Senaru is normally thought of as the key gateway village to an arduous trek up Mount Rinjani. There is a lot more to this area than that though, and those visitors less inclined towards serious trekking should not be discouraged from visiting here. There are some cute little places to stay, and glorious scenery all around, including some notable waterfalls.
The village of Batu Koq about one km to the north, almost merges as one with Senaru these days.
It is possible, if a little difficult, to get to Senaru by bus from Mataram. From the main Mataram bus terminal take a bus headed towards Anyar. These are infrequent, there is no reliable timetable and the journey is 2.5-3 hours. From Anyar, regular bemos run to Senaru until about 4PM every daily.
Guides for waterfall trips
Payment fees to guide visitors to the first waterfalls are frequently demanded by local touts and guides. At times these activities can be quite aggressive and demanding. This behaviour is not officially sanctioned by the regional tourism authorities and a guide is not formally required to visit the waterfall sites. The majority of these informal guides have little if anything to contribute to the visit other than to demand a payment. If they bother you excessively ask to see their Izin (permit). Very few if any of the pestering touts will have one, when they are unable to produce this just wave them away.
Access to the primary waterfall of Air Terjun Sendang Gila is by way of an established pathway and steps and requires no special skills or knowledge as this pathway leads directly and quite unambiguously to the primary waterfall destination. The fixed price entrance fee is posted at the ticket booth at the top of the steps leading down to the waterfall site.
If unsuccessful in gaining direct payment from a visitor the local touts and informal guides often demand a payment from the driver or guide who brought the visitor to the site. The extraction of this payment may be done in a manner that is not immediately apparent to the visitor. Some of the accompanying guides and drivers who escort visitors to the Senaru area may explain this to the visitor, others may not.
A reputable and suitably experienced guide is recommended to walk to the second waterfall. The use of a local guide is not required as most of the established and reputable Lombok tourism guides who take visitors to Senaru know this area well. It is essential to have a guide for Air Terjun Tiu Kelep as this third and more distant waterfall has a requirement for suitable climbing skills and equipment.
If a serious disputation develops with the local self proclaimed guides at Senaru then explain to them that you will leave the site and travel to an alternative location.
Aside from Mount Rinjani itself, the key attractions around here are the two well known waterfalls (air terjun). Guides abound in Senaru, and you might find it difficult walking anywhere without one. The best strategy is often to find a guide you like, agree a nominal price (under Rp 50,000) and have he or she (very unusually for Lombok, women guides are available here) accompany you. If nothing else, this will keep the others from hassling you.
Air Terjun Sindang Gila (En. Slightly Crazy Waterfalls). The best known and most spectacular of the three. The water cascades everywhere here breaking some 50 m above the main arrival point. From Senaru village walk about 20 minutes to the southeast. The path is pleasant and leads through some splendid tropical forest. edit
Air Terjun Tiu Kelep. Less spectacular but still very much worth it. Continue on uphill from Sindang Gila for about 40-60 minutes (depending on your fitness - this will involve a steep uphill climb and a creek crossing and several other obstacles). Tiu Kelep has a nice bathing pool below the falls with very cool invigorating water.edit
All of the local bungalows and homestays have simple cafes attached.
There are a few simple warungs on the road between Senaru and Batu Koq villages. The local Sasak food is excellent — try to to stick with the authentic local cooking as the the dull, generic western traveller dishes may disappoint.
Pondok Indah (Hotel&Restaurant), Jl. Raya Bayan-Senaru, ☎ +6281916030327. 10 clean rooms at this simple hotel. All rooms have private bathrooms and western toilets, bath or shower, work desk. Restaurant, car park, garden, WiFi 24 hr. Price inclusive of breakfast for 2 people only, if more then 2 people additional charge shall be applied. Rate includes 20% for government tax & service charge. Extra bed hire will be additional charge. No charge guest aged 8 yo or under sharing with parent.From Rp 125,000. edit
Pondok Senaru, Senaru village. Rooms here are quite grand by Rinjani standards (they have hot water for example).From Rp 300,000. edit
Rinjani Mountain Garden, Teres Genit village, ☎ +62 818 569730. A German owned and run establishment that is certainly different from the others. Offers luxury camping in delightful gardens with a swimming pool and hot showers. All equipment is provided.edit
Pondok Gunung Baru (Hotel and Restaurant), Senaru (5 mins further on from Emi's Cafe, on the right hand side), ☎ +62 819 07411211. A more recent arrival at Senaru, has views and basic clean and comfortable accomodations.Rp 70,000-100,000. edit
Horizon Senaru Villa & Restaurant, Senaru Village, ☎ +62 818 03676069, . Simple and compact, private 2 bedroom bungalow overlooking Mt Rinjani and the valley below. Generous size rooms. The master bedroom has a living room with beautiful views. Rent either room or the whole bungalow. Bathrooms have traditional shower.From Rp 300,000. edit