03.03.2016 – 07.03.2016
Lake Toba is a lake that has formed at the top of an old volcano, in the middle of the lake is Samosir Island. To get to Lake Toba, it’s a 4-hour bus ride from Medan (Capital of North Sumatra). If you judged Sumatra by its capital Medan you would be sadly mistaken. Medan is a crowded, dirty and unpleasant place. It’s worth the struggle to leave Medan as the rest of Sumatra is beautiful.
Our first task was to take the bus from Amplas Bus Terminal (Medan) to Parapat (the mainland side of Lake Toba). The bus terminal is just a patch of dirt, where buses stop and leave on an unscheduled basis (or until the bus is full – you could wait up to an hour). The bus ride cost 40,000IRP, the equivalent of $4AUD. This is the cost for a public bus. You ride with the locals, air-conditioning is air blowing in the windows and you even get to become a passive smoker for the day.
Once we arrived at Parapat, we caught a ferry to Samosir Island for 20,000IRP ($2AUD) that dropped us directly at our accommodation. We stayed at Mas Cottages, which is located at the end of Tuk Tuk. For $20AUD a night we got a view of the lake!
Lake Toba is surrounded by green mountainous terrain, within a pristine beautiful and calm lake. Whilst on the island you are surrounded by high terrain any way you look, it’s absolutely beautiful. We spent the next 3 nights on the island, and explored the practically untouched island.
We were lucky enough to visit the island on a weekend and see the locals market in Tomok, which is about 15mins by scooter around the bend. The market sells everything from live seafood and chickens, fruits and vegetables to homemade curry pastes and beauty products. We got a kilo of passionfruit for 15,000IRP ($1.50 AUD – AMAZING, so juicy and fresh).
The beauty of the island is that, although you’re travelling, you feel like you become a local for your stay. Tuk Tuk is the main town on the island and the best place to hire transport, eat and stay. We hired a moped directly from a lady who worked at one of the cafés. She was more than happy to give us the scooter for 2 days so we could explore the island.
We spent most of the time on our moped exploring the island. There are absolutely no tourist attractions here, just small villages and stunning views everywhere you go.
OUR FAVOURITE BITS
- Mas Cottages is a wonderful place to stay, super friendly and a little bit away from the centre of town. Super relaxing.
- The stunning views as you take the ferry from Parapat to Samosir Island and as you ride around the island.
- Food from Bamboo Café.
- Lifestyle and serenity of the island.
- Definitely spend the 100,000IRP a day to hire a moped, you get to experience so much more of the island
- Take the local bus. It’s cheap and a little daunting at first, but hiring a driver or taking a ‘minibus’ take just as long (if not longer) can be much less comfortable! (and about 10 times the price!)
- If you have a late flight into Medan stay in the city and catch a taxi to Amplas Terminal the following morning (try and get there for 9am-10am). If you arrive in the morning to Medan, take the taxi straight to the bus terminal and get on your way!
- Don’t waste any time in Medan.
- Having plenty of money with you. ATM’s are scarce and rarely work and hotels will charge a minimum of 10% to get cash out.
We loved our stay at Lake Toba and give it 5 stars, our favourite place so far.
See you in Bukit Lawang!