Lake Toba-Berastagi-Sumatera,Where Natural Beauty is Well Preserved.
People visit North Sumatra mostly for one major destination Lake Toba or locally known Danau Toba. They'll find their traveling to the province incomplete if they don't visit this fascinating place.
All visitors will admit that the view of Lake Toba is really breathtaking but they never expect that the beauty in front of them is the result of horrible calamity which was considered as one of the biggest catastrophes the history has recorded .
The formation of Toba begun with a huge eruption known as super volcanic eruption took place around 70,000 years ago which took life of 60% of earth's human population or totally more than 65 million people. The eruption resulted a huge, 100kms x 30 kms, caldera filled with water as it's seen today and known as lake Toba. In the middle of it lies Samosir island which was formed from the emergence of dormant magma inside the earth.
The huge explosion expelled 2800 cubic kilometers volcanic materials including rocks and dust which covered area of more than 4,000,000 square km. That vast effect really made a harsh condition for human being at that time which wiped out so much population on earth. Genetics expert called it a " population bottleneck " referring to decreasing human genetic variations caused by the impact.
To go to Medan from Jakarta you can fly by some local flights from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
Lake Toba can be reached in about 4 hours by car from Medan, the main and capital city of the province.
If train is your preferable transport, you can take it from Medan which goes to Pematang Siantar, the second largest city located around 128 km away from Medan and surrounded by many many plantations . From Pematang Siantar you can continue the trip by bus to Parapat which takes for about 1 hour. Beautiful views will accompany you along your trip, like palm oil and rubber plantations and beautiful areas around Parapat city.
Besides the lake itself, Samosir island is an inseparable attraction from Toba. Samosir island is located in the middle of the lake and has some piers to facilitate visitors to do various activities like swimming, fishing, water skying, visiting Batak villages, visit hot water springs at Panguruan, or just enjoy its wonderful scenery.
Samosir island can be reached by taking crossing ferry from Parapat to Tuktuk in Samosir. If you prefer travelling by land, you can go to Samosir by car through Pangururan, a passage connecting Samosir with the main island, sumatera. Besides its wonderful views and handicrafts, Samosir also offers specific attractions with the presence of Lake Sidihoni and Lake Aek Natonang, two smaller lakes located on Samosir island so that the local people dub as Lakes above a lake .
Attractions at Toba lake and surroundings.
There are three megalithic sites on Samosir island which date back to 300 year-Batak history. Batak is another name addressing local people (Batak or Tapanulinese) and their land (Tana Batak). First site is the array of stone seats where Batak Kings used to sit attending conferences. The second site is where the Kings attended the court of criminals and enemies of the kingdom and if they found those defendants were guilty, they would be brought to the third site where there is a block of central stone for execution.
Sigale-gale puppet show.
Sigale gale puppet show can be found at Tomok, Samosir island. It is a wooden puppet which is usually performed during a traditional mourning ceremony. The Sigale gale symbolizes a son of the death and dances during burial ceremony in order to comfort the deceased person. Some strings are connected to its parts of body and a puppet master pull them to create dancing movements, including moving its head, following the music rhythms. Some puppets are also ecquipt with particular parts behind its eyeballs so that it can cry while dancing. Sigale gale will dance during the ceremony together with the other family members.
This palace was originally called Deli Sultan Palace referring to the Sultan who built it, a Deli Sultan named Makmun Al Rasyid Perkasa Alamsyah, in 1888 and designed by an Italian architect. This yellow-dominated palace has become the landmark of Medan
It's located at Asam Kumbang village, around 10 km away from Medan downtown. It's a huge crocodile farm and raise more than 2000 crocodiles of various ages, starting from egg hatchery to old ones of around 25 years of age. They farm two kinds of crocodiles :
Down-stream crocoldiles (Crocodilus porosus)
Swamp crocodiles ( Tomistoma schlegelii)
This beatiful town is located near Toba lake or around 74 km away from Medan. People's daily activities in Brastagi are mostly do farming that produces the main commodities of the town like fruits and vegetables. The fruits, the most popular ones are Brastagi oranges and Markisa (passion fruit or Passiflora edulis) , vegetables and other produces from Brastagi are marketed to Medan and other areas in Indonesia or they're sold in local markets and look dominating the market.
Two mountains near Brastagi, Sibayak (2100 m high) and Sinabung (2400 m high) also add the beauty. When we come to the town from east direction we'll be greeted by Sibayak mountain as if it invites visitors to come and climb it. Yes, it's not so hard to climb Sibayak for the precious reward to view great sunrise.
Thanks to both active volcanoes which make the lands in Brastagi so fertile and enable most of the people to make a living from farming..
When people visit Brastagi, they'll never pass up some must-visit places there.They are among others:
Lingga Village, a village at Kabanjahe sub district (located around 12 km from Brastagi) where we can find Batak traditional houses which the existence has been preserved for ages.
Gundaling hill, a hill overlooking Brastagi, Sibayak and Sinabung mountains and treat with astonishing views either at daytime or night.
Taman Hutan Raya Bukit Barisan or Great Bukit Barisan Forest Park. This national park is part of
Bukit Barisan Mountain which covers total area of 3600 km2 and was declared as Tropical Rain Forest Heritage of Sumatra. This is a very good place for exploring tropical rain forest and we're likely to have the chances to see gibbons and other primates, horn bills and other exotic birds.
Sipiso-piso, a knife-like waterfall. This waterfall is situated at the northern edge of Toba lake, around 40 minutes drive from Brastagi. Sipiso-piso waterfall is 120 m high and comes out from a river which flows under the ground.
What About Accommodation ?
People visiting Toba Lake-Brastagi don't have to worry about the availability of accommodations and means of transport there. All destinations at and around Toba are mostly reachable by public transport, motorcycle taxi, or rental cars with the tariffs ranging from some thousands to hundred thousands rupiah depends on the mode you choose.
Many foreigners choose public transports which enable them to interact with local people although comfort is not a prime consideration since the cabin has to accommodate more passengers. While others prefer rental cars for more privacy despite more expense they have to spend.
Accommodations also available in varied rates in Toba - Brastagi. Home stays, non star (they call it Jasmine-classed hotels) to four-stared hotels are available.