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Lake Toba

Lake Toba

Lake Toba, a volcanic lake which is the largest lake in Indonesia, and even Southeast Asia. Believed to be made  by a gigantic volcanic eruption some 70,000 years ago. Exotic charm mixed with the vast expanse of the lake seems to be almost like a tranquil sea with shady trees and hills, that encompass its charm. The lake, measuring 1700 square meters (1,000 sq km bigger than Singapore) with a depth of approximately 450 meters lies 906 meters above sea level, plus in the middle of the lake stands Samosir Island. The Dutch writer Rudy Kousbroek even called Toba Lake, 'the most beautiful place on earth'.



In the not so distant past this area used to be be large tourist location however in recent times it has fallen from favor which means that when we visit Lake Toba today we find great services and facilities without the mass of tourists. Making this destination a great place to relax and enjoy.

After the eruption all those many years ago, the caldera formed which was then filled with water and which is now known as Lake Toba. Pressure of the magma then emerged to form Samosir Island. While enjoying the beauty of this lake, you might not imagine that the charm of the place comes from the catastrophic volcanic eruptions that brought fear and horror at the time. 


There are seven districts around the lake, namely Simalungun, Toba Samosir, North Tapanuli, Humbang Hasundutan, Dairi, Karo, and Naidoo which have a wonderful natural panorama and tourist destination locations. Generally, tourists enjoy the beauty of Lake at Toba Parapat in Simalungun and at Tuktuk Siadong on Samosir Island. 

“The Legend of Toba Lake”

Taken from Batak Dunia



Once upon a time, lived a young orphan farmer in the northern part of the Sumatran Island. This area was very dry. The young man lived from farming and fishing. One day he went fishing, he had already fished for half of the day but still hadn't got any fish. So he returned home as the day was quickly turning into night, as he was leaving he saw a big beautiful golden fish, he caught the fish and brought it home. He intended to cook the fish right away but was overwhelmed by its beauty. He withdrew his intention of a meal and chose to keep it as pet. He placed it in a big pond and fed it. On the next day, like usual, he went to his farm, and returned at noon to have lunch. Upon arriving at his house he was very startled for the meal had already been prepared and was ready to be served. He feared that the fish might be have been stolen, and hastily he ran to the back of his house.

However, the fish was still in its pond and for a long time he was thinking, “Who cooked this meal”. As he was very hungry, he decided to eat. This incident continued to occur again repeatedly, every time he came home for lunch, the meals were prepared on the table. Then one day this young man decided to find out who had been cooking his meals. The next day he cunningly started his plan, he hid around the trees close to his house. He was waiting for a long time, but the smoke from his chimmney was still not to be seen. It was until he had almost given up hope and decided to return back to his house that he saw smoke rising out of his chimmney.

When he entered the kitchen he saw before him a woman. "Hey woman, who are you, and where have you come from?” the woman began crying, and the young man saw out of the corner of his eye that his fish was no longer in the pond. He asked the woman, “hey woman, where is the fish in that pond?” the Woman cried intensely, but this young man continued to ask and finally the woman answered, “I was the fish that was caught by you”. The young man was startled at this admission and he felt that he had hurt the feelings this woman, then he continued, “Hey woman, do you want to become my wife?” the Woman, herself startled, stayed quiet, then the young man said “Why are you so silent?” the woman replied, “I wanted to become your wife, but with one condition.” ”What is the condition?” the young man quickly asked, the woman then said, “In the future if a child is born and grows up, not once must you mention that he or she was anakni Dekke (child of a fish) ”. The young man then agreed to that condition and swore he would never say it.

Soon they were married and granted a child. When the child was 6 years old, he turned out to be very naughty. Then one day the mother told her child that she had to deliver meals to his father's field, the young boy went to deliver rice to his father. But at some point along the way the boy felt hungry, he opened the food package for his father, and ate the food. After he had finished eating, the child then wrapped it back up and continued the trip to his father's field. On arrival the child gave the food package to the father, the father was very happy, he then sat and immediately opened the food parcel that was sent by his wife to be carried by his child. But he was very startled when he opened it as there were only bones that remained. The father then asked his child “Hey my son, why are there are only bones left in this package??” And the boy answered,” during my trip I felt hungry, I ate the food.” Upon hearing this the father became very angry, he slapped his child and said, "Botul maho anakni dekke (Why! you child of a fish),". The child then ran home crying and asked his mother “Mak, Olo do na in dokkon amangi, botul do au anakni dekke? (Mother, is it true what father said, that I am a child from a fish?) ” Hearing her child's words his mother was startled. While shedding tears her heart spoke , “My husband has violated his oath, and now I must return to my place.” Suddenly the sky had become dark and was soon followed with lightning, thunder and heavy rain. The child and the mother disappeared, from their footprints emerged a spring that flowed with water as swiftly as possible. Until this area was turned into a lake, it was named as “Tuba Lake” the lake without mercy, but because of the batak tribe it was difficult to say “Tuba”, So to this day the lake is referred to as TOBA LAKE.


According to the local Citizens, the mother returned as a huge fish (the lake guardian), and until today no one has been able to measure the depth of this lake. Many tourists have tried to dive into the lake but never to return. The lake depth in the book is only an estimation not fact.

Getting there:

Get to Sumatra. The best way to do this is via Medan, Sumatra´s largest city. You can fly to Medan from Jakarta, or by international flights from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur

Car - Parapat is about 4 or 5 hours from Medan.


Bus – Starting from the airport. Walk through the car park and go out the main car exit of the airport, cross the road and turn left after the petrol station, and then turn right. There, you will get a yellow public bus, number 64, to Amplas Terminal for 3000 rupiah. From Amplas terminal, you can get a public bus to Parapat for 22,000 IDR. Total Journey - from Medan airport to Parapat for a total of 25000 IDR (October, 2010). All in all a 4 or 5 hours trip from Medan to Parapat. The journey will take you through the Lubuk Pakam, High Cliffs, and on towards Siantar.

Train - Medan central station to Siantar. The trains leave every hour or so. Then by bus to Parapat.

Must do and Must see!

The Batak Cemeteries – sounds scary but actually a nice trip – Samosir

Batak Museum with traditional dance (performances twice per day) - Samosir, Simanindo

Law and Order / Stone chairs used for judgement and executions - Samosir, Ambarita

Hot springs - Samosir, near Pangururan

Waterfall & a quick swim - Tuk tuk

Traditional Batak Dance & Folk Songs - Bagus Bay Restaurant (every Wednesday and Saturday from 8.00).

Hike over Samosir ridge - Behind Tuk Tuk start walking, fantastic views and well worth the effort.

Mushroom tea? - Magic mushrooms are legal because of local traditions. The Bataks brew a tasty tea from them.

Baked goods at Tabo Cottages – This famous guesthouse is the height of luxury in the area, and also hosts a bakery. Coffee, tea and some baked goods is a must.

Hungry? You are in luck!

Orari Restaurant, Tuk-Tuk (next to Anju), ☎ +62 625451093.

Jenny's Restaurant, (There is only one or two roads so simply ask for Jenny's.)

Tabo Cottages, Tuk-tuk, ☎ +62-625-451318 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Cotney Restaurant, (by the Samosir resort).

Maruba Restaurant, Tuk-tuk (In between Amberoba Hotel and Rodeo Accommodation).

Marco Polo, Close to the northern tip of Tuk Tuk (Walk north past most restaurants, about 15min from Carolina).