Mount Rinjani, the second highest mountain in Indonesia, is an volcano on the island of Lombok and a spectacular destination for trekkers seeking a challenging experience. The less adventurous can also experience the unspoiled, natural beauty of the of Mount Rinjani by taking a day hike to the Tiu Kelep waterfalls.
It is advisable to book the hike through a reputable tour company and go with a guide. Footwear should be sturdy enough for clambering over rocks, but also suitable for walking through mountain streams. Sturdy sandals without socks are probably the best option, as socks will get uncomfortably soggy. Those who want to bathe in the falls will also need to take along swimwear and a towel.
The hike begins with a pleasant walk along the edge of an irrigation canal. The canal takes water to the rice fields, and is also used by the local people for laundry and bathing. The terrain becomes more mountainous and the hike gets more challenging as as the climb towards Tiu Kelep, begins. While walking along a narrow path which clings to the side of a hill, the observant hiker will see holes in the hillside to the right. These are windows into a pipeline which transports water down to the irrigation canal in the valley below.
Further on, there are cement steps to climb, and then a “bridge” to cross which is actually an aqueduct. The aqueduct is covered with foot wide cement slabs spaced about a foot apart. The water flowing through the channel below can be clearly seen through the spaces between the slabs, and it is important to hold on the handrail, as this can be quite a disorienting experience. Further up is a working lock which directs the water coming from the mountain into one of two channels for irrigating different farming areas below.
It is a fairly rigorous hour’s climb up to Tiu Kelep, but the reward upon arrival will be to relax and enjoy the spectacular beauty of the falls. Tiu Kelep means flying water and the falls do literally fly out and away from the hillside. It is said that those who bathe in the pool below the waterfall will add years to their lives, so a refreshing swim could be in order here before heading back down past the locks and over the aqueduct bridge.
An alternative way back is to walk part of the way through the pipeline mentioned above. If the tour guide is agreeable, it is possible to enter the tunnel where the canal flows down to the rice fields below. The water flows rapidly, so care must be taken to keep shoes and possessions secure at all times. The tunnel is cave-like: dark, cool and dank. Care must be taken as there are frequent rocky outcrops above and the cement flooring below has broken away in places, leaving only rebar to walk on. Evenly spaced along the tunnel soft, green light filters through ferns growing around apertures which are actually the holes in the hillside observed on the way up.
It takes about 15 or 20 minutes to reach the other end, climb out of the canal on metal steps affixed to the side of the canal, and continue back through the forest to the trek center. This amazing hike will provide unforgettable memories of walking across an aqueduct, bathing in the fountain of youth, and spelunking in a water tunnel.