It is only a 2-hour ride from Senggigi to Senaru, the jumping off point for trekking up Mount Rinjani. A beautiful drive ran along the coast heading to north Lombok with occasional stops; black volcanic sand beaches, and at Bangsal. Bangsal Harbor is a small, forsaken spot on a black, volcanic beach where public and private boats from all three Gili Islands dock. There is nothing around, and I do mean nothing. No taxis. No transport. Make all your Gili Island arrangements through travel agents and tour operators who drop off and pick up clients. Small boats were loading perishables, and gigantic water tanks for transport since there is nothing on the Gili Islands but fun and sun. There was a pearl farming industry off the coast but visits aren’t allowed, and no one sells pearls on the beach; the pearls are all taken to Mataram, disappointing.
Other methods of transport to Gili Islands?
– The fast Gili Cat between Padang Bai and Gili;
– Blue Water Express leaves out of Benoa Harbor;
– Public and slow 5-1/2 hr ferries dock at Mataram; and
– Various charters.
Once in Senaru, we were “underwhelmed” by Pondok Senaru Cottages, our home for one night. The connected cottages are considered the best available. Six French, two other Americans, two Indonesians were the lucky guests, all of whom would climb Mount Rinjani tomorrow. The good news was wonderful views of Senaru Valley and Sendang Gile waterfall, dinner was good and not expensive.
The bad news, FYI only:
– Happy Trails had said Pondok Senaru had hot water and western-style toilets. There is no hot water. What water there is barely trickled out of the sink faucet. Western style toilets? Yes, but they don’t flush;
– The cottage walls were made of woven grass; thin and not exactly soundproof. During the night, I could have sworn a man snoring in the next room was sleeping in my bed. It took a few “pokes” at Steve before it dawned that the world-championship snoring was coming from the next room; and
– Ordering meals took unlimited patience. Requesting the majority of items listed on their menu sent us into gales of laughter. (Anything that makes me laugh can’t be all bad.) For example, “I’d like toast.” “So sorry, no toast.” “Could I have a banana jaffle?” (A toasted sandwich.) “Sorry, no bread to make it with.” “How about an omelet.” A blank stare. Five minutes later, waiter returns, “With cheese, tomatoes?”
Sendang Gile Waterfall was easily seen from the Pondok Senaru terrace. Closer views require a 20-minute walk down a graded trail and steps from Senaru village. Follow the posted signs. You can return along the edge of a steep valley if you want a little variety. A second waterfall, Tiu Kelep, is an hour’s walk upriver from Sendang Gile. Locals say that a swim in its deep pool will make you look a year younger. (I’d have to immerse myself for months at a time.) A walk was scheduled for closer views but neither of us felt like oozing down the mud trail.
Little did we know that our afternoon walk through the forest was going to be equally squishy!