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10 New Bali's - Lake Toba

As I have discussed Jokowi’s 10 new Bali’s initiative, I thought it would be interesting to provide further details and snapshot about some of those promising destinations. While you could explore more about Lombok Mandalika, I would expose about Lake Toba, the largest lake in Indonesia with ample opportunity for the continued expansion of its shores.

Source: Indonesia Tatler Lake Toba Lake Toba is a volcanic lake, located in North Sumatra, known for the beauty of its nature. This volcanic lake is the largest in the world, with 100 kilometres long, 30 kilometres wide, and located 904 metres above the sea level with depth reaches 505 metres. It was formed about 74,000 years ago by a colossal volcanic eruption: the caldera that was created eventually buckled under the pressure and collapsed in on itself, the high-sided basin that remained filling with water to form the lake. A second, smaller volcanic eruption, 50,000 years later, created an island the size of Singapore in the middle of the lake. This island, called Samosir Island, is the cultural and spiritual heartland of the Toba Batak people and one of the most fascinating, pleasant and laidback spots in Indonesia. Samosir Island has a magical quality and seems far removed from the usual 'chaos' of Indonesia. Its laidback vibe contributes to it being extremely easy to get around whether by car or bike. The villages of Tomok and Tuk Tuk can be visited as the ideal places to sample local food, shop in the markets and learn a little about the island’s Batak culture. For example, in Ambarita Village in the Simanindo District on Samosir Island lies Huta Siallagan - an ancient village which strongly radiates the unique culture of the Batak ethnic group. 'Huta' means village so the name translates as the village of Siallagan. It’s a small stone-walled compound covering an area of 2,400 sqm and was built during the reign of the first Huta leader, King Laga Siallagan. Interestingly, a number of descendants of King Siallagan still reside in Ambarita Village and the tombs of their ancestors can still be found in the area.

The ancient stone chairs and table of King Siallagan where villagers met to discuss local affairs of state (Source: Asia Explorers). Beyond Samosir Island, Lake Toba’s attractions are myriad. There are numerous spectacular hiking trails and even an opportunity to be amused by beautiful scenery and fascinating sightseeing at Sipiso-Piso Waterfall. It is one of the tallest waterfalls in Indonesia, located in Tonggiang village, 45 Kilometers from Berastagi, at the northern end of Lake Toba. This waterfall is formed by a small underground river of the Karo Plateau and flows out into the Lake Toba caldera.

Source: North Abroad Future Opportunities The government would make Lake Toba an international tourism destination that would be regarded as the new Bali of Indonesia. It is estimated that Toba Lake and its surrounding areas in North Sumatra require Rp 21 Trillion (US$1.55 Billion) to equip the area with infrastructure and hospitality facilities, such as resorts, hotels and restaurants, to transform the area into a major tourist destination. In fact, through various ministries, the government has invested Rp 10 Trillion, while the remaining Rp 11 Trillion is expected to come from private companies. In addition, the local government also has offered opportunities to invest in cattle husbandry and thread manufacturing to reduce the province’s reliance on meat and thread imports. These investments would enable the government to meet local demand and address the needs of the province’s weaving industry, which produce traditional woven fabrics such as 'ulos' and 'songket'. With a certification secured from Unesco Global Geopark, the government has targeted Lake Toba to be an international tourism destination. It is also prioritised as one of the five super-priority destinations to make the tourism industry as one of the drivers of the country’s economic growth. The development in Lake Toba is to focus on the improvement of connectivity, water resource facilities, human resource development and traditional houses in an effort to make the area a popular destination. Preserving local culture and waste management should be priorities as Lake Toba seeks to become a top tourist destination. While infrastructure and internet network has been developed by the government, several docks and new airport (Sibisa airport) near Lake Toba are planned to be ready by 2021. Indonesia’s tourism industry has been hit badly by the COVID-19 pandemic as people around the world have isolated themselves at home and governments have closed their borders and issued travel warnings. As the President believes that the sluggishness of the tourism sector will only last until the end of the year, the government has kept an optimism to take advantage of the rising momentum as soon as the downturn ends. Central and local government will start working in July and will split the work between the related ministries and government institutions as well as Batak (North Sumatran ethnic group) culture experts to make the project more integrated.

If you want to be pleased by historical sights, great food, nightlife, and access to scenic lookouts, do visit North Sumatra and the famous Lake Toba in Indonesia.

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