The bike journey from Samosir to Tele
Many have boasted about the beauty of lake Toba, the geographical wonder of the supervolcano crater, the surreal experience of a certain magical fungi. I took the bait and headed out to Medan to see it for myself. And indeed… Captivating as it was, there was a crave for more.
Locals and guidebooks alike recommended viewpoints to view the magnificence of this massive crater island, but which exactly — that was the question. There are multiple viewpoints around the whole of Samosir to see Lake Toba, depending on how far you are willing to venture, but the one we decided to explore, was the one where you had to leave the island of Samosir, to see the island of Samosir.
Tele is a town about 40km away from Samosir, some say it’s a gruelling ride because of the distance, but road conditions aren’t too bad either. Apart from the rocky terrain leaving the last bit of town, the entire journey thereafter proved to be a smooth ride. Along the way, we made many pit stops. The daily traditional Batak dance at the cultural museum was something recommended by many guesthouses when asked, well my recommendation is NOT to see it.
While i wouldn’t say 50,000 rupiah was considered a rip off, the performance put on by the elderly locals were insincere and joked upon by themselves. The mere 4 people in the audience stared on with eyes that were as dead as a corpse, and I felt incredibly sorry for that unwilling cow that got pulled into the act for the “sacrifice” ceremony. Despite that we made the most out of it and were the only two volunteers who participated in the ceremonial dance. Done and dusted, another one checked on the tourist trap list.
Riding through the villages were nice, and stopping at little towns to grab authentic Medanese cuisine was refreshing. Judging by the fact that the town of Samosir sells pretty much the same food in all resorts and restaurants, The Best Bet for a humble local fare lies in the random towns not seen by most.
Bends and bends later we finally arrived at Tele Tower. It cost a little to enter, the type of amount that sometimes fall out of your pocket in taxis, and the view was just majestic.
From up top it wasn’t easy to soak up the view within a short amount of time. Just staring into the vast flat island, looking out at how massive this crater lake is, thinking about how enormous that Supervolcano must have been all those decades back, it indeed is quite a sight.
We also spotted two waterfalls and took panoramic images that did no justice to Mother Nature.
On the ride down, a good spot to stop for a meal before you reach town would be Buddha Cafe. It’s a pleasant surprise to find this hidden gem with an enchanting private mosaic garden that overlooks the lake. Littered with wind-chimes, flags, trinkets; this cafe decorates everything down to the littlest details and is a peaceful haven for some relaxation.
They serve the most humble and delicious vegan dishes, and even have a selection of homemade coconut ice creams. It’s also really nice to chill out at the ledge overlooking the lake at the back of the garden. Definitely a recommended stop point after a long ride to Tele Tower!
How to get to tele tower:
Get to the main road outside of Samosir. Simply ride up north, pass Ambarita, then the cultural center, keep going as you’re progressing west. There’s no way to get lost here because as the locals say “there is only one road”.
Here’s when it gets more than “only one road”. Before the town of Pangururan, take the bridge on the right, at the end of the bridge, Turn Left and up the mountains.