Our long waited trip to Lake Toba has finally ended with great
experiences and memories. We even met some great friends during this
trip. Here is some information to share.
Medan is the capital of North Sumatra province, Indonesia and the
third largest city in Indonesia. It is also the gateway to Lake Toba
(also known as Danau Toba).
Lake Toba is the largest lake in South East Asia and the deepest in
the world. It was formed about 75,000 years ago after a volcano
eruption. It is the largest and deepest volcanic crater lake in the
world. It's 906 meters above sea level with an average depth of 450m.
The lake has an island in the middle called Samosir (guess what,
Samosir is the size of Singapore!).
photo by Tommy Lim
Samsoir can be reached by taking passenger ferry from Parapat which is
about 4 hours drive from Medan in a private car. The road condition is
not good and all drivers have terrified yet safe driving skill.
Overtaking and making horn is a norm there. While in Samosir, you will
find a totally different environment, very clean, calm, cooling and
Hotel/guesthouse and restaurant are mostly located at Tuk-Tuk with
cheap price, clean rooms and spectacular view of Lake Toba. If you opt
for two-storey traditional Batak house, try not to occupy the upper
level due to low water pressure problem.
Samosir has very little streetlight, it is good for star-gazing and
astro-photography though :) Power will cut-off whenever there is
strong wind, so better to have torchlight with you all the time. The
food price is reasonable and taste not bad too. You can find pork
served in this island because majority of the residents are Christian.
Besides relaxing or swimming at the lake, there are many interesting
places to visit too. For example, Ambarita, where you can see stone
chairs of the Ambarita tribal elders held council.
Simanindo, a small Toba Batak village. It is a restored house of Toba
Batak king now turned into museum with traditional Batak dance
performance everyday at 10.30am & 11.45am. At Tomok, you can find King
Sidabutar's tomb, vehicle ferry jetty and souvenir shops. Donâ€™t miss
the Hotspring at Pusuk Buhit Mountain. You may also drop by
Pangururan, the Samosir town/administraive centre to have lunch.
After spending 2nights stay at Samosir, we moved on to Berastagi,
about 5-6 hours drive from Parapat (70km from medan). On the way, we
visited Sipisopiso Waterfall, the view is spectacular! The waterfall
is 120m high and is formed by an underground river which flows out
into the Toba caldera.
Photo by Adeline Leong
The hotels in Berastagi is bit expensive than Samosir but it is
consider cheap compared to other hotels in major cities. We had our
dinner at roadside of Berastagi town, the food was delicious!
There are two active volcanoes close to Berastagi, Mount Sibayak and
Mount Sinabung. Since our flight is at night, we decided to do
trekking up to Mount Sibayak to see the craters and sulphur. The
journey took about 5 hours and it ended at Berastagi hot spring.
After came down, there is not much time left for us to visit Medan. We
only able to visit a unique church named Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni
Archdiocesan Pilgrimage Centre (Mary of Our Lady of Good Health). For
more information about this church, please visit :
Besides the usual souvenir like keychain, t-shirts or handycraft, you
could also try Medan famous Bika Ambon (Honey combed cake) and Kueh
Lapis (Layered Cake). We love the Kueh Lapis because it is not sweet at
all and with some spices fragrance. As for Bika Ambon, it is so sweet
and tasted so artificial.
To conclude with this trip, I would like to thank Henry Manik of
Samosir Tourism for his kindness and patience in providing Samosir
information as there is very limited information from the net. Samosir
deserve to get back its fame as in the 80s-90s!!
Visited May 2009