Selamat Natal in Lake Toba

This Christmas, we dashed off to Lake Toba. Actually, ‘dashed off’ is misleading – it was a long drawn journey, flying to Medan, then 6-hour drive to Parapat, a ferry to Tomok and an ojek ride to our hotel. Further complicated by the ferry deadline of 6 pm, and we were stuck in traffic at 5.30, so we decided to walk, suitcases, backpacks and all. Then it rained, and poured. Got back in the car. Missed that last ferry which would have taken us directly to the hotel. Hence the last last ferry to Tomok, and ojek. The journey couldn’t have got crazier! We hoped that Lake Toba would be worth it.

The lake is supposedly the largest volcanic in the world, covering an area larger than Singapore, but probably at the opposite end of the spectrum of Singapore in terms of development. Which is a great thing, really. Unspoilt (yet) is the first word that comes to mind. Opting for a scooter instead of our usual bicycles, we explored the island of Tuktuk, which is a peninsula off the larger Samosir island. The tourist facilities are concentrated here, and the charm is all about the great weather (wet), greenery, bright exotic flowers, and the laid-back, friendly Batak population. There’s fishing, swimming in the lake, relaxing with a book (available on rent from one of the bookstores), cycling/walking/boating on offer, and anywhere you turn, you can be sure of a picturesque lake view.

We explored further on to Samosir island, where the Bataks live. It was pretty festive too, with most of the locals being Christians, and celebrating Christmas on the weekend. There seemed to be as many churches as rice fields, and we didn’t tire of driving past all of them and running out of words to describe the landscape – lush, verdant, green, refreshing!

Another day saw us hiring a speedboat to go out in search of a waterfall. We found it, and spent a significant part of the morning relaxing in its spray.

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The only reason we were glad to leave the place was the hotel. It’s been years since we ‘roughed it out’ in a bad room with a creaky bed and stinky loo. We discovered so many home stays/resorts on Tuk Tuk island that could’ve been better than Samosir Cottages, so the next time we visit, we will be better informed. And yes, there will be a next time!

Categories: Island-hopping in Indonesia, TravelTags: , , , , , ,


  1. I enjoyed this post. In 2006, I was based in Banda Aceh which is just a short flight from Medan. Always wanted to visit Lake Toba but never got it scheduled. Thanks for this post, I got a better glimpse of the place.


  2. nice pics aarts!


  3. Love your blogs.


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