Rinjani Fun Trekking Review: Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia

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Interested in island hopping and beach camping in the Gilis? Want to see a wilder side of Lombok? Then read our Rinjani Fun Trekking review here.

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping gili ocean high tide

Rinjani Fun Trekking Review: Beach Camping in Indonesia

We’ve had some amazing experiences in Indonesia. Jungle trekking in Bukit Lawang. Hiking a volcano in Berastagi. Some wood carving classes and silversmithing lessons and much more amazing experiences in Ubud. After three weeks in Lombok, I can say that exploring the gilis is now one of our favorite family travel memories in Indonesia. This Rinjani Fun Trekking review is an account of our experience.

What’s a gili? It just means “little island” in the local dialect.

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review PIN 3

We had a blast in Lombok’s most famous and developed Gili Trawangan, but after that, we wanted to see the more natural side of Lombok. For this trip, we took an overnight camping trip to Gili KOndo on the Lombok’s eastern side. Hiking outfitter Rinjani Fun Trekking is best known for their overnight Rinjani Mountain Trekking, but this gili island camping tour was exactly what we were looking for.

We loved our time in Gili Trawangan and Gili Air, but visiting Gili Kondo on the wilder east coast was great for a completely different set of reasons. Where the islands West of Lombok have restaurants, luxury villas, scuba lessons and cooking classes, the eastern Gilis we visited were mostly uninhabited.

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping mangrove island gili

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping snorkeling

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo Gili Kondo island hopping island camping moonlight and campfire

Gili Camping Quiz: Rinjani Fun Trekking Review

Would camping in the eastern gilis appeal to you? Before reading this Rinjani Fun Trekking review, answer these questions:

  • Can you go a day without a shower?
  • Would you last 24 hours without a proper toilet?
  • Can you stay away from the internet overnight?
  • Does the idea of a tent on an isolated beach sound appealing?

If you answered yes to the above, then keep reading. This Gili Kondo camping tour is not a luxury retreat, nor is it “glamping.” No champagne, truffles, or vintage leather here. Instead, this trip is about snorkeling, swimming, relaxing and being away from the crowd. It’s about having a beautiful beach to yourself.

There is no shower nor bathroom. We brought extra clothes but never wore them. We never took off our swimsuits! Dinner comes on reusable plastic plates, which our guides cleaned and brought back to the mainland.

But to be honest, we still considered this beach camping trip fairly luxurious.

Why? Because we didn’t have to do anything but enjoy ourselves!  All of our usual camping routines were taken care of. The cooking, the cleaning, the setting up camp and the packing up. All meals are prepared for you. Tents are pitched and campfires are managed. Camping pillows and sleeping mattresses are provided and put in place. Sleeping bags, too, but I didn’t even open mine.

Rinjani Fun Trekking: Mount Rinjani Overnight Trekking

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping shells coral

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping soto ayam

The guy behind Rinjani Fun Trekking is Ade Irfan, a young guy for northern Lombok. At 15, he started working as a porter for tourists who wanted to hike to the top of Mount Rinjani, Lombok’s dormant (for now) volcano. Now he runs his own guide business taking people up the mountain. This is a serious trek, and you camp overnight on the mountain. You sleep in the clouds and see a crater lake at dawn. It looks magical.

It also looks cold.

By all accounts that I’ve read and heard from fellow travelers, this is an immensely rewarding trek. It is also strenuous, and the mornings are close to 0º Celcius (32ºF).

You don’t usually think of Indonesia being cold, but Mount Rinjani is high altitude. As we learned in Sumatra, going from hot to cold temperatures can be quite a shock! Rinjani Fun Trekking carries tents and sleeping bags for you, but we didn’t want to lug around boots and cold-weather clothes for one night on the mountain.

Gili Kondo Overnight Beach Camping: Rinjani Fun Trekking Review

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping boat on the water

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping cooking dinner making fire camping

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping kids on the beach

Instead of long hikes at high altitudes, we chose Ade’s newer tour: Camping on Gili Kondo with some nearby island hopping thrown in. This is also an overnight trip, but this tour stays at sea level. It’s also easy: the highest you climb is five or six steps to the roof of a boat for a selfie.

Where the Mount Rinjani Trek has a clear objective, this Gili Kondo island hopping tour is more free form and relaxing.

The tour includes transport from your hotel to the islands (car & boat). It also includes a few meals and overnight accommodation in tents. A staff of four go with you to the islands and take care of all food and shelter needs.

The Camping Trip Begins: Rinjani Fun Trekking Review

The pickup was at 8 am. Arie, our driver, was waiting at our guesthouse before 7:30. We had asked Ade if we could drop off some of our luggage at the villa we’d be staying the night after we returned and he agreed. We packed one overnight bag each and left our suitcases at Villa Nipah, our next accommodation.

Pack as little as possible for the Gili tour. Are you carrying a lot of stuff? Then try to arrange to leave most of it at your next or previous accommodation until you return. This gili island hopping tour uses a relatively small boat. You’re also camping on a fairly isolated island. Do you really want to lug your suitcase and laptop there if you don’t have to?

Meeting the crew

After dropping off our bags in the Senggigi area, we drove two hours north to Ade’s house/office in northern Lombok. The car was new, the seat belts worked, and Arie drove slowly and cautiously, which we appreciated.

At Ade’s house, we met Adit (our guide), Amet (porter & cook), and Awan (driver, fish scaler, and cards champion….more on that later). Along with Arie, these four took care of everything for us.

They also kept us entertained, but don’t expect entertainers of this island hopping tour. They didn’t make much small talk, juggle or sing and dance. And for most of our two days together, they were busy. They were cooking, pitching tents, catching fish, building fires and other tasks. We did enjoy their company often, but we had most of the trip to ourselves to wander the beach or explore the island.

After meeting the crew and having a cup of tea with Ade, we piled back into the car and said farewell. Then we drove another hour east to a small harbor to meet our boat. While we waited, the kids wanted to try a local vendor’s soto ayam, which is essentially Indonesian-style chicken soup. They ate a bowl. Then another. And then third as our boat pulled in.

Our ride’s here!

Boat to the Island: Rinjani Fun Trekking Review

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping boat

Check out this boat. Now imagine your kid’s face when they see that slide attached to the front. “I am so gonna use that slide,” my girl said as she climbed aboard.

Minutes later, we were skimming over turquoise waters towards new lands. New for us, anyway.

As I mentioned earlier, the word “gili” simply means “small island,” and Lombok has hundreds of these. On this particular day, we explored three of them.

The first was Gili Petagan, a lush green place covered in Mangrove trees. Then we rode towards Gili Bidara. Here hundreds of tropical fish swarmed near the surface as we approached. We snorkeled here for 30-45 min before heading to our main destination: Gili Kondo.

Setting up camp

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo Gili Kondo island hopping island camping tents

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping lunch

This is where we would camp for the night. The team put our stuff under a small wooden gazebo and then started pitching the tents while Keiko, the kids and I went for a walk along the beach. Here white sand mixed with crushed coral. It isn’t pristine powder but easily traversed barefoot. Shells and chunks of coral dot the coast, and the kids raced to find the coolest pieces.

When we returned, we saw tents pitched and tarps laid out for us to sit on. When our family camps, we carry our own gear and pitch our own tents as anyone would do. Both Keiko and I appreciated this luxury of having both the tents and the campsite set up for us. This ultimately allowed us more time with kids.

Amet was busy cooking up some lunch: chicken and vegetables with rice, tofu, and tempeh. All topped with a fried egg. There had been a live chicken on a boat with us from the harbor. While we were gone, they had discreetly prepared it for our meals (they can accommodate vegetarians, as well).

With lunch out of the way, the team started thinking about dinner.

Did I mention they brought a speargun?

The Creatures of Gili Kondo

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping spear fishing

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping fishing

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping spear fishing 3

Adit’s speargun looked like a hand-made contraption, using a bit stretched tire tube as the propulsion system. My son begged them to let him use it. After getting our approval, Arie and the boy headed into the shallows near our tents to hunt. The results were delicious.

Fish weren’t the only sea life we saw that day. There were dozens of small crabs skittering around the water’s edge. Then our kids became obsessed with capturing some bizarre little sea creature. Its turtle-like head poked just above the sand, only to disappear once the kids started digging it out. They must have spent an hour trying to catch one.

Night games

As night fell, Adit and Arie built a fire from driftwood and dried coconut shells. It was a full moon that night, but at sunset, it remained behind cloud cover. During this dark hour, the kids and Amit created a new game. They called it “friz-ball.” Using a stick of bamboo and our floppy travel Frisbee, they played a version of baseball that has never seen before or will be again.

In the dark! How they could see the incoming Frisbee continues to amaze me, but I’ll always remember the laughter — from both the kids and Adit.

Moonlight on Gili Kondo

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo Gili Kondo island hopping island camping moonlight kids play

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping family dinner on the beach

Just as their game finished, the clouds broke and the full moon lit up the night. We could actually see our own shadows on the beach as they laid out a tarp for our dinner. Adit and crew had been feeding us since our late lunch, as well as giving the kids cookies whenever they asked. Combine this with the bowls of soto ayam consumed before we left the harbor and we were stuffed even before dinner arrived.

A shame, too. The curry they served was delicious and at a low enough spice level that our chili-averse kids could enjoy it. This is rare in Indonesia. The boy and I finished ours and then ate as much as we could of the girls’ leftovers until Adit brought us a freshly cut pineapple.

Looking up at the stars, I told the kids it was time to brush their teeth and get into bed. Then I looked at my watch. It was 7:30! It’s easy to loose track of the time when you’re away from city lights.

Night games, part II

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping cards and rice wine

Instead, we got our stuff organized in the tents and then walked over to the gazebo. Adit’s team has just finished cleaning up. With those duties out of the way, they pulled out a bottle of locally-made rice wine and settled into a card game. And an interesting card game it was. They invited us to sit in, but we didn’t play as we couldn’t figure out how the game worked. It turns out they were playing remi, which is the Indonesian version of Rummy, but at the time we sat trying to figure out the rules.

We knew that it worked on points. We also knew that whoever had the lowest score had to wear a huge hunk of coral on his ear! Apparently, they usually play with stones or bottle of water, but you use what you have around.

Keiko and our girl soon went off to bed while the boy and I stuck around. I may have drunk a cup (or three) of rice wine. Then after an hour or so, we headed off to bed as well.

The tents slept two comfortably, but you could easily fit a few kids in there with you if you wanted. For us, we preferred for the kids to have their own tent. The pillows and sleeping mats were surprisingly comfortable. However, in temperatures like this, the vinyl/faux-leather finish can make your skin sweaty if in direct contact. I put a towel over my pillow because I’m already a super sweaty guy.

Sunrise on the Island

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping gili ocean high tide

Morning comes early when you’re sleeping on a beach in the tropics. The temperature in our tent rose quickly after sunrise. When I stepped out, Adit and Amet were making breakfast.

After we ate, I went for a quick dip to wash off the sweat and grime of 24 hours in the same clothes. Then I put those same clothes back on and it was time to go. I thought I was gone for only 10 minutes. But when I returned to the campsite, everything was packed up and the boat from yesterday was pulling in. We grabbed our bags and climbed aboard.

Barely an island: Gili Kapal

On the way back to the mainland, Adit told us he wanted to show us one last Gili. Only a proper island at low tide, Gili Kapal wasn’t much more than a mound of sand and coral peeking out above the ocean’s surface. Here we took possibly my favorite pictures of the entire trip (see above).

After this short visit, it was back to the harbor. Then it was back to Ade’s place, where we said goodbye to the crew before Ari drove us to our next villa.

Usually, on the second day of Ade’s Gili Kondo Island Hopping Tour, the guide will take you to Tiu Kelep Waterfall and a traditional Sasak village.

If you have the time for this, definitely do it. We visited the village and waterfall a few days before and so had planned to cover something else that afternoon, so we asked to return early. However, the village tour is quite interesting and the waterfall is one of the most beautiful in Indonesia. Moreover, its cold cascades would also be amazingly refreshing after a day of salt and sand on camping on Gili Kondo.

Back to Civilization

Our driver, Arie, drove us very slowly and safely again back to the Lombok’s west side. I want to emphasize this because of its rarity. Car rides in Indonesia can be quite scary for first-timers. People pass each other on blind curves and scooters roll into the road without even looking to see if someone’s coming. This is the norm.

In contrast, Ari drove with a measured calm I’ve rarely seen. It was intentional. I occasionally saw him fight the urge to drive “Indonesian style,” and I’m sure that the ride would have been different if we weren’t riding along. I bring this up not only because of how much calmer I was in the front seat but also because of how much more sleep my kids got in the back seat. We had about three hours of drive time both coming and going. Knowing Keiko and the kids could rest was priceless.

Rinjani Fun Trekking Review: Main Points

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping boat back to the car

Want to cut to the chase and see some of the main points I made in this Rinjani Fun Trekking review? See below.

Things we liked

  • Ade’s flexibility: we changed plans several times, then asked him if we could make an extra stop to drop off our stuff. Ade did his best to accommodate us.
  • Ade’s responsiveness: No matter when I contacted him, Ade responded quickly. First, it was via email. Then we switched to WhatsApp and he was even more responsive.

Things we loved

  • No work: we love camping, but camping without the work of camping was even better! Adit’s team took care of all of camping’s annoying duties: cooking, cleaning, making camp and packing up.
  • No mosquitoes! But apparently, this is seasonal (we visited in May — ask Ade about the best times).
  • Arie’s driving. You’re spending several hours in Arie’s car going to and from the eastern coast of Lombok. Having slow and steady driving not only means you feel safer, but your kids can rest when they need to.

Other Things Worth Mentioning

  • Drop off your stuff: arrange to leave most of your stuff at your next hotel before your leave, or ask Ade what works best. It’s so much nicer packing light for this boat/camping trip.
  • Bring sandals if possible: we spend 90% of our time barefoot or in flip flops. But there were a few spots on the beach where rocks and broken coral pieces make for an uncomfortable walk.
  • Bring sunscreen: the Lombok sun is merciless. There is shade, but you’ll be spending time on small boats and bright beaches.
  • Eat lunch at the harbor or bring some snacks along, but don’t bring too much or you’ll ruin your appetite like we did.
  • There’s no toilet: there is a small pay toilet open during the day time at the one shack/shop we saw on Gili Kondo. Once the store is closed, it’s back to nature. Don’t expect fancy.
  • Drink plenty of water: Adit’s team brought more than enough, but we had to remind ourselves to drink often.

Ready to try Rinjani Fun Trekking?

This is a great trip to take if you enjoy roughing it a bit and want to see a less touristy side of Lombok. If it’s not clear from our Rinjani Fun Trekking review, we had a blast and would do it again. We might even bring our boots and go up the volcano next time. Was our Rinjani Fun Trekking review helpful? Would you do a trip like this? Or have you?

Check the official Rinjani Fun Trekking website for more info. Remember Ade is SUPER responsive.

Read what others’ say about Rinjani Fun Trekking.

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review PIN 2

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping gili ocean high tide PIN 4

Disclosure: Our Gili Kondo trip was sponsored by Rinjani Fun Trekking which have had no influence on my opinions and endorsement. This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you, we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help your travel.

Comments

  1. Hi,
    So how many days at these islands? And how does one get here from Bali? This is minus trekking Rinjani of course.
    Thanks!

    • Ferries from Bali’s Amed harbor take you to Gili Trawangan in half an hour. Longer if you take a cheaper/slower local boat. What we did was basically 24-36 hours. They picked us up in the morning, drove us to the boat, we did the island hopping and then camped on one island overnight. They cooked us breakfast in the morning and broke down camp, a little more swimming and then back to Lombok where they drove us to our next accomm. The company is called Rinjani Fun Trekking but the same guides do this trip too. Just contact Ade (the owner) through their website and he can give you any additional emails — he’s really good at keeping in touch :-).

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