to health and safety than what is normally observed in European countries. I have my own story to provide an example for this.
When I was walking through the forest in Lombok on a hike I slipped and fell on poisonous ivy. I developed blisters at an alarmingly fast rate. Not one person could tell me what the tree was that I had slipped on or what I was suffering from. Not even the doctors. It felt like the right-hand side of my body was on fire. For four days I was paralyzed by the pain, with the pain coming in waves throughout the day. Sleep was impossible. In the end the pain dissipated but was still present five weeks later.
I guess what I am trying to convey is a warning. Lombok and all of Indonesia have the most beautiful scenic views available. But to experience that, you must pay the price of a small health risk. Most of this risk is mitigated when you engage yourself with a reputable travel agency that will take the necessary actions to keep you as safe as possible. The right travel agency pre-plans and mitigates all negative outcomes to give you the most enjoyable experience possible.