Lake Toba – the biggest crater lake in the world

We arrived at about 5 pm in Parapat close to the ferry port and had to wait there for almost one hour for the next ferry.

I quickly walked over the market in search for a fresh coconut (unfortunately in fain) while Steffi and Daniel (a German couple who were in the bus with me) had an eye on my luggage. I also booked the shuttle bus to Medan for Sunday already. We ate some fruit and had some tea until it was time to board the ferry. The ferry was 15000 Rp to TukTuk and 20K Rp to Mas Cottage where I had booked a room after Roni recommended it to me. It took almost one hour to get there. Lake Toba is the biggest Crater Lake in the world. It is 87 km long and 27 km wide with a maximum depth of 505 meters. The area of the lake is 1776 km² and thus more than 3 times the area of the Lake of Constance (536 km²). The lake was created through the eruption of the super volcano Toba about 74000 years ago. The island Samosir with the town of Tuk Tuk on it lies 904 m above sea level. Since the sun was setting while we were on the boat it got quite fresh with the wind and all. When I finally arrived at the Mas Cottage around 7 pm. Then came the not so nice surprise: they had forgotten my reservation and all the rooms in the price category I wanted (the cheapest) were fully booked. Had a long discussion with them since it is also not too easy in the dark from there to find something else, it is quite a bit outside TukTuk plus if you make a reservation and they fuck it up, they should find a solution. In the end, after waiting and discussing for quite a while they put me in a twin room instead of a double room, not with a balcony and very nice few, but with a terrace. The room was not as nice as the one I had reserved, but was still quite luxurious for my standards. Only the bathroom was not so nice, with millions of ants in it. I went up to the restaurant for dinner and ordered a Gado Gado. Was the worst Gado Gado I had ever eaten, looked and tasted pretty disgusting and was expensive also. I used the WiFi for a bit (only worked at the restaurant, not in or in front of the room), did a bit of blogging and reading and went to bed. The next morning I wanted to take a shower. When I turned on the water, I was showered in ants and ant parts. They were obviously living inside the shower head. Not too much water came out, just ants. Pretty disgusting! It took me quite a while to get rid of most of the ants inside and around the shower head and on me so I could finally take a shower. For 200K Rp a night I would expect a cleaner bath room. When I went up for breakfast, it was very “cozy” there since the place was basically a building site and the noise of it made it very enjoyable to sit on the terrace with the great view. IMAG2396 (FILEminimizer)I tried to get a price reduction for the room, but they wouldn´t do it. Their argument being “It is already the cheapest room we have”. As if that would have anything to do with the ant shower, construction noise, power outs due to the construction, not getting the room I reserved and so on. I was a bit frustrated about the whole situation for a bit, but then decided to just make the best of it, spoil myself for a few days and enjoy. They went to my room and sprayed the bathroom trying to get rid of the ants at least. It was better after that and I had learned not to stand directly under the shower, but always let the ants out first anyway. I had arranged with Steffi and Daniel that we would rent scooters that day and explore the island together. Got a bit worried in the morning when they still hadn´t contacted me after the time they said they wanted to leave at the latest, but in the end they had just overslept and we started about 2 hours later. I got a scooter at Mas Cottage and they rented one at their place in Tuk Tuk. Mine was a bit more expensive, but included petrol, a helmet and review mirror. They didn´t have any of these. Since we wanted to head west anyway they would pass my place, so we met in front of my accommodation. I was a bit scared to drive at first since I haven´t been driving a scooter for almost 10 years and only once before. I usually just sit in the back. But after a few minutes and apart from 2 or 3 hairy situations over the whole day it went very well and I got more and more secure and started to enjoy it. We drove over Ambarita an Simanido all the way up to the hot springs. We stopped at some nice look out

and also several times for pictures.

On the way we had lunch in a warung on the side of the street. They couldn´t speak English so we made animal sounds to find out what kind of meat they have. We settled for some really yummy local pork dish. IMAG2407We also stopped at a nice beach and drank coconuts.

At the hotsprings we discovered that they are basically building sites and didn´t look very inviting plus it was way too hot for hot springs anyway. So we just drank something there and headed back. It was anyway time since we didn´t want to drive in the dark. In total we covered about 90 km that day and just returned the moment the sun set.

I had another infection on my foot and during the day my ankle had swollen up like crazy, I could hardly move my foot anymore or walk. Back to my room I washed out the wound with soap, put iodine on it and a band aid and decided to stay at Mas Cottage unlike my plans to eat somewhere else. I asked for some ice to put on my foot and rested it high. I joined Tiar and JM on their table (a girl from Jakarta and a guy from Singapore). We had a nice chat and decided to go out the next night together. When they went to bed I worked on my blog for a bit and went to bed too. The next morning my foot was a lot better. But I anyway wanted a rest day and so I took it easy and kept my foot up as much as possible. I was reading next to the lake, taking a nap in the afternoon , wrote my diary,…

I didn´t dare to swim with the open wound on my foot, but it was nice anyway. At about 4:30 pm I started to walk to TukTuk taking some pictures.

At the Orari Restaurant I had some nice Chicken Rendang.IMAG2413 (FILEminimizer) Tiar and JM were already back from their bike tour and I waited for them at the restaurant. Then we walked further into town together. We passed a wedding and stayed there for a bit. JM got some dinner while Tiar and I had a drink and later we went to Roy´s Pub where a pretty good live band was playing.

About 10:30 pm we walked back together. Just this little walking had made my ankle swell up again and it was super hot. It was definitely time for bed. The next day it was time to head back to Medan. They told me the ferry wouldn´t stop at Mas Cottage just for one passenger. I would either need to pay for two or they could drop me at the harbor in Tuk Tuk for 20K and I could take the boat from there. It was an interesting ride 2 people with my entire luggage on a scooter, but we arrived safely. We had to stop at an ATM on the way since after paying the hotel bill I only had 4000 Rp left, but I needed to pay the scooter and the ferry. There is only one ATM on the island and luckily it worked. I only had to wait for like 15 minutes for the next ferry to arrive. When I arrived in Parapat at 12:30 all the passengers for the bus to Medan where already there. So we took off about 1h20 earlier than expected. I was again the only foreigner on the bus. It was good that we took off earlier since the driver stopped very often to run some errands and there was quite some traffic.

So it was already 6:30 pm when I finally was dropped off at the Kuala Namu Guesthouse in Medan. I was super hungry, tired and my back ached from being squeezed into the same position for hours. The staff is really friendly and I got a tea as a welcome drink. I had the dorm to myself. I went outside to have dinner at some warung. Got some really nice Nasi Goreng. The daughter of the owner – Ziri – came to me and wanted to practice her English. So I ended up sitting there for quite long talking to her and her mom and teaching them a little. Of course the obligatory pictures had to be too and she also wanted to add me on FB. Later I found the picture of the two of us with a short description of me including age and all on her FB and already 80 people had liked it. I joined the guys who worked in the hostel a bit while they were playing the guitar before I went to bed. The next morning I had a shower with the water scoop since there was almost no water coming out of the shower and then enjoyed a yummy included breakfast. I checked out and one of the guys accompanied me to the main street where he wanted to stop a bus for me to the airport. In the end it was a taxi, but I told him that I wouldn´t pay more than for the bus. So I ended up paying only 20K Rp with a Taxi to myself to the airport. It was quite close, that´s why I had chosen this place, but usually it´s anyway a lot more. He didn´t even ask for the usual 5000 Rp for parking. Great deal and nice driver! I got through security without any problems. The Garuda Indonesia flight left punctual and I had 3 seats to myself. We got food and I watched the movie “Gifted”. I had to change planes in Jakarta again, my luggage was checked through though and everything went smoothly.

I was kind of sad to leave Sumatra because I really loved it there. The landscape is just beautiful; the people are so nice, it´s still pretty pristine and not very touristy and I had an absolutely great time. But I was also looking forward to discover other areas of Indonesia. A big thank you to each and every one who made Sumatra special for me, especially again all the great people in Bukittinggi! I hope Sumatra will stay like this and won´t be transformed into a second Bali one day!


  1. Bring nostalgic moments back when I was in high school. Thanks for sharing. It remains beautiful , the province call Tapanuli or Tapian na uli means a beautiful shore.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s