13 Things to Do on Lake Toba
Most tourists spend their time by visiting over 100 attractions that Lake Toba has to offer (see Destinations on Lake Toba). They range from beaches to buildings, from peaks to parks, from waterfalls to wildlife. Besides, there are many activities you can do to make your trip more exciting. Below is the list of things to do on Lake Toba beside visiting the attractions.
Banana boat is a water recreation game using large banana-sized inflatable boats. The most challenging experience is when you have to hold onto the vessel while it turns upside down, making some passengers to fall into the water. Usually, a speed motor boat driven by one or two guides pulls the passenger boat in twisting directions. One round of the game lasts about 15-20 minutes.
Jetski is quite an attraction for the visitors to Lake Toba. One particular operator said it had 37 units of jetski motors to rent out every day. You can also rent one of them then bike on it while enjoying the water sport and the view of green pine trees. One hour jetski play costs about Rp 250,000 (US$ 20). If you want a half price, you can rent it for half an hour for Rp 125,000 (US$ 10). Well, that means the price is the same, isn’t it?
Swimming in the freshwater area can also be a sensation. If you like white sandy beaches, you can enjoy swimming on the Silalahi Beach, for example. If you like a waterfall, come to swim at the Situmurun Waterfall. The water flows from the hills directly onto the lake. Prefer hot or soda springs instead? Visit and swim at the Sipoholon Hot Spring Bath or the Parbubu Soda Water in North Tapanuli. Safe swimming areas are also available at most accommodations located by the lake.
You will enjoy trekking in a semi-wild area of the Gunung Leuser National Park (protected forest) in Langkat. If you are lucky, you will see wildlife such as gibbons, tigers, bears, snakes, orangutans and other animals on your way. You can also tour the forest by riding an elephant, passing through the valleys, crossing the rivers, and climbing the hills. There are many trekking routes and experiences, ranging from basic to advanced, depending on your skills and budget. Each comes with the company of specialist guides.
For nature lovers, especially mountaineers, there are many mountains around Lake Toba to climb. One of them is Mount Sibayak in Karo. It is a favorite place for climbing and is particularly busy during weekends. The height of this mountain reaches 2,094 meters from sea level. This mount is currently not open to the public due to its volcanic activity.
But the most popular climbing target on Lake Toba is Mount Pusuk Buhit, a mountain whose summit reaches 1,972 meters (6,470 ft) above sea level. It is near the Samosir Island. The climbing time is 2-4 hours, depending on the routes you take. This mountain has been so popular because it is believed to be the place of origin of Batak. You will find historical sites that explain this on your way up.
Check out Holbung Hill in Samosir regency. It is beautiful and often called the Teletubbies hill by visitors, as it has the contour of hilly land with green grass and a sloping or semi-steep landscape. The height is enough for visitors to get the full view of sunrise and sunset. It is also directly adjacent to Lake Toba, making it one of the best spots for camping.
If you are visiting Dairi, note that this location is not only famous for coffee but also home to friendly camping grounds. At Paropo, for example, you can enjoy the fresh air by the lake while camping with your friends or families.
Cycling is quite a favorite sports activity on Lake Toba. There many places to enjoy with a bike, including Berastagi, Tigaras, Tuktuk, Samosir, Tomok, Tongging, and much more. Samosir ring road, in particular, has been the target of cycling activities by professional athletes on events such as Toba Granfondo and Toba Autodax. You can rent a motorbike at a price of around Rp 200,000 – Rp 300,000 (US$ 15 – US$ 22) per day if you want to go around Samosir island or any other part of Lake Toba.
Morning is the most exciting time for running. Bring your running shoes as shopping for a new pair might be time-consuming on Lake Toba. You may tour the ring road on Samosir or the beach lines near your accommodations. You can easily find the track once you have settled.
Do you like the thrill of sliding down the forest path or along the rocky ridge on a bike? If you do, then Lake Toba is the perfect place to pamper your mountain biking hobby. The routes are ready, i.e., from Karo, such as the Mount Sibayak area, to Humbahas to North Tapanuli. This activity is perfect to nurture your love for nature.
Play golf at a challenging 9-hole par 34 walking golf course set within the valleys of tea and coffee plantations at Simalem. The most interesting holes at this course are hole 8 and hole 9. Hole 8, a Par-4 hole, offers golfers a magnificent view of Lake Toba from the tee box to the green. Hole 9, a signature Par-3 hole with the green nestled against the hillside, tends to send balls into the ravine if you don’t reach the green when you tee off. (Courtesy Taman Simalem Resort)
Your experience will certainly be different with a chance to move across water using kayaks. Unlike canoeing, kayaking requires you to sit on a low seat with your legs extended in front. But you have the paddle with blades on both sides. As the lake is calm, you can easily enjoy the natural panorama while kayaking around. The price of renting a kayak is about Rp 100,000 (US$ 7.5) per hour. Not surprisingly, Lake Toba is host to the International Toba Kayak Marathon, an annual competition.
Lake Toba is known for its freshwater fish diversity. The inhabitants range from goldfish, mujair fish, tilapia, carp, and much more. There is one type of fish called the pora-pora that is unique there, claimed as being only present in the volcanic lake water. Interestingly, many villagers still rely on fishing (not tourism) for their living. Deepwater fishing offshore Tigaras is quite popular, so is Sibandang island’s night fishing.
The beauty of Lake Toba has much to do with making paragliding at Beta Hill, Samosir Island, an exclusive experience. During sunrise and sunset, the sunlight beams create a special effect to make the lake even more beautiful. In addition to having the good scenery, Lake Toba has stable weather and wind conditions, which makes it convenient for the athletes during their maneuver in the air. The long hill rows also allow them to survive long enough above the lake.
Beginners can take part in paragliding with the companion of certified trainers. Parachutes are available for use by adults only. You must be 18 years old or older to participate.
See also Events on Lake Toba.