Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Thu July 28 2016

Opinion Home | Notes from the Goats

  • Nick and Dariece | July 28, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    Lake Toba, Indonesia's Natural Wonder

    Lake Toba, Indonesia's Natural Wonder

    Photos by Goats on the Road

    When we heard that there was a massive lake inside of a volcano caldera, we were more than a little intrigued. When we found out that there was an island on that lake, inside of the caldera, and that we could sleep there, we definitely had to check it out!

    On the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, about a four- to six-hour bus ride from the city of Medan, there is a lake called Toba. This is a hotspot for Chinese tourists during Chinese New Year, and for backpackers traveling around SE Asia. Bali is a popular island in Indonesia, but few people actually make it to the largest island of Sumatra. Those who do, however, will be rewarded with natural beauty, with Lake Toba being the star.

    sunset on lake toba indonesia

    Rimming the volcano caldera of Lake Toba are some small towns, with Parapat being the jumping off point to the large island in the middle of the lake. The island is called Samosir, and it's almost the size of Singapore! The island is enormous, and so is the lake. Toba covers about 440 square miles, and is at a depth of 1,475 feet. This is one of the deepest lakes in the world.

     lake toba indonesia

    Samosir Island is where you'll want to stay, and most travelers opt to sleep in the Tuktuk area of the island, which is about a one-hour ferry ride from the mainland town of Parapat.

    READ MORE: Conquering Bali's Mount Batur Volcano

    Imagine waking up in the morning and seeing the beautiful lake just a few meters from your doorstep. There are many hotel and guesthouse options, which offer travelers stunning lake views and tranquility. Some of the accommodation options are so close to the lake that you can jump in from your balcony... if you're brave enough!

    We stayed at the funky Reggae Guesthouse and highly recommend the cool Batak style rooms. Lake Toba's water is clean and clear, and because it's a volcanic lake, it is naturally warm! Jump into the water, go for a swim or a kayak, or do as the locals do and try your hand at fishing.

    One of the many interesting things about the island of Samosir is the Batak culture and people living here. Their language is different from Bahasa Indonesia, and their architecture is unique and very beautiful...but those aren't the only differences. The Batak people used to be cannibals! Not only cannibals, but they would actually eat the convicted criminals raw.

      batak toba indonesia

    In the 19th century, German missionaries brought Christianity to the Batak people here, most of whom have now converted to this religion, and thankfully, cannibalism is a thing of the past.

    In the village of Ambarita you can still see some ancient stone furniture, which was used for the beheading of the criminals. Make sure to also visit the Batak museum, watch traditional dancing and head to the village of Tomok for authentic handicrafts and artwork. The Batak culture here is prominent and very interesting.

    READ MORE: World's Best Hotel Comes Complete with Treehouse

    Renting a motorbike is the best way to properly see the island and all that is has to offer. You can hire a "moto" from many locals, or from your guesthouse. Just ask around and look for signs. The cost is only about $7.50 a day. Split that between two people, and you've got yourself a very cheap way to explore.

    lake toba indoensia

    Some other notable sites on the island of Samosir include the hot springs near Pangururan (but they smell like sulfur!), and the beautiful waterfall up the mountain just behind Tuktuk. The best part about Lake Toba though is just relaxing with a book, watching the sun set each night, and enjoying the peace and calm that can be hard to come by in other parts of the country.

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Nick and Dariece Notes from the Goats

Nick and Dariece Nick and Dariece are the couple behind Goats On The Road, a website designed to inspire others to live a financially sustainable, location independent lifestyle. Masters at making money abroad and turning their travels into a way of life, they've been on the road since 2008 and have explored some of the least visited places on earth, finding adventure wherever they go. They are also full time contributors at Credit Walk where they share their expertise of making money and travelling forever. Check them out at Goats On The and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
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