Best Activities in Indonesia

4. Horas, Toba!samosir-island

Lake Toba and Samosir Island were formed by the eruption of Mount Toba 74,000 years ago. Although the eruption of the volcano caused massive destruction, today we can enjoy the beauty of these natural wonders.

Located amongst seven districts, Lake Toba and Samosir Island can be reached by land from the city of Medan in about five to six hours. You can also take a train from Medan to Pematangsiantar and then go overland for approximately 60-90 minutes. Or you can fly into Silangit Airport and continue by car for about a two-hour drive to Parapat. From Parapat, the easiest and fastest way to reach Samosir is by ferry from Port Ajibata to Port Tamok in Samosir.

It only takes about 45 minutes to cross the lake to Samosir, but the ferries do not run hourly. If you want something quicker you can take a fast boat, but these boats only take people and motorcycles, so you are out of luck if you’re travelling with lots of bags. But if you want to really enjoy Lake Toba and Samosir Island, try taking a road trip around the edge of the lake. It takes up to seven hours to make the trip around the lake but the views make it worth every minute.

I made two stops before heading on to Samosir. There were Sipiso-piso waterfall and Menara Pandang Tele (Tele tower), two attractions offering epic scenery unlike anything you’ve seen before. What makes Sipiso-piso so special? It is a towering 120 metres, making it one of the tallest waterfalls in Indonesia. Imagine how fast the water comes crashing down the peak. That’s how the waterfall got the name Sipiso-piso, the water flowing over the top like a knife (piso) from the Karo.

Tele tower is a three-story building built on the side of Tele-Naidoo, the only road linking Bukit Barisan to Samosir Island. It is about an hour from Sipiso-piso. For maximum effect, head to the top of the tower to enjoy the view of Lake Toba and Samosir Island. You can also see Pusuk Buhit, a hill that is believed to be the original home of the Batak people of northern Sumatra.

If you are tracing the history of the Batak, you can start at Ambarita, an ancient Batak village on Samosir. The village was built on the orders of Raja Laga Siallagan, Huta’s first king, and has been an important hub for generations, through the descendants of King Ompu Stone Ginjang Siallagan. It is a centre of community life, dominated by a massive tree and old stone houses. There are also stone chairs and tables made by stone, which is where customary law is carried out in what is known as chair and table trials. Officials and elders act as judges and prosecutor, listening to the story and then determining the appropriate punishment.

Not far from the ferry port in Tomok, about 500 metres, is the tomb of King Sidabutar. The tomb is above ground, with a coffin made of rock. Not far from the tomb is a wooden puppet known as a Sigale-gale, a sacred object. These mystical dolls are said to have supernatural powers.

Samosir also has a beach, located in the village of Hutabolon. This area does look like a beach, but is adjacent to Lake Toba, has white sand and even gets what look like waves. There is also a water playground and restaurants.


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