Indonesia • Sumatra • Lake Toba, homeland of the Bataks

Experience the allure of Indonesia's majestic volcanic landscapes in under 14 minutes. Our video tour will transport you to the heart of Batak land, revealing the culturally-rich Dokan village nestled amidst verdant tropical wilderness. Witness Lake Toba, the world's largest volcanic lake, cradling the serene island of Samosir within its expansive waters. This video encapsulates a journey through time, from the age-old eruptions that shaped the landscape, to the vibrant local traditions that continue to echo across the region. So, don't just learn about the history and culture of this captivating corner of Indonesia – see it, feel it, and understand it from the inside out. Begin your journey here.

This film was made on the basis of photos and videos taken during the trip Indonesia • Sumatra, Java and Bali (EN)

vimeo chapterA click on this icon above displays the list of chapters of this film about Sumatra in Indonesia. A click on a dot goes directly to a chapter.

Reading the text below will help you better understand the cultural context of the images in this video.

01:05 • Sinabung volcano

01:26 • Batak country

01:46 • Berastagi fruit market

02:44 • the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi in Berastagi

03:34 • Dokan, Batak village

06:08 • Waterfall. Air Terjun Sipiso Piso

06:56 • Toba lake

07:28 • King Sidabutar's tomb in Tomok

08:31 • Simanindo 

09:29 • Batak dance


Lake Toba

Lake Toba in the north of the island of Sumatra in Indonesia is the largest volcanic lake in the world. Indonesia is in one of the most active earthquake zones in the world and has been shaped over millennia by volcanic activity.

Lake Toba, with the island of Samosir in its center, occupies an ancient caldera of a supervolcano.

The last eruption of this supervolcano is estimated to be 74,000 years old and was the most powerful of the four known eruptions. The first of these eruptions occurred 1.2 million years ago, followed by a second 840,000 years ago, and the third was 500,000 years old.

There are few supervolcanoes on the planet, and that's good. Because supervolcanoes experience supereruptions with catastrophic consequences. Thousands of cubic kilometers of lava and ash emerge from the center of the earth and cause significant climate change. Sulfur clouds can hide the sun for years, rains of sulfuric acid contribute to the extinction of all life on entire continents.

Fortunately, for 74,000 years, the volcano that gave birth to Lake Toba has been calm. In its crater, Lake Toba musures more than 100 km long and 30 km wide and its maximum measured depth exceeds 500 meters.

The lush vegetation that surrounds the lake has long made people forget the trauma of this last supereruption. Life has resumed all its rights there, and the fertility of the land has attracted men to the shores of the lake.

The Toba Bataks

This population, which lives around Lake Toba, gave it its name in. The Bataks have one of the richest cultures in Indonesia. This people knew how to preserve a large part of its traditions and its artists are musicians, sculptors, architects or weavers. Their houses with thatched roofs are very typical, even if the economic conditions push them more and more to replace thatch by sheet metal, much less aesthetic but more affordable financially.

If the island of Sumatra is predominantly Muslim, the Bataks have retained their Protestant Christian religion instilled in them by the Dutch missionaries, sometimes by force.

The Bataks have also preserved their musical tradition and traditional dances.


In this film, we visited a fruit market in Berastagi, on the road from Medan to Lake Toba. Berastagi has among others a magnificent church, dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi, built according to the typical principles of Batak architecture.

In the vicinity of Berastagi, we also visited a village which has preserved many traditional houses. Maybe also a little to attract tourists ...

Sipiso Piso waterfall

Before arriving at the lake, a stop to visit the Sipiso Piso waterfall. An underground river that emerges a few meters from the top of a cliff is always an astonishing sight.

On Samosir Island, we visited an ancient Batak cemetery with between the tomb of one of the Batak kings, Sidabutar. Then we attended a traditional dance performance.

about the place, Lac Toba:

Tobameer is a large lake located in Sumatra. It is about 100 kilometers in length and 30 in loageur. The greatest depth of Lake Toba is 505 meters. It occupies the crater of a super-volcano. It is the largest lake in Indonesia and the largest Volbanic lake in the world. The size of the crater suggests the magnitude of the eruptions of this super-volcano around 75,000 years ago. The last eruption was the largest on earth in 25 million years.

The populations around the lake are mostly Bataks.

In the center of the lake, Samosir Island is the largest island located on an island. The magnificent landscapes on and around the lake make it a popular destination for tourists.

tomb in the royal cemetery, Toba Lake, Sumatra • Indonesia

What's the weather like in Toba Lake?


Spoken comments in the film: 

These beautiful large thatched roof houses are part of the Batak culture.

Unfortunately the cost of maintaining these beautiful buildings is considerable and we see more and more these thatched roofs replaced by corrugated iron roofs.

These very large houses house between 6 and 10 families and the intimacy in these houses is more than random ...

The space reserved for each family is delimited by carpets on the floor.

Lake Toba is the crater of a super volcano whose last eruption dates back 74,000 years.

It is the largest volcanic lake in the world with its 100 km long and 35 km wide.

After the last eruption the crater filled with water and later the bottom rose to form the island of Samosir which is in its center.



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Disclaimer: Despite its appropriateness, copyright issues prevent the use of indonesian traditional music in "Indonesia • Sumatra • Lake Toba, homeland of the Bataks ", hence the use of royalty-free music. Despite our careful selection, some might regret this decision, which is necessary to avoid potential lawsuits. Although difficult, this decision is the only viable solution.

overview of the lake, Toba Lake • Indonesia • Sumatra

overview of the lake

Samosir royal cemetery, Toba Lake • Indonesia • Sumatra

Samosir royal cemetery

Batak houses, Toba Lake • Indonesia • Sumatra

Batak houses

Batak dancers, Toba Lake • Indonesia • Sumatra

Batak dancers

Indonesia, Sumatra • Toba lake

overview of the lake, Toba Lake • Indonesia • Sumatra

overview of the lake

Samosir royal cemetery, Toba Lake • Indonesia • Sumatra

Samosir royal cemetery

Batak houses, Toba Lake • Indonesia • Sumatra

Batak houses

Batak dancers, Toba Lake • Indonesia • Sumatra

Batak dancers

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