Camping and Exploring the Eastern Side of Amazing Lake Toba: Parapat to Air Terjun Sipiso Piso

View over Lake Toba from BIR Campsite

From the highest waterfall in Indonesia, Curug Ponot we we’re continuing our drive towards the largest lake in Southeast Asia: Danau Toba.

Lake Toba is not just any other lake. It was formed by a mega-volcanic eruption around 74.000 years ago. It created this unique and stunning landscape with a huge lake in its middle. It is definitely one of the must-see places in Indonesia but still has many areas left where you can get off-the beaten track. Lake Toba is around 90km long and 30km wide and has an island, Pulau Samosir, in its middle. The area is inhabited by the Batak people. They are famous for their musical talent, their longhouses, and large graves which you can see all over Samosir. 

Most tourists spend their time on Pulau Samosir, but for me, the area around the lake is much more interesting and fun to explore. I was here a few years ago and met my friend Octa through Couchsurfing. He is also an adventurer at heart and lived in the area for many years. He gave me a lot of amazing tips, organizexd a scooter for me to ride around with, and helped me with route planning. So, most of the places I will share here and in my upcoming blogs about Toba I have found thanks to Octa. If you’re reading this – thank you so much Octa! Keep dreaming and keep riding!

On this trip, Danu and I decided to focus on the east side of Toba as we knew we’d pass by the other side of Lake Toba again on our drive back.

Route on Google Maps


From Porsea we continued on the Lintas Sumatera to Parapat. Parapat is one of the traveller hubs for people who want to cross over on the boats to Pulau Samosir. It has many hotels in case you need a place to stay. Once you pass Parapat, the main road runs along the lake as it leads up into the hills. You get some amazing views and it’s the perfect spot to stop for some food or a coffee with view. We had lunch at Winitie Coffeeshop. With its quirky décor it looks a bit different than the other places along the road and their fish with the green sambal (Ikan Mas sambal hijau) was delicious!


Parapat to Sipiso Piso Waterfall (Merek)

Shortly after Winitie Coffeeshop we took a left turn onto Jl. Pematang Purba – Parapat and left the Lintas behind us. This is a small road, carved into the hillside above Lake Toba. It’s in great condition and absolutely beautiful to drive. There are a few small Warungs on the side of the road with some viewpoints but make sure to fill up on petrol before heading onto this road as a lot of shops were closed. 

Unfortunately, it was pouring down while we were driving along this road so we did not stop anywhere, but I can recommend taking a look at these two places from my precious trip:

Bukit Sipolha – It’s a small hill right by the lake which you can climb up for some beautiful views. It’s also possible to camp there by the lake shore and of course you can take a dip into the lake to cool down a bit.

Abandoned Fish Restaurant - A few years back this place was all covered in bushes, and I had to climb through a small plantation to get there. This time the bushed where cleared so maybe someone plans to do something again with this funny building. It sure is a quirky sight and fun place to take some pictures. It’s right next to the road, close to the turn to Bukit Sipolah, so you can’t miss it.


Sipiso Piso Waterfall

Sipiso Piso Waterfall is one of my favourite spots around Lake Toba. The place actually holds two highlights. There is the picture-perfect waterfall on one side and an amazing viewpoint over Lake Toba on the other side.

You can walk down to the waterfall starting from the higher part of the parking area. It takes around 10 to 15 minutes to reach the bottom of the waterfall and there is a little warung for some coffee with the perfect view along the trek.

Once you’re back from the hike, treat yourself to some delicious Gorengan from one of the shops in the parking area. Gorengan are a famous snack all around Indonesia, but in this area, they have a special recipe, and they are even yummier than usual. Or maybe I was just super hungry after the hike back up the hill…

Make sure to also walk down to the lower part of the parking area. From there you get a stunning view over the hills and Lake Toba. The first time I visited this place the view took my breath away and I sat there for a long time, looking around and taking it all in. This second time was just as amazing, and I had Danu next to me to share it with.

Octa told me that it’s possible to camp in this parking area. It would be ok if you get here late at night, but there are so many other amazing spots nearby so I would recommend to venture out and look for another spot to set up camp.


Camping at Bukit Sinarta

Following Octa’s suggestion, we headed to Sinarta hill to look for a place to camp. A bumpy dirt road lead through vegetable plantations until we reached the edge of the hill after around 10 to 15 minutes. What a stunning spot, right on the edge of the hill, overlooking the lake, steep green hills and with nothing but nature surrounding us. When we got there, the access to the hill was unfortunately blocked, as some people had decided to build an official campsite there. It should be ready and open for business by now. Enjoy!

We ended staying close by at the Binahal Indah Resort BIR, which sounds a lot fancier than it was. It’s a simple campsite with a few cabins for rent. It might get busy on the weekends, but when we were there, we had it almost to ourselves and were even allowed to park our van Black Pearl right on the edge of the hill. It’s a beautiful spot, especially at night-time when hundred of lights start glowing along the lake shore below.

At night Octa dropped by to visit. It was awesome to have a lot of laughs and catch up again after all these years.  

Binahal Indah Resort BIR

Location: Click here

Fee: 20k / person (a bit more if you want to park in the first row)

Facilities: campground, a few wooden huts for rent, electricity charging stations, toilets, a simple Warung

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