Who doesn’t know lake Toba? This Southeast Asia’s biggest lake has long been a dream vacation site for Indonesians. It’s becoming more popular these days that a bigger surge of foreign travelers come to discover its enchantment.
It seems that lake is not the most preferable name for Toba. This nature wonder looks more similar to the sea rather than a lake to some degree. Toba features ocean-blue water with the depth of 450 meters. The lake banks are also invisible as it stretches as far as 1.145 km2. So, it’s no wonder that Toba ranks as the second largest lake in the world after Africa’s lake Victoria.
Directly bordering the edges of lake Toba is mountain and hills. The cool weather around is more refreshing with an expanse of meadow and pine trees. As you take a journey around the lake, you’ll enjoy green field area dotted with Bolon (Bataknese traditional houses) on the valleys.
Toba came after a very ancient volcano exploded 75,000 ago. The quality of the eruption is unbearable for it was able to kill 60% of world population. Scientists are sure that the disaster brought earth into the ice age.
There is a beautiful island lying in the middle of the lake. Called Samosir, the land covers an area nearly as big as Singapore. In fact, Samosir is not an island to itself but rather a land jutted out over the lake. Samosir is actually still attached to the mainland by a narrow isthmus before finally separated by canal.
Samosir by itself is the best spot to get the all-direction view of lake Toba. On this island, experiencing Toba comes into many activities. Whether while sipping coffee, swimming under waterfalls or taking a dip in hot springs, whatever the options, all can be found on the bank of the lake. Challenge seekers may try to swim and dive in the lake with Samosir kids. Whatever the activities, each offers delighting experience.
The middle part of Samosir is packed with pine trees whereas its outer part is dotted with rice fields, churches, Bolon houses and Batak cultural landmarks. All the Bataknese here keep paying homage to their traditions. It’s easy to encounter customary rites and cultural performances as you walk around the villages. In Tomok for instance, tourists will be treated to Sigale-gale dance performance before visiting King Sidabutar graveyard and Batak Museum.
Enjoying view of Toba at high altitude is another delight offered by Samosir. Hike Pusit Buhit Mountain, a sacred area believed to be the starting point of Bataknese civilization. On top of this 1700 high mount, lake Toba looks as soothing as blue sky.
The best accommodations of Toba tourism mainly center in two areas. The option is in Parapat, a city in the east side of Toba. In Parapat you can choose whether hotels, guest houses, homestays or more private accommodation like villas and bungalows. The other, meanwhile, are found around Tuk Tuk village nestling on the east edge of Samosir.
Accommodations in Tuk Tuk boasts better offers than those in Prapat in term of budget. They are mostly cheaper with fairly good service. Budget hotels here are already very clean and comfort. Another advantage comes from the location. Tuk Tuk enjoys the cape of Samosir with a better chance of lake Toba’s panoramic view.
How to Get There
Prapat is the best transit point to get to lake Toba. This city is located about 176 km from Kualanamu airport, the main airport in Medan. From Kualanamu, travelers may choose taxi with the cost of ± Rp 75.000 or travel car charging Rp70.000–80.000/person. Both transports will take you directly to Prapat. For budget travelers, meanwhile, one cheaper alternative is taking Medan-Prapat bus that charges Rp 40.000/person.
In Prapat, ferries will take you to Samosir. It costs only Rp 10.000/person and will come every half and an hour from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.