I visited Samosir island with 3 other volunteers for a few days. Not only was this visit encouraged by management, but they also arranged everything and provided us with a driver for the 3 hour transportation to the ferry. At times it was hard to wrap our heads around how nice management was, our vacation to Samosir within our volunteer holiday at Taman Simalem, or kayaking on the biggest volcanic lake along the biggest island within an island, but sometimes, life is just good!
Tuktuk is the popular tourist destination on this island and is where we stayed. Most of the island looks natural and undeveloped, so is very scenic. There’s a lot of farming on the island and the the coast is dotted with local homes, tourist hotels and shops. It is very peaceful and quite inexpensive. We were surprised to find many westerners (Europeans) vacationing there as most of the guests we had at Simalem were Indonesian.
This island has some of the traditional Batak homes still standing. They are unique as they arch up to steep peaks on either end, like a boat. Many of them were very old and being used for storage, but a few of them were updated, or had additions to make them livable. I would have loved to see them in their prime, painted with bright colors.
This photo shows an old abandoned Batak home (in the back), with a newer home, that is more typical now (right), next to it.
The hotel was built similar to the traditional homes there, so was constructed of wood and was very charming. The resort also had a great restaurant and a pool overlooking the lake. They also made their own coffee, which was amazing (and better than Simalem’s).
We rented bicycles and rode on an old mountain path. Not the best place to ride a bicycle, as there were lots of muddy ruts and branches, but it was still fun to explore. We passed water buffalo on our ride.
One of the volunteers befriended a local woman one morning and we hired her to be our guide for a day. She brought 3 motorbikes (2 of us shared a bike) and we rode around the island.
…stopped at one of the beaches on the lake. Our guide suggested that the lake was polluted and that we shouldn’t swim in it. I couldn’t find much information on that, but didn’t want to risk it.
Our 6 hour ride to and from the island was a bit challenging, however. All four of us volunteers were crammed in the back seat of a small pickup truck. We couldn’t all sit with our backs against the seat at the same time, so took turns having two people scoot forward. Watching oncoming trucks swerving in front of us on the narrow windy roads was also an interesting experience. Our drivers never seemed a bit nervous, and we always arrived safely.