North Sumatra is home to the largest volcanic lake in the world – Lake Toba.
The sheer size of the eruption is clear when you visit the caldera that remains. You are effectively standing where the supervolcano blew itself to pieces, at the sight of the most cataclysmic natural disaster in human history. An event that changed the course of human history forever.
And it makes for an incredible holiday.
Lake Toba is 100km long, 30km wide and 505 meters deep
The Site of a Super Volcano Eruption around 70,000 years ago
The eruption = VEI 8, registering as the largest in 25 million years
The Toba Catastrophe Theory suggests the event killed most humans living at the time
This created a population bottleneck in East Africa, where Homo Sapiens were able to thrive and expand across the world with minimal competition from other kinds of human.
When you’re basking in the awesomeness of Lake Toba, you become incredibly aware of how massive the explosion must have been. You are literally chilling in the crater that changed the world.
Things To Do
Samosir is where most of the tourist activity takes place, as it represents the best place to view the whole lake. ProTip: Fly into Silangit Airport to turn the 4-hour drive from Medan into 2 hours!
Sipiso Piso Waterfall
Lake Toba is littered with waterfalls, but Sipiso Piso – at 120 meters high – is Indonesia’s largest waterfall. At the northernmost tip of the caldera, it flows right into the Lake itself.
For the grandest views of the Lake, the mountain of Pusuk Buhit is a must. Panoramic views of the worlds largest volcanic lake cannot be done justice in a photograph. You have to live it.
This beach on the lake has surprisingly white sand, that manages to avoid the plastic ridden fate of many Indonesian beaches. It’s also the home of water sports on Samosir for the junkies in need of an injection of adrenaline amongst Toba’s tranquil silence.
Is a wonderfully quaint, though woefully underfunded and uninformative museum. If you were hoping to learn anything about Batak history, you would be better off asking Google. However, the Sigale Gale puppet show with the Batak architectural backdrop is worth visiting.
Batak Architecture and Abundant Churches
Take a motorbike around Samosir to really get into the heart of Batak culture, and soak up the unique architecture. As a Christian majority region, Churches are everywhere, providing a huge distinction from most of Indonesia. Children at the foot of these Batak inspired churches readily offer waves and cheers to passers-by.
Places to Stay, Eat and Play.
Tabo cottages provide the best blend of authentic Batak experience and hospitality, right on the lakefront of Samosir with arguably to the most eye-catching scenery on the island. There is little in the way of fancy restaurants, so it’s a case of going quaint and local – or going home. Roy’s pub brings the live band and beers every night of the week.
Lake Toba is a holiday experience that offers relaxation and adventure in equal measure. The Lake itself is incredibly (and surprisingly) clean. Perhaps due to the fact that the Batak people who have called it home for thousands of years a well aware of their relationship to it, and take great steps maintain it.
As tourism explodes over the next few years, it’s up to the tourists as much as the developers, to sustain the amazing beauty of the largest volcanic lake in the world.