5 Reasons to Visit Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia

There are many reasons to visit Lake Toba, the centerpiece of the Toba Caldera Geopark and the largest volcanic lake in the world. Lake Toba has a surface area of 1,130 square kilometers (436 sq mi) and a body length of 86 kilometers (53 mi). It is located 120 kilometers (75 mi) south of Medan, Indonesia. To see it on the map, click here.

We have considered an extensive list of reasons to justify even a long journey for most of you to come here. To make it brief, we have compiled five reasons to visit Lake Toba.

1. A Huge, Beautiful Lake


Lake Toba is more than twice as big as Lake Tahoe in California (191 sq mi). It boasts a large number of panoramic landscapes, beaches, waterfalls, hot springs, and adventures. The green pine forest, the calm lake, and traditional houses are the main views. There are many waterfalls and hot springs, too. 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 throughout the day and night and creates a rainbow in the fountain below. The adventures range from banana boats to paragliding, to name a few.

2. A Historic Place for Earth

history of lake toba

The lake emerged following the biggest 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 from Mount Toba, North Sumatra, to as far as Sri Lanka and the Bay of Bengal. As a comparison, the May 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens, Washington, produced one cubic kilometer of ash. The Toba catastrophe theory suggests that the tragedy plunged the earth to 6 years without summer and decreased human population to only 3,000-10,000 people. See History of Lake Toba.

3. Distinctive Culture

tari tortor

Residents are predominantly Batak, known for their distinctive cultural identity. For example, Batak have their language and script of their own. Their house designs are unique and philosophical. Six sub-tribes, i.e., Toba, Simalungun, Karo, Mandailing, Pakpak, and Angkola, form Batak people. Each sub-tribe has unique culture and traditions that collectively enrich the overall experience. For example, there are six types of Batak traditional housesMost tourists come to Lake Toba for the amusement of its culture as much as its history and nature. See People and Culture on Lake Toba.

4. Rare Wildlife

orangutan sumatra

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 you can meet orangutans (Pongo abelii), one of just three species of orangutans in the world. Another species called Pongo tapanuliensis also lives near Lake Toba, i.e. in North Tapanuli. You can find both of them only in Sumatra and the third species only in Borneo. Tangkahan is a famous breeding ground for wild elephants. Tahura National Park is an excellent place to see monkeys, tigers, gibbons, wild pigs, snakes, eagles, deer, pangolins, and much more, in their wildlife. See Fauna on Lake Toba.

5. Samosir Island

Samosir is an island in the middle of Lake Toba. With the size of 630 square kilometers (240 sq mi), it is the largest island within an island in the world. There is also a lake (Lake Sidihoni) within the lake on Samosir. Along with Lake Toba, Samosir treasures beautiful landscapes, beaches, and tranquility. It is also the center of Toba Batak culture. Two villages of Samosir, i.e., Tomok and Ambarita, are apparently the most original place to see the island’s culture. For example, Tomok has many ancient relics such as Tomb of King Sidabutar and some property of Batak Museum. Meanwhile, Ambarita is a village that has several famous attractions such as Manortor and the Sigale-gale puppet dance performance.

Above are the reasons why you should visit Lake Toba from the attraction standpoint.

Cost of the Visits

The cost of visiting the attractions are greatly affordable thanks to the weak local currency and its proximity to Singapore. The Rupiah has long been highly devalued against the major currencies. For example, you can find a nice, convenient cottage on Lake Toba for just US$ 7 to US$ 10 a night. A decent lunch can cost as low as US$ 1.50. Shop souveniers and t-shirts for as low as US$ 2 apiece when you get there. Lake Toba is only a 45-minute flight from Singapore. The cost consideration can be the complimentary reason to visit Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia.

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