Lake Toba and Lake Maninjau

Lake Toba ©haddock/flickr

Lake Toba ©haddock/flickr

A 100 kilometres long lake as well as a supervolcano, Lake Toba is a volcano with a tremendous ejecta volume of more than one thousand cubic kilometers. When magma in the Earth rises into the crust from a hotspot but is unable to break through the crust.

With 505 metres at its deepest point, it has a surface elevation of nearly 900 metres, making it the largest lake in Indonesia worth seeing. The second reason that you must see it is that, Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake in the world.

Lake Maninjau

caldera lake in the western Sumatra, west of Bukittinggi was formed some 52,000 years ago when a volcano erupted. Like a cauldron and thus its name, Lake Maninjau is the collapse of land following an eruption. They are not craters and the caldera has a length of 20 kilometers. With a lake area of 99.5 square kilometers, Lake Maninjau’s average depth is 105 meters. The maximum is 165 meters deep. The amazing natural outlet is the Antokan river. Other than its beauty for it is very scenic, lots of people like it because of its mild climate. Sporty people even use the place forparagliding activities.

Bataks and their houses

Batak Houses ©IngoSurya flickr

Batak Houses ©IngoSurya flickr

What’s interesting in Lake Toba is about its people. They are ethnically Bataks. You can see those traditional Batak houses from a distance, by its distinctive roofs which curves upwards at each end, exactly like how a boat’s hull is. The colors of Batak houses are also easily recognisable. Toba people are prideful and assert their identity as ‘Batak’. Much to do with their Batak cultures, their rich and complex burial traditions and pre-colonial religious ideas. There are also some interesting sights such as the monumental sculptures carved from large trees, the Batak Totem pole.


Pensi is a small mussel species while Palai rinuak is a small fish that is exported out. They are best grill with coconut and spices, then wrapped in a banana leaf. Lake Maninjau is used mainly for aquaculture using karamba floating net cages. It is the farming of aquatic organisms from fish, molluscs, crustaceans like crabs, crayfish, krill, lobsters, shrimp and barnacles. And also the aquafarming of some aquatic plants.

Getting There

You can get there by a bus from Bukittinggi. Travel past those scenic terraced rice fields, grab a great view of the Lake as you pass down the 44 hairpin turns.

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