Lake Toba In Brief


Lake Toba is the world’s largest volcanic lake that has over 100 attractions. It offers not only beautiful views and resorts but also the distinctive culture of its people. It is a place close to wildlife, too. Below is a brief overview of Lake Toba.

Location and History

Lake Toba is 4.5 hours by car from the city of Medan of Indonesia, which is about one-hour flight north-west of Singapore, South East Asia. To see it on the map, click here. The lake emerged following the largest volcanic eruption ever to occur on earth, approximately 74,000 years ago. The super-eruption ejected some 2,800-3,200 cubic kilometers (670-770 cu mi) of materials to as far as Sri Lanka and the Bay of Bengal. The Toba catastrophe theory suggests that the eruption plunged the earth to 6 years without summer and decreased human population to only 3,000-10,000 people. See the History of Lake Toba.


Hills, villages, and mountains surround Lake Toba. The lake has the surface area of 1,130 square kilometers (436 sq mi). There is an island, called Samosir, inside it. Lake Toba and Samosir boast panoramic landscapes, beaches, waterfalls, hot springs, and adventures. The green pine forest, the calm lake, and red-top traditional houses are the main views. Waterfalls are many, and each comes with its attraction. For example, Sipiso-Piso Waterfall is tall and colorful. The large stream of water penetrates underground then drops as high as 120 meters (40 ft) from the lip of the spring. It looks like a knife that pierces the forest. The sparks and splashes that occur throughout the day and night have formed an eternal rainbow in the fountain below. See the Profile of Lake Toba.


Residents are predominantly Bataks, known for their distinctive cultural identity. For example, Bataks have their language and script of their own. Their house designs are unique and philosophical. Most tourists come to Lake Toba for the amusement of its culture as much as its history and nature. Two villages of Samosir, i.e., Tomok and Ambarita, are apparently the most original place to see the Batak’s culture. For example, Tomok is a village that has many ancient relics such as the Stone Chairs of King Siallagan. Meanwhile, Ambarita is a village that has several important attractions such as Manortor and the Sigale-gale puppet dance performance. See the People and Culture on Lake Toba.


Lake Toba also offers wildlife attractions, i.e., Bukit Lawang, Tangkahan, and Tahura National Park. Bukit Lawang is a gateway to Gunung Leuser National Park, where the tourists meet orangutans (pongo abelii), one of two species of orangutans in Indonesia. You can find Pongo abelii only on the island of Sumatra. Tangkahan is a famous breeding ground for wild elephants and clean rivers. Tahura National Park is a good place to see monkeys, tigers, gibbons, wild pigs, snakes, eagles, deer, pangolins, and much more, in their wildlife.

See also Destinations on Lake Toba.