Tongging is a place to see a waterfall surrounded by beautiful sights in cool mauntain air. It is 24 km from Kaban jahe, located at the north side of Lake Toba. The 360 feet waterfall is visible from a gazebo at one of the tops of the hills.
A visit to the heart of Pulau Samosir is recommended for those interested in more than the laid back life in Tuk Tuk.
On the inner "island", you can enjoy the friendliness and hospitality of the Batak Toba people and observe their interesting way of life, something that you will lack in over touristy Tuk Tuk.
A popular way is to rent motorbikes and explore the island, or go hiking.
When hiking, usually people make a choice:
1. Daytrip Tuk Tuk - Ambarita - Dolok (have lunch and a drink) - and back;
2. like 1, but continue from Dolok the same day to Pangaruran and then back by bus to Tuk Tuk (crazy trip, very long and therefore hardly enjoyable)
3. Like 2 , but stay in Dolok for the night, which leaves a relaxed hike to Pangaruran!
I chose for the last option. You can take notice of that in the following tips.
From Ambarita (45 minutes from TukTuk by foot) a small and steep trail guides you over the crater edge (2 hours) and continues to tiny Dolok village
The scenery is gorgeous as you can imagine; climbing higher gives excellent views over the Lake! Once finishing the steep climb, you walk through thick forest and finally arrive in cultivated lands.
The traditional Batak Toba houses are just fantastic, a design I have never seen before, and superbly decorated.
I was admiring a newly painted house when the painter came out to see me and he showed me around.
Not all Toba people still maintain their traditions but I also met people -like this guy-that were still proud of their cultural heritage.
Sometimes I passed small settlements, like here on the picture -where the school kids came to see me!
Just before that, their teacher had invited me for a cup of coffee in a local coffee annex gamble room; well, that was a welcome break after 3 hours hiking!!
During the cross-Island trek I found the people of Samasir Island very friendly, welcoming and moreover, they loved to have there pictures taken
Of course it goes without saying that you should try to be friends first and only then raise your camera with a smile.
After leaving Dolok you can follow the trails and roads to the small town of Pangururan or go back down to Tuk Tuk.
I would highly recommend to cross the island to see the villages, the people and enjoy nature. I didn't meet any tourists and that was nice as well after almost a week in TukTuk.
It's possible to go without a map and ask the people you encounter for directions.
This is the adventurous and cool way to do it, since they might show you "shortcuts" and paths you would never find yourself and bring you to rarely visited villages and houses.
The maps I found in Tuk Tuk I found completely useless.
Far away from the tourists In Dolok are 2 extremely basic family homestays to stay for the night.
The village is very nice situated, being surrounded by coffeeplantations, lush hills and forest.
You can choose John's Losmen or Jennies Guesthouse. Both places are very basic but serve food and drinks.
I stayed at John's, who was very hospitable. He invited me to share their familydiner and when leaving it was up to me how much to pay. He was also very helpful in giving directions for the trek.
Competition between John's en Jennies is keen. When I wanted to meet Jennies family as well and have a drink they ignored me and refused the drink...to avoid a fight with John's. It's something not to be done, apparently....
Some dozens of kms south of Parapat, on the main road to/from Bukittinggi, there is a thermal spring with impressive calcareous formations.
Luckily we could manage to stop the bus here for an hour and have a pleasant evening bath in the hot water.
Haranggoal is a village on the northern shore of lake Toba.
It is not a tourist place, but many buses to northern Sumatra depart from here.
There is a busy market very popular with locals, where you'll find any kind of local goods.
It is a 3 hours journey by boat from Parapat or Samosir island.
On Pulau Samosir you'll find a lot of coffee plantations. Not only can you see how locals treat the raw beans, but you're likely to be invited to have a cup somewhere as well!
We did a lot of walking away from Tuk Tuk peninsula. Everywhere you can discover groups of beautiful Batak style houses.