Introducing my new favourite place to do absolutely nothing.
Lake Toba has been part of traveller folklore for decades: the largest volcanic lake in the world, one so enormous that an island almost the size of Singapore sits in its centre. It’s hands-down the best place I have ever been to chill out, but it wasn’t always so peaceful.
The lake itself is the site of a massive supervolcanic eruption that occurred 75,000 years ago. This is actually the biggest known explosive eruption on Earth in the last 25 million years, and according to one theory, had global consequences for human populations: killing most people living at that time. Ouch. Luckily for us though, the human population still remains, as does the incredible lake that was formed in the aftermath.
I normally get itchy feet when I’m travelling and want to move on after 3 or 4 nights in one location, but this place was different. I could easily spend a month here, just doing nothing, sitting, writing. I think a large part of my love for the place was because of where I stayed and the people I met there. Mas Cottages really is the best place to stay in Lake Toba, and I look forward to the day I return. I cannot recommend this place highly enough, and it is worthy of its 94% rating on Tripadvisor.
A walk in the hills. Exploring on foot or by bicycle.
Motorbike or scooter is the way to get about when you are on Samosir island. You’ll cover more ground and have access to more remote spots. But while this is all well and good, you often are travelling too quickly to appreciate hidden alcoves and deserted lanes. I travelled both ways – by motorbike and by bicycle – and found I was more ready to jump off my bicycle at any point, dump it behind a fence and go exploring.
On one occasion I cycled out of Tuk Tuk towards Tomok and after ditching my bike by the side of the road found myself walking among cows in rolling hills in complete silence.
A ride in the hills. Exploring by motorbike.
Like I said, to access the more remote parts of Samosir and really get a feeling of the sense of scale of Lake Toba, you need to rent a motorbike. From high up this really is an epic part of the world: hill stations with local people selling hot Sumatran coffee, eagles flying overhead. It doesn’t get much better.
Lake Toba is extremely busy during New Year, be warned! I got there on 21st December and had no problem walking into a place, but one week later when I was in Bukit Lawang I heard from a waitress that virtually every guest house was full. The ferry from Parapart to Samosir is 10,000 rupiah, departing every hour from 8.30am.
The weather here is cool but pleasant, but if you’re used to hot temperatures remember to bring a jacket. Change all the money that you will need before you leave Medan as the exchange rate can be poor in the Toba area.