SUMATERA TRAVEL AGENT
NORTH SUMATERA EXPERIENCE – TOUR AND TRAVEL
Home to a diverse array of cultures and a fascinating kaleidescope of Indonesian life, the region of North Sumatra has many wonders to explore. North Sumatra’s specacular natural beauty spreads from the magnificent Lake Toba, the biggest lake in Southeast Asia, to the jungle of Bukit Lawang which organgutans make their home. The natural and cultural wonders here make this is a region to come and have a true adventure.
The landscape here has been shaped by thousands of years of volcanic activity. From the incredible Lake Toba which was formed around 75,000 years ago in one of the most fierce volcanic eruptions ever known to the still smouldering Mt Sibayak, volcanoes dominate the landscape everywhere.
North Sumatra is home to rare and exotic wildlife. Discover exceptional and unique species like the orangutans, the white-handed gibbon, and 17 types of bird. For nature lovers, the extraordinary ecosystems which exist here are well worth a visit.
The largest city in this region, Medan, is a thriving metropolis, and one of the biggest cities in Indonesia. The population of the city is diverse, representing virtually every ethnicity in Indonesia. As one of the most important economic hubs in the country, Medan is also a place to do business with a number of oil and plantation export companies operating here and in the surrounding region.Whether you’re after a jungle adventure, a relaxing holiday in pristine natural surrounds or an authentic experience of native Batak culture, this is a region which has it all.
Medan is the fourth largest city in Indonesia after Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung. With a population of about 2 million people it is the largest city outside of Java. There is no single ethnic group forming a majority; the largest ethnic groups are the Chinese, Javanese, Toba-Batak, Minangkabau, Mandailing Batak, Karo Batak, Southern Indians, and Northern Indians, and there are many more ethnic minorities.
Each ethnic group contributes to thousands of tasty, mouth-watering dishes found in every corner of Medan. They offer to locals and tourists alike dozens of food streets and hawker centres to suit their appetite at any time of the day. From the sweet Javanese cuisine, to delicious Batak grilled pork, to hot Padang dishes, from savoury Chinese noodles, to spicy Indian curry, this varied cuisine is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is obvious why the locals are so into food. The city itself is quite well known for “food-tourism”, especially amongst other Indonesians.
Berastagi (meaning “rice store”) is a town and subdistrict of Karo Regency situated on crossroads on the main route linking the Karo highlands of Northern Sumatra to the coastal city of Medan. Berastagi town is 70 kilometers south of Medan and about 1,300 meters above sea level. The village rose to significance when Dutch settlers in Sumatra opened a boarding school there in the 1920s.
The main economic activities in Berastagi, centre on the colourful fruit and vegetable market and on tourism. Berastagi is famous for its passion fruit. The main attractions of the town are the two active volcanoes; Mount Sibayak, with its hot springs, and Mount Sinabung. Each mounts can be climbed in one day trip, but guide is needed
Lake Toba is one of the awesome natural wonders of the world. This is a crater lake so enormous it has an island almost the size of Singapore in its centre. At over 1,145 square kilometers, and a depth of 450 meters, Lake Toba is actually more like an ocean. This is the largest lake in Southeast Asia and one of the deepest lakes in the world. Toba is a place to come and sit back, relax and absorb some beautiful pristine scenery. As you sit and take in the view of the picturesque mountains set against the cool clear lake, you will feel the worries of the world melt away.
As the lake sits 900 meters above sea level there is a cooler climate here making a refreshing break from the heat, humidity and pollution of the city. Its hard to imagine a more scenic place to come and enjoy hiking, swimming and sailing although once you arrive it might be difficult to resist the anesthetizing effects of the lake. The cool clear water coupled with the relaxed atmosphere and friendly people is what draws visitors from all over the world to Toba.
SAMOSIR ISLAND, situated in the huge crater lake of Toba, measures 45 km. by 20 km. The island, together with its surrounding areas is the heart of the Toba Batak culture. A visit to Lake Toba is not complete without a stay on Samosir with its many traditional villages along its shoreline. Lake Toba is around 5 hours’ drive from North Sumatra’s capital city, Medan.
On the east side of the island, the land rises steeply from a narrow strip of flat land along the lake’s water edge climbing to a central plateau that towers some 780 m. above the waters. Cycling up to the plateau passing many traditional villages is a pleasant experience, as from this height one can have a wonderful panoramic view on this magnificent blue lake.
Regular ferries ply between Parapat on the mainland and the villages of Tomok and Tuktuk on Samosir. As you step down the ferry at Tomok you will be greeted by a row of sounvenir stalls selling an array of Batak handicraft, from the traditional hand-woven ulos cloths to Batak bamboo calendars and all kinds of knick-knacks.
Tomok itself is a traditional village, best known as the gateway and introduction to Samosir. Here is the large stone sarcophagus of chief Sidabutar. Carved from a single block of stone, the tomb dates back to the early 19th century. The front is carved with the face of a singa – a mythical creature, part water buffalo, part elephant. On the saddle-shaped lid is a small statue of a woman carrying a bowl, believed to represent the wife of the dead chief.
Beautifully painted traditional adat houses stand in a neat row, with their backs to the lake, complemented with rice barns facing the houses. The elaborate Batak designs on these houses form leaves and flowers and are typically colored in black, white and red.