Lake Toba © Batubara Ismail Rahmat
The holiday paradise of Lake Toba sparkles like a precious stone, embedded in the northern highlands of Sumatra and surrounded by steep and fertile mountains. Filling in a giant volcanic crater, it is the largest lake in South East Asia, with depths of up to 1,680 feet (525m) in places. In the middle of Lake Toba sits the jade-green island of Samosir, which is thought to be the origin of the friendly Batak people. Evidence of their culture and traditions is visible in the little Batak villages with their characteristic curved roofs, the traditional dance performances at Simanindo's Batak Cultural Centre, and the distinctive woodcarvings and weavings sold around the island. Apart from this cultural wealth, there are also a few hot springs near Pangururan, which attract visitors.
Numerous holiday resorts and villages are scattered around Lake Toba's Samosir; the Tuk Tuk peninsula and village of Ambarita being the most popular places for tourists to linger. The area was very fashionable for holidaymakers a few years ago, but now is fairly quiet. Despite the amount of guesthouses and restaurants on Samosir, there is little other tourist infrastructure, but the variety of activities and the cultural experience makes this one of Sumatra's most fascinating and relaxing holiday destinations.