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Lake Toba Part III | We're Not There Yet

We honestly didn’t do all that much at the lake, so there’s not much more to tell about our travel there.  It is totally worth talking about the lake itself though, since it is an amazing place and one that is so low-key in its amazing-ness that I only learned about the lake by Googling it while we were hanging out there.  What I learned was that Lake Toba is one of the most impressive geological sites in the world. Here’s the background on the lake:

Lake Toba is a lake that is formed in the caldera of the largest supervolcano in the world.  It is the largest volcanic lake in the world, and the only volcano bigger than the supervolcano at Yellowstone in the USA.

The eruption that formed the lake is superlative in just about every sense. It was the largest eruption of the last 25 million years (a “mega-colossal” eruption on the VEI scale).

You may have heard of the “year without a summer” in 1815 when another Indonesian volcano spewed so much ash and rock into the atmosphere that there was no summer in the entire Northern Hemisphere. Well, that eruption shot 100 cubic kilometers of ash and rock into the atmosphere.  When Toba blew up, it shot over 2,700 cubic (!!!) kilometers of ash and rock into the air, enough to cover even parts of India 20 feet deep in ash.  There was so much ash (not to mention 10,000 million tons of sulphuric acid) that is caused a “volcanic winter” which reduced the global temperature for years by up to 10 degrees, and up to 27 degrees at higher latitudes!

According to the Toba Catastrophe Theory, the even was so cataclysmic that it caused a massive extinction even around the world, reduced the planet’s human population to a few tens of thousands, and had a major effect on the genetic heritage of all humans today.

I thought that maybe the coolest thing about this volcano was that no one even bothers to tell you what a big deal it is, or sell it as a major destination.  It once again made us compare Indonesia with New Zealand, where anything that was pretty or interesting was overdeveloped and oversold.  One of the great things about traveling in Indonesia is that, as amazing as things in this country are, it hasn’t developed its tourism infrastructure to the point where things feel oversold.  It’s a beautiful lake with friendly, hard-drinking locals, and the discovery of how amazing it is was collateral to our decision to go there.  It is very, very easy to fall in love with Indonesia.

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