Thirty-five kilometres east of Bali at its closest point, Islamic Lombok (80km by 70km) is populated by Sasak people. It differs considerably from its Hindu neighbour, with lots of wide-open spaces and unspoilt beaches, and much less traffic and pollution. Tourist facilities are less widespread and public transport sparser. The island’s northern area is dominated by the awesome bulk of Gunung Rinjani, and trekking at least part of the way up is the reason many tourists come to Lombok. Most base themselves in the nearby villages of Senaru or Sembalun Lawang. Other visitors enjoy the cool foothills at tiny Tetebatu and Sapit. The other big draw is the beaches. The trio of Gili Islands, just off the northwest coast, attracts increasing numbers of visitors, while the resort of Senggigi on the west coast and south-coast Kuta, a popular surfing centre, also offer a range of tourist facilities. Lombok’s capital and main city area Ampenan-Mataram-Cakranegara-Sweta has excellent transport connections and is pleasantly user-friendly.
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