Sumatra Waterfalls – Sipiso-Piso Falls landscape photography

Stunning Sumatra Waterfalls in Indonesia

This article is an introduction to a select number of Sumatra Waterfalls and where exactly to find them. Sipiso-piso falls is one of the better known Sumatra Waterfalls and probably the most well known in Indonesia. Partly due to its beautiful setting in the Karo Highlands of North Sumatra where it drains into the enormous Lake Toba (Danau Toba) an equally impressive force of nature created from a Volcanic Crater of such vast proportions millions of years ago it is hard to even imagine the scale of what must have been!
sipiso-piso sumatra waterfalls
Sipiso Piso Falls
sipiso-piso on karo highlands plateau
Karo Higlands Plateau
Sumatra in western Indonesia is the largest island (of the many thousands that the country is comprised of) and is also the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km sq. It has a huge variety of plant and animal species and although during the past 35 years it has lost 50% of its tropical rainforest it still remains a wet place with a lot of vegetation, lakes, mountains, volcanoes, hot springs and concerning the topic of this post Sumatra Waterfalls.
The Land That Time Forgot

One of the many waterfalls or Air Terjun as they are known in Bahasa Indonesia scattered around the island is a truly remarkable waterfall known as Sipiso-piso waterfall (roughly translated means ‘like a knife’). Sipiso piso has to be at the top of the list of Sumatra Waterfalls. It is located in the Batak highlands at the far northern edge of Lake Toba which it runs into at the small Kampung or village of Tongging. You can reach this waterfall from Tongging which is about 5km’s away or from Berastagi which is 45 km’s away.
Rainbow at Vapours End

It is formed from a small underground river that comes from within the Karo Plateau and hurtles with great speed and force out of a cave in the Lake Toba caldera walls 120 metres (360ft) to what can only be described as a dangerous plunge pool. Sipiso-piso falls is known as the highest in Indonesia due to this sheer drop being without tiers or levels as other falls may have.
Ethereal plunge pool

More impressive Sumatra Waterfalls and just one of the many cascading down the lush green mountain sides of mid-west lake Toba is Sampuran Falls also known as Sampuran Efrata Falls (efrata is waterfall in Batak language). These sumatra waterfalls have a number of levels which you can see from miles away that descend a few hundred metres down the mountainside but are difficult to reach, the main falls that are more easily accessible are well worth the visit and I can assure you no-one in their right mind would be disappointed.
Sampuran Efrata Falls

stunning sampuran sumatra waterfalls
At the Base of Sampuran Falls

Sampuran Efrata Falls are situated below Tele, you have to take the hairpin bends down the mountainside which offers stunning picturesque views as you descend of Lake Toba, Samosir Island and Gunung Pusuk Buhit until you reach a small village on the shores of Toba called Harian Boho. From there you take a rough road back up the hillside meandering through fields of paddy and sweetcorn, coffee plantations and the likes until you see the sign for Sampuran Efrata Falls. Alternatively if you are in Pangururan on Samosir Island just go over the bridge onto the mainland and head for Harian Boho that way.
Simply Magical

Over in Sumatra Barat or West Sumatra about 50 km’s or 30 miles away from the hill town of Bukittinggi (Bukit = Hill, Tinggi = High) there is the rugged Harau Valley where cliffs covered in foliage loom high up above ones head (excellent climbing country) and Sumatra waterfalls are in abundance.
In Harau Valley there are a total of five waterfalls all of which all are quite high but not of the gushing torrent type. They are more slender and elegant if you like, wispy and cascading. As you pass through the entrance gate where you pay a small fee of around 1000 INR you will hit a village and a junction, the road to the left has one waterfall and the road to the right contains 4 waterfalls and here the valley is tighter. The road is only motorable for a certain distance then you are on foot. Three waterfalls are in close proximity to one another but about 500m further on from these you will find the best one of all.
Base of the falls
What interested me the most about the Sumatra Waterfalls in Harau Valley were at the base where the more impressive cascading took place, water impact upon the rocks being much more ideal for my style of long exposure photography when it comes to waterfalls.
There are an abundance of Sumatra Waterfalls in the Bukittinggi area just inquire as to their whereabouts. One very close to town which I attempted to visit but was prevented by the treacherous rain closing the road is known as Bodorai at the village of Sungai Puar located on the forested slopes of Mount Marapi or Gunung Marapi. At the end of the motorable road you must walk a further 3 km’s to reach there.

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6 Responses

  1. Noushka

    Hi Antony!
    Thanks for dropping by on my blog! I was wondering where you were in your trips!!
    Your pictures are stunning and tremendously soothing!
    A great discovery for me this morning!
    It looks really humid but magical!
    Keep well, cheers!

  2. Senad R

    I love these water shots, very nice Antony!
    Do you live in Asia, or just travelig there a lot?

  3. Antony

    Thanks for the comment Noushka and Hi Sen.
    I was living in Asia, now doing a lot of travelling and loving it, too much to see of course in one lifetime but I'm gonna have a good go!!

  4. Senad R

    Is USA on your agenda? 🙂

  5. Antony

    USA not on the agenda just yet Sen was thinking more to the south sometime in the near future ie. Colombia. Have you been there already?

  6. Senad R

    Colombia, not yet, it's on my radar in near future.

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