Lake Toba / Danau Toba

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Berastagi, or Brastagi, is a must-see if you have to stay in Medan for any length of time.
This area of Indonesia used to be run by the warring cannibal tribes of the native Toba Batak clan. If you've ever heard of Ulos, this is where it comes from. Since conversion to Christianity, Islam and other religions, several hundred years ago, and colonisation by the Dutch, the Batak tribes have spread throughout Indonesia, spreading their creativity and love to everyone they meet. 

Lake Toba is, of course, named after the tribes that still live there. It was formed from what is believed to be the massive remnants of an extinct volcano that exploded in the area several thousand years previous. 

The lake is the largest in South East Asia and is quite picturesque.

There is only one path from one side of the lake to the other and that is via a tiny village on the shores. Unfortunately you cannot drive through due to many market stalls blocking the roads most times of the day. So, unless you're hiking, it's best to stay on the Medan side!

The lake is about 100km from Medan and is worth the trip. You can swim in it and the water is usually crystal clear. A common game is for children to throw copper coins into the water and swimmers to dive for them.

The best part of Lake Toba isn't the size or the swimming, it's the waterfall - Air Terjun Sipiso-Piso. Hundreds of metres of crashing water that can be viewed from kilometres away.

There is a look out not far from the falls that is worth stopping at, though the structure could probably give way at the slightest quake.

Travellers comment:

We had lunch with some friends at the lookout and the wooden viewing area was perched precariously on the side of an outcrop. Not being able to see how it was supported (I suspected a cantilever approach) I explored the nearby deserted white 3 story building, covered in graffiti. A great view is to be had if you climb to the top.

I was told that there is a walking path to the waterfall but that it is easy to get lost. But there is a dog that guides you. All you need to do is whistle and, in return for some food, the dog will take you there. We didn't see the dog so I suspect that it was a legend.

We later drove down to the lake. I'm not into swimming but the others enjoyed it. I was more looking forward to the hot spring pools that we would see later on the trip.

Read Neil's Danau Toba diary entry

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