Around 80,000 years ago, a cataclysmic eruption ripped through the mountains of northern Sumatra, transforming the world’s climate and almost completely wiping out homo sapiens. Its source was a volcano whose steep-walled caldera today holds a serene, green-blue lake known as Danau Toba – the largest body of freshwater in Indonesia.

Connected to the shore via a narrow isthmus of land, Samosir, the presque-isle in the lake’s centre, is the homeland of the Toba Batak – a community of Christianized indigenous people, infamous in colonial times for their custom of ritual cannibalism. Nowadays, however, visitors can expect a rather warmer welcome at Batak villages! Dotted along the island’s tropical shoreline are a string of delightful little resorts that make ideal bases from which to make leisurely cycle rides and treks through the forested interior. Hike to hidden white-sand beaches and wonderful wild-swimming spots, or simply relax and enjoy the sublime scenery and exotic local architecture.

While the Christian missionaries that converted the Toba Batak a century ago erased many local traditions, lots of houses retain antique-style upswept eaves and handsomely carved gables. Wood carving remains a local speciality – staffs sculpted with the faces of ancestral spirits are a staple of village handicraft shops – as does music, dance and weaving.

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With the world beginning to open up again, now is the time to begin planning your 2021 holiday to Asia. Our Travel Specialists are ready to take your call and discuss the adventure you have spent the last 12 months dreaming of.

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