We booked a shared taxi with Rainforest Guesthouse from Bukit Lawang to Samosir Island in Lake Toba for 230,000RP (£15) each for taxi and the boat. Glad we didn’t get the public bus again, then have to transfer in Medan as I had a horrible cold from the jungle and wasn’t feeling well (obviously thought it was Dengue or Malaria again, but thankfully it wasn’t). The 9 ½ hr taxi journey was pretty hair raising as the driver was overtaking on blind corners, driving so fast down really bumpy roads and spent most of the time on the phone too.
We picked up other passengers from Berastagi (volcanoes to climb there) and headed to the boat. Also saw the aftermath of a crash on the road also where the truck driver lost his life, it was awful. Boat journey over was nice and smooth, after the tour operator tried to scam us all out of more money but thankfully no one was budging on it so they took us across.
What we did:
Spent the first day resting, eating, and just chilling out on the deck reading and enjoying the tranquility of the lake. The views here are absolutely stunning. Second day, we hired a moped from the guest house for 100,000RP (£6) for the whole day, including a full tank of petrol. We drove the coast from East to North, enjoying the views and looking at the local ‘Batak’ tribes boat houses. There are a couple of theories as to why they are shaped like a boat, but one is that they were built like the boats the local people came to the island on. Apparently, the higher the front of the building, the more money the sons will have. Also the number of steps up to the house always equals the number of children the family have.
We drove to the ‘beach’ with grey volcanic sand, then headed onto the mainland over a bridge to visit the hot springs. There are many houses who have dug their own swimming pools and you can use them for free as long as you eat lunch at their restaurant. The one we picked had separate male and female pools, and a ‘tourist pool’ for both. It was very clean and big and the water was lovely to soak in. After our spa and lunch, we drove around a huge volcano and saw some incredible views of rice fields in plains surrounded by gigantic flat top cliffs with 200m high waterfalls in the distance.
On the way back, we saw there was a ‘road’ across the middle of the island that we thought we’d try. It started off as lovely easy tarmac which then got more and more potholes, became a dirt track with big rocks to dodge to then becoming pretty much a seriously muddy moto-cross track! It was definitely a challenge on our little moped, sliding around and getting stuck on top of huge rocks, but we made it across and really enjoyed it.
Raggae Guest House was an amazing place to stay. Only 200,000 RP (£12) a night for a double room en-suite only about 3m distance from the lake with the most incredible views. Room also had a bathroom and a big breakfast was included. The food was also really delicious and the local family who own/run it and really helpful and nice.