[Destination] Berastagi

Brastagi is a former Dutch hill resort, 66 km away from Medan, at an altitude of 4,600 feet, is a cool and pleasant town. It is an ideal starting and ending point for travels in Sumatera as it is near the main Sumateran entry point of Medan. There are hotels of all standards, moneychangers, and restaurants serving both Indonesian and western style food, nice scenery, and very friendly and polite people. No guides and salesman will bother you when walking town.

The four-hour drive from Lake Toba to Brastagi, skirting the lake for a long way, is picturesque. It is a narrow, winding road through pine forest, terraced plantations and verdant meadows in the Karo hills, with hardly any people around. On the way, at the tip of the lake, is a waterfall named Sipiso Piso (Razor's Edge). It is a tourist spot with food stalls and souvenir shops.

It lies between two volcanoes. The area is known for its cool climate, orchids, flowers, fruits and vegetables. Back-packers use it as a base for climbing the two volcanoes, jungle trekking and for visiting the nearby Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. There were a tourist that had been for months, eating only fruits and vegetable and soya curd for protein.

Package tours to the Triangle are available from Malaysia and Singapore, in another name, at another price. However, one can do the tour conveniently on one's own, economically and leisurely. If you have missed Lake Toba for your honeymoon, it is never to late for a visit.

Up to and around Bukit Gundaling is a nice and not very demanding walk. The area is pretty with some grandiose villas and great views over Brastagi, toward Gunung Sibayak, and towards Gunung Sinabung. On the top there are many stalls. It is very populer on Sundays.

Tahura is a protected forest covering 51,500 ha. The main gate is 5 km from Brastagi towrds Medan. At the gate is a 100 m wide park-like forest popular for picnics, especially on Sundays. Behind this area is untouched forest.There are many villages around Berastagi and many have at least a few traditional houses, often inhabitated by eight families each. It can be a good idea to visit such a village that is not a tourist object if one wants to see normal everyday life of the Karo people.

The one of the "musts" in Brastagi is to walk up on Gunung Sibayak, this volcano is still active and the environment on the summit 2,172 m above sea level. Lau Debuk-debuk hot springs are one of the most popular attraction of Berastagi. the hot springs that most tourist visits is however not Lau Debuk-debuk, but Gunung Semangat hot springs, which sloppily is also called Alu Debuk-debuk.

A cool hill town, Brastagi is a good base from which to explore Karo Batak villages, climb volcanoes or sample jungle trekking in Gunung Leuser National Park. The park is one of the largest national park in Asia. It cover more than 7750 sq km and protect more than 100 different animals, including rhinoceros, elephant, tiger & orangutan and at least 300 spieces of birds.

The Erpangir Kulau ceremony takes place once every month on the day of Cukra Lau, the best according to the Karonese calendar. On this day, people come to pray and ask for help, to ge twell, to find a wife or husband, most people come before noon and normally come in small groups and dressed in white.

Air Terjun Sikulikap is 10 km from the monument in Brastagi along the road to Medan, the are black Gibbons, Macaques, Squirrels, Hornbills, Phyton, butterflies and lots of herbal plants and birds to be seen.

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