Lake Toba, or Danau Toba in Indonesian, is the largest year-round lake in Southeast Asia. It is located on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Although it is smaller in size than the Tonle Sap of Cambodia, unlike the Tonle Sap, Lake Toba is pretty consistent in its size. Also, being a volcanic lake, Lake Toba is much, much deeper than Tonle Sap. Hence, it holds much more water than Tonle Sap, 240 km3 vs about for Tonle Sap.
Lake Toba is approximately 90 km long and 900 m above sea level. The catchment area for Lake Toba includes peaks over 2000 m high. Being in the highlands, Lake Toba enjoys a cool temperature that averages 20ºC.
Lake Toba is said to have been created by the massive Toba eruption that happened about 71500 years ago. It is said to be the largest volcanic eruption to have occured in the last two million years. It threw up 2800 cubic km of volcanic material (a volume equal to over ten times all the water within Lake Toba today). In comparison, the 1980 eruption of Mount St Helen emitted just 1 cubic km of material. More recent movement of the magma chamber pushed Samosir Island and Uluan Peninsula above the surface of the lake. This is due to the upward pressure exerted by the unerupted magma.
Just like at Tonle Sap, a whole civilisation developed on the shores of Lake Toba in the form of the Toba Batak people who inhabits the lake and Samosir Island.
Prapat is a major town on the east shore of Lake Toba. It is located on a peninsula that juts into the lake. On Samosir Island, major villages include Tuk Tuk, Tomok, Simanindo and Ambarita. A scenic mountain road skirts Lake Toba on its eastern shore affording scenic views of the lake. One of the best viewpoints of the lake is located just out of the village of Tongging, close to the Sipisopiso Waterfall.
Getting to Lake Toba
There are ferry boats from Prapat that will take you to Tomok on Samosir Island. In addition, many of the guesthouses on Samosir Island has direct ferry connection. You may also hire a boat from Prapat to take you to anywhere on Samosir Island, or simply for a joy ride on Lake Toba.
Scenic view of Lake Toba, with Samosir Island on the top left. (28 April, 2006)
Vegetation on the rim surrounding Lake Toba. (28 April, 2006)
Panoramic view of Lake Toba on a clear day. (28 April, 2006)
The rim surrounding Lake Toba, as seen from the lake itself. (28 April, 2006)
Ferry boat crossing Lake Toba from Prapat towards Samosir Island. (28 April, 2006)
A young man rowing a perahu on Lake Toba. (30 April, 2006)
Naked children swimming in Lake Toba. (30 April, 2006)
Lake Toba as seen from a ferry boat. (30 April, 2006)
One of the boatmen operating the ferry boat on Lake Toba. (30 April, 2006)
Ferry boat arriving at Samosir Island. (30 April, 2006)
Timothy Tye sitting at the top deck of the ferry boat in Lake Toba. (30 April, 2006)
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