As the novelist Graham Green once wrote, “destruction is a form of creation”, then it seemed no better example on Earth than Lake Toba. This vast area of water in the northern part of Sumatra, Indonesia, was the result of a huge super volcano erupting about 75,000 years ago. This is a catastrophic event that completely changed the island’s topography and might also threaten human survival.
Toba expelled more than 2,800 cubic kilometers of magma, forming a volcanic ash cloud at least as far as Malawi (7,500 kilometers from East Africa), and causing the global volcanic winter to last as long as ten years. In the following centuries, full of rain and river water, the remaining 100 kilometers by 30 kilometers of the crater became the largest crater lake in the world, covering an area of 1,130 square kilometers (20 square kilometers larger than all the islands and territories of Hong Kong), and subsequent volcanic activity led to Samosir Island, an island almost the size of Singapore, rising from the magma chamber below to the center of Lake Toba.
Fast forward to today, it is quite difficult to associate this earth-shaking commotion and fiery destruction with the calm waters, cool weather, and laid-back lifestyle of Lake Toba. The lake is located at an altitude of 900 meters above sea level. It is surrounded by lush vegetation on towering hillsides, reminiscent of the epic glacier carving landscape of Scandinavia or New Zealand. Low clouds and mist move from the water surface to this place from time to time, is an almost mysterious air.
When you are on vacation on Lake Toba, please stop by at Parapat, a small town about four hours’ drive from the Kualanamu International Airport in Medan. From there you can take a brightly colored wooden ferry to get there. Second one you must also visit is Tuk-Tuk Island, which is located on a small kidney-shaped peninsula on the northeast coast of Samosir. It is the center of Lake Toba tourism, although its cluster of modest beach hotels and a few low-key restaurants and bars make it look more like a resort than a resort Said to be a forgotten backwater.
This is a special place in ruins. You can imagine that it flourished with the first wave of tourism on Lake Podoba, then slowly weakened as the tide receded, although it is said to be somewhat different in the middle of summer. The Germans and Dutch visited en masse at that time; during the Lunar New Year, when Chinese tour groups arrived in droves, the price of accommodation skyrocketed. However, for now, it is a ghost town. For less than IDR 200,000 per night, you could own a traditional Batak house with a wooden deck hanging over the lake.
Although the view of the lake, the calm atmosphere, and the magnificent sky are enough to visit Samosir Island, there are many natural wonders and interesting cultural sites on the island that are worth exploring. Given the size of Samosir and the distance between its most unique attractions, it is best to rent a motorcycle to get around. However, road conditions and the number of blind corners make it necessary to stay sane.
To learn more about the local Batak culture, you may go to Ambarita, a charming old town with a terrible history of tribal justice and cannibalism. Here, you could see a series of traditional Batak houses that have stood for nearly two centuries; known for their unique high pointed ceilings, they provide a glimpse into the way of life of the Batak people until recently. However, if you want to properly understand the many peculiar features of the house, from a set of breast-shaped domes that are believed to increase fertility to the gecko that symbolizes the family and the gargoyle that protects the spirit, hiring a guide in Ambarita is essential.
However, more interesting is the circle of small stone chairs found under a lone tree in the town center. This is where the tribal committee meets to discuss village affairs and occasionally torture and execute criminals. As one of the storytelling style guides tells, the criminals are here tied to a stone and tortured for hours to make sure they are free of black magic. Finally, the terrible ritual ended with the beheading of the poor prisoner so that the king could drink blood from his skull and then eat a terrible dish made with the organs of the dead and diced lemon and spices.
Whether your trips take you on a long stroll on beaches, delicious cuisines, relaxing spasand resorts, or urban attractions, additional research will give you the best experience for your visit. Get to know more about Lake Toba by visiting Wonderful Indonesia.