Situated in Tanjung Raya district, Agam regency, West Sumatra, the 99.5 square-kilometer crater lake is close to Bukittinggi, quite literally a cool city due to it being 930-meters above sea-level.
Visitors can also easily reach Lake Maninjau from the West Sumatran capital, Padang, which is situated around 140 kilometers away.
Due to the increasing number of *keramba* (net cages in water) that residents use to breed fish, not many tourists come to Lake Maninjau to swim or do other activities on the lake. Some of the lodgings and cafes are also no longer open.
But the lake and its surroundings still offer a spectacular vista that will take your breath away, and you can still do at least three fun activities - if you're up for a little adventure that is.
Even for experienced cyclers, cycling from Lake Maninjau to Bukittinggi can be quite a challenge. The narrow, yet well-paved road is numbered with signs: Kelok 1, which is located in Lake Maninjau; Kelok 2, et cetera, to mark sharp corners. These numbers stop at 44.
The view is well worth the effort. You may even run into tame monkeys along the way.
Indonesia’s national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia held a bike tour event on Feb. 2 with more than a hundred cyclers joining in. Though it was foggy and raining when the tour kicked off at 8 a.m., most participants rode on enthusiastically to the finish line.
Hunting wild pigs
A popular activity in West Sumatra, hunting wild pigs is seen as a kind of sport in the eyes of residents in Agam. The activity initially began as a solution to stopping the animals disturbing rice fields and corn plants. On Sundays, you will see men riding motorcycles with a dog on their laps, on their way to the hills and forests.
The hunt usually starts at 10 a.m. since most of the hunters come from neighboring regencies and cities such as Bukittinggi, and it lasts until the afternoon.
Some people coming from farther afield usually bring their dogs from other provinces, such as Aceh and Java, because the canines are said to be smarter than local ones. The price for these “smart” hunting dogs can reach millions of rupiah (more than US$103,25).
Since most of the hunters are Muslims, the captured wild pigs will usually be given to the dogs to be eaten.
For thrill seekers, the Lawang Adventure Park in Nagari Lawang, Matur district, Agam regency, offers an unforgettable experience with its paragliding activities.
If you are brave enough to take off from about 1,200 meters above sea level, you can enjoy the gorgeous vista of the lake and its surroundings until it's time to land at Bayur beach in Lake Maninjau.
A paragliding competition is annually held in this location as well, with participants coming from all over the country and overseas.
The package is priced at US$60 per person for domestic tourists and $100 for foreigners.
Given its lofty location, Lawang Adventure Park is also a great place for snapping memorable pictures of the crater lake. It’s worth eating here too.
How to get there:
Garuda Indonesia offers flights from Jakarta to Padang five times a day, every day.
Lake Maninjau can be reached via two routes from Padang.
Go to Pariaman city before continuing to Lubuk Basung, Agam regency's capital. This route will take about three hours’ drive.
For a more unique experience, go to Bukittinggi from Padang and continue the journey to the lake by passing Kelok 44 until Kelok 1, the hill's sharp road curves. The trip from Bukittinggi usually takes around 1.5 hours.
Where to stay:
Nuansa Maninjau Resort, which is around 3.5 hours drive from Minangkabau International Airport, offers a great escape for honeymoon couples, families or large groups of people thanks to its huge establishment and various types of rooms and cottages. Enjoy Lake Maninjau's spectacular view from the swimming pool area or take a walk outside the resort's gate and go down the path to the left.
Expect cold mornings and nights and strong winds around rainy season, which is around January to February.
Read also: Getting away from it all in West Sumatra