Kamis, 10 Mei 2012


Lake Toba is awfully the largest fantastic volcanic lake in the world and is in North Sumatra, Indonesia. An eruption of giant volcano of Toba mountain about 74 thousand years ago has formed a biggest volcanic lake in the world, Lake Toba. The lake was so extensive and resembles a sea across 6 regency territories in North Sumatra province.

Fresh breeze blows around hills which are circling the Lake. Sailing across the lake by rented motor boat is a splendid way to enjoy the beauty of Lake Toba. You can also stop by in Samosir Island, a big island in the middle of the lake which reaches the height of on 1.000 meter above sea level.

Lake Toba is an immense volcanic lake covering an area of 1,707 sq km (1,000 sq km bigger than Singapore) with an island in the center. It is probably the largest resurgent caldera on Earth. Some studies say it might have been associated with causing previous ice age/climate change and the largest human population bottleneck ever. Genetic estimates suggests that there were only a few thousand individuals that survived the catastrophe. The island in the middle - Pulau Samosir - was joined to the caldera wall by a narrow isthmus, which was cut through to enable boats to pass, a road bridge crosses the cutting. Samosir island is the cultural centre of Batak tribe who are mostly Christians in the modern days. 

There are hot springs on the western side of the island just across the causeway from Pangururan. The water is hot. Locals usually use their hands to get some water out of the pool, standing in the pool is possible, but you probably won't be able to swim. The fee to enter to the surroundings is Rp 2,000. The pools are free, there's some special foreigner pool for Rp 10,000. Another interest place in Samosir area :
  • Samosir - Many Big Statues as Cemeteries for Batak people ancestors
  • Samosir, Simanindo - Batak Museum with traditional dance performed twice daily
  • Samosir, Ambarita - Stone chairs used for judgement and executions
  • Samosir, Tomok - Good place for locals and foreigner to shop for souvenirs. vegetable and fruits. There's a tomb for you to visit as well.
  • From Tuk Tuk you can see a waterfall up the mountain behind you. It's a great walk with a rewarding fresh swim.
To Get There
Most visitors fly to Medan and then travel by land to Parapat, the town by Lake Toba. Parapat is about 4 hours by car from Medan (4-6 hours by public bus). You can get from Medan airport to Lake Toba entirely by public transport if you wish. First, you must go from the airport to Amplas bus terminal. Walk through the car park and go out the main car exit of the airport, cross the road and turn left after the petrol station, and then turn right (about a ten-fifteen min walk altogether). There, you can catch a yellow public bus, number 64, to Amplas Terminal for Rp 3,000. From Amplas terminal, you can get a public bus to Parapat for Rp 22,000. So you can get from Medan airport to Parapat for a total of Rp 25,000 (October, 2010), and then get a ferry out to Samosir island for Rp 7,000.

From Medan Polonia airport you can fly directly to Silangit with Susi Air daily . Flights take approximately 40 minutes and is a much better and safer way than the road trip. 2012 April the flight costs 42 USD one way. However the transportation options at Silangit airport are very limited.
Alternatively, a scheduled and shared 7 passenger minivan to Parapat costs Rp 60,000 and can be arranged by most hotels in Medan (Feb 08). Tobatransporter contact/short message +6285261492668 or tobatransporter@hotmail.com who operates a private (5 seaters or 7 seaters) cab service leaving from Medan airport at scheduled times as well as appointment its take and that costs Rp 500,000 (Dec 11). Alternatively, you can book the whole taxi, a Toyota Avanza which seats seven, for Rp 450,000; but this vehicle is too small for 7 seats. Parapat is a nice little town with reasonable hotels/guest houses, good food options and so on. However its on the island itself that you get the real feeling of Lake Toba.

Parapat is connected to Tomok and Tuk Tuk on the Samosir Island by boat/ferry that run every 1-2 hr, the last one at 6PM (Rp 7,000). The place to catch the ferry to Tuk Tuk is called "Tiga Raja" harbour/jetty. Some ferry's owner are tourist hunter and will overcharge you for Rp 20-30,000 for the same trip to Samosir Island. In my opinion try to observe the ferry with wooden bench inside and light green colored ferry. Those are the ferries that charge Rp 7,000 and the locals take to cross over. Self proclaimed 'Tourist Hunters' may befriend you on the boat but are harmless and often helpful. Tuk Tuk is the main town to stay on Samosir. Use the boat service not the large ferry, they will drop you directly at your Tuk Tuk resort.

There are also two other harbour in Samosir, they are: Nainggolan (1 hour drive from Tomok) connected Muara, the ferry runs every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the other located in Simanindo (30 min drive) connected to Tigaras which runs daily until 6PM.
Please note: As of Feb 2011 here is only one cirrus/mastercard ATM on the island (at the white beach entrance), better to get enough cash at Parapat before crossing the lake to the island.

Another great way to get to Lake Toba is by train. Two or three trains leave each day in that direction and you want to get off either at Pematang Siantar or Tebing Tinggi (note: the train stops at one or the other). If you want to get to the train directly from Medan airport, get a taxi or becak, and tell them or write Lapangan Merdeka and Stasiun Kereta Api Medan. From the station there's only 2 train leaves Medan to Permatang Siantar (or Siantar) which is 11AM and 7:25PM. The fare is Rp 12,000 per person and the journey takes approximately 3-4 hr. Train stop at almost each station. Once you reach the Siantar station double check the schedule for the train for going back to Medan.
Then take a Becak or walk to the bus/taxi hub to travel to Perapat. The train is a wonderful way to travel if you like to learn more culture on their daily living and lifestyle. Once you are in your seat and have a stream of buskers, food vendors and friendly local passing by you will know why this is often the best way to travel overland. From Siantar (1 hour taxi) or Tebing Tinggi (2 hr taxi) you will need to hire a taxi or a bus for road transport to Parapat.

The ferry ride over is fantastic, just truly peaceful, apart from the car radios playing, the ladies selling peanuts, bottled water, mie or pretty much anything else. Normally some of the passengers and vendors will be able to speak English. Landing at the other end of the 1 hour ferry journey is daunting, but again, behave like everyone else in Indonesia and just push, ever so politely, but firmly and eventually you will get off the ferry and onto the main road. Alternatively use the boat service but watch out for the guys that ask for the fee before you embark — they do not work for the operators, you pay on the boat.
The road signs are pretty much useless, as is asking the locals for directions. Anyway if you are going to Tuk Tuk keep going, even though it may seem to be taking forever and you have been stuck in the Kijang for 8 hrs= with 10 other people, but you will get there and the hosts will be wonderful.
Do not try to drive out of Samosir Island by going up and over the top to the land bridge. The road is very bad. It is also possible to go to Parapat from Dumai by mini-van, leaving in the afternoon. The trip takes around 11 hr, and costs Rp 150,000.

There are numerous hotels and guest houses, mainly in Tuk Tuk but with a few scattered in other small towns around the island. During Chinese New Year (end of Jan/early Feb), many Indonesians come for vacation and will pay generously for their rooms (about triple the rate). To accommodate these guests, some guest house owners may ask their existing guests to vacate their rooms, but only giving them very short notice. Therefore, when arriving before Chinese New Year, check with the guest house owner to ensure your stay will not be interrupted.
  • Bagus Bay, +62 625 451287Next to the lake. A dark wood and bamboo bar/restaurant gives the place a relaxed feel. The most rooms are basic. They have a restaurant and internet computers. Free secure WIFI. Rp 30,000-175,000
  • Barbara`s Guesthouse, Ambarita, +62 625 700 0230 (). Small quite relaxing place a few km from Tuk Tuk with lovely scenery and good swimming. Rooms are clean and located in several houses. Western and Indonesian style food is served in the restaurant or on the terrace. Tourist information and good tips about Sumatra. From Rp 70,000
  • Hotel Carolina, Tuk-Tuk, +62 625 451210 (). 49 rooms set in a beautiful tropical garden. It has a restaurant with a verandah overlooking the lake. Staff are very helpful. Small Batak style cottages up the hill have cold water only. Luxury rooms on the lake shore come with hot water, a bath tub and a fridge. They have a lake area for swimming with a diving board and pontoon to relax. The hotel can organise travel, trips and motorbike rental. Computer room and free wifi in the restaurant area, though the speed can be very slow. Rp 45,000-150,000+10%.  
  • Ebikel's Homestay, (just next to Hotel Carolina). Homestay with a decent room and affordable price. The owner Ebikel is a helpful and willing guide to Samosir Island. 
  • Christina Guesthouse, Tuk-Tuk, +62 625 451027. A small relaxing place with lovely scenery and good swimming. Rooms are clean and located in several traditional Batak-houses). Internet and skype access are available for reasonable price. Western and Indonesian style food is served in the restaurant. General tourist information and good tips about Sumatra. From Rp 50,000.  
  • Liberta Homestay, Sosor Galung, +62 625 451035. It has quiet private cabins on the lake. Friendly owner Mr Moon will sing, cook, and go out of his way for you. He also provides a herbal blend against diarrhea. Rp 35,000+
  • Mas Cottages, (about 2 km from Tuk Tuk towards Ambarita). Closer to the ancient ceremonial stone chairs than downtown Tuk-Tuk. Variety of accommodation options all directly on the lake including suites and traditional Batak houses. Prices are a bit higher for this secluded location. Rooms with hot water, but the hot water is unreliable. Good breakfast. No wifi or internet, and the nearby internet cafĂ© seems always to be closed. Rp 60,000-70,000
  • Romlan, +62 625 451386 (). Small guesthouse with 12 rooms including 2 batak cottages in both a single and a 2 storey building. The rooms are clean and comfortable with attached bathroom. All rooms have a direct lake view. Good for swimming and relaxing. Local and indonesian food including some German meals. Free Wifi. Private boat dock. Cottages Rp 40,000, rooms Rp 100,000
  • Samosir Cottages, Tuk-tuk, +62 625 451170 (). Good for those who arrive late in Parapat, there is usually a representative to take them to the cottages. The waterfront is clean, and the large restaurant food and drinks. Batak music provided every Wed night and Sat night. If you walk outside the hotel you can use a local cafe which may offer some more variety and cheaper prices. They also own Samorsir Villa Resort 5 mins drive away. Its sister resort has new rooms, free internet, a pool and a restaurant providing food and drinks. From Rp 200,000.  
  • Tabo Cottages, Tuk-tuk, +62 625 451 318 (), [10]. Rooms are clean and quite modern by Sumateran standards. Free wifi. Western-styled food served in the restaurant is good. From Rp 120,000
  • Tony's Guest House, (ask any local). Nice people and nice double room. Vegetable taco for Rp 21,000. From Rp 25,000
  • Aman guesthouse, Tuk tuk (Next to tony's). Traditional Batak houses with hot water shower. Rp 40,000-50,000rps per room. 
Parnas Homestay and Bar, Tuktuk Siadong - Samosir Island, Parapat 22395, Indonesia, +62 625 451167. A very chilled out place on the left wing of the peninsula Tuktuk. 4 very spacious and beautifully furnished rooms with bathroom, direct access to the lake and stunning views. There's a huge Bar and restaurant with a communal room. Free Pool Billiard, Table Tennis, Darts. Live Musik, Scooter Rental, BBQ, Laundry. Rooms between Rp 60.000 in low Season and Rp 150.000 in high season (note: confirm the agreed room price in writing as it may change when you get the bill)

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