LAKE TOBA, NORTH SUMARTA
Toba lies in the northern part of Barisan Mountain Range, which is volcanic and
traverses Sumatra Island from northwest to southeast as its backbone. The laketrough
is surrounded by precipitous cliffs 400-1,200 m high. Based on the topographic
feature and the wide distribution of volcanic ejecta around the lake, some geologists
and valcanologists have considered it to be a giant caldera or cauldron. The water
surface of L. Toba is 905 m above sea level and about 1,100 km2 wide. The total
area of the lake, including the areas of Samosir and Paradapur Islands, amounts
to 1,780 km2. The mountains around the lake are called Batak Highlands. The only
draining river from L. Toba, the Asahan, flows southeastwards dissecting the gentle
slopes of the pyroclastic plateau.
Lake Toba is one of Sumatra's
spectacular sights - a remarkable volcanic crater set in the middle of northern
Sumatra, 176km from Medan. The lake is huge (the largest in South-East Asia),
occupying the caldera of a giant volcano that collapsed on itself after a massive
eruption 100,000 years ago. In comparison, Krakatau's 1883 effort was little more
than a belch. The lake is surrounded by steep mountains, ridges and sandy, pine-sheltered
A busy, congested lakeside resort
mostly spoiled by tourism. It has a cool, dry climate, pine-covered beaches, and
spectacular views. Prapat is the main town on Lake Toba and the principal embarkation
point for ferries to Samosir. Balige is an attractive market town on Toba's southeast
shore, 60 km south of Prapat.
original home of the Toba Batak, Samosir Island (630 square-km) offers a cool,
sunny climate, superb hiking and swimming, royal tombs, dramatic Batak architecture,
stonecarvings, and very reasonable accomodation and food. Samosir, the wedge-shaped
island in the middle of the lake, is thought to have been created by subsequent
upheavals between 30,000 and 75,000 years ago. Samosir has long been northern
Sumatra's premier attraction for travellers and has an abundant supply of accommodation
and eateries ringing the shoreline. The main town in the area is Parapat, on the
eastern shore of Lake Toba.
hill town in the Karo Highlands, 70km from Medan, is dominated by two volcanoes:
Gunung Sinabung and Gunung Sibayak. At 1300m (4260ft) above sea level, the climate
is pleasantly cool and the atmosphere refreshingly relaxed. Travellers come to
Berastagi to experience the culture of the Karo Batak people and to go trekking.
There are guided treks into the Gunung Leuser National Park and to surrounding
volcanoes and attractions.
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