Visiting Sumatra’s 2nd Largest Lake: Danau Ranau

It feels like everybody and their mother in Singapore has been to Bali already, so when the opportunity came up for me to check out South Sumatra, I was pretty stoked at the chance to explore some lesser seen parts of Indonesia. Besides getting to witness the total solar eclipse while in Palembang, we also ventured out of the city to see more of the region, and one of the highlights was visiting Lake Ranau or Danau Ranau, the 2nd largest lake in Sumatra after the more famous Lake Toba.

This trip to South Sumatra was sponsored by the South Sumatra Tourism Board.

Where is Lake Ranau / Danau Ranau?

South Sumatra Ranau Lake V
Viva la Danau Ranau! Thanks Joe from CC Food Travel for the picture

Lake Ranau aka Danau Ranau is located at the border of the South Ogan Komering Ulu (OKU) region and West Lampung. This is the second largest volcanic lake in Sumatra, Indonesia’s largest island located on the western end of the archipelago.

Lake Ranau is very much under the radar as it is overshadowed by Lake Toba in North Sumatra that is both the 2nd largest volcanic lake and deepest in the world.

South Sumatra Ranau Lake Wisma Pusri Jetty
Danau Ranau on a gloomy evening with Mount Seminung in the distance

Things to do at Lake Ranau

We stayed in accommodation right on the bank of the lake, and this is a beautiful place for you to just chill out and take a lot of photos in. But here’s a little bit more about what you can do at Lake Ranau.

South Sumatra Ranau Lake WIsma Pusri Jetty Shot
I kinda like this moody shot. Thanks Pojie for the picture – that’s my cabinzero if you’re wondering what I”m carrying
South Sumatra Ranau Lake Wisma Pusri Jetty Bloggers
Ever ready for their cover shot – Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean bloggers at work!

Take a boat ride across the lake

The day we arrived was pretty rainy and gloomy, but perfect the next day so we took a boat ride out on Lake Ranau. The lake was empty save for fishermen going about their usual business, casting their nets into the clear mirror-like waters.

Odd tip: bring your phones along because for some reason, the phone reception is better in the middle of the lake than it is on the hotel grounds. I had extremely minimal reception in the room but once I was in the middle of the lake, all my notifications starting buzzing.

South Sumatra Ranau Lake Boat Silhouette
Heading out by boat!
South Sumatra Ranau Lake Boat Star
We spent our time taking in the breeze on the roof of the boat. Thanks Hendric from Pohtecktoes for this awesome shot via GoPro!

Most people take the boat ride out to nearby Marisa Island. This is not an island you can walk around on as it’s mostly covered with trees, so the boat just takes a loop around it.

South Sumatra Ranau Lake Marisa Island
Marisa Island is the copse of trees on the bottom right. I was a tad disappointed it wasn’t an actual island haha

Visit the hot springs

We then headed to another part of the lake where there are hot springs – the lake was created from a basin due to a volcanic eruption after all. The hot springs are mostly a cordoned off area and you need to constantly wave your arms to mix the hot water and lake water together so you don’t feel like you’re being cooked. We actually spent more time splashing around in the lake waters than soaking in the hot springs.

South Sumatra Ranau Lake Hot Spring
Welcome to the Hot Springs! You can’t quite see it, but there was a bit of steam across the top of the hot spring pool
South Sumatra Ranau Lake Hot Spring Houses
Some little huts and facilities here, though we didn’t explore these
South Sumatra Ranau Lake Hot Spring Tubes
They provided us tubes so we could go swimming!
South Sumatra Ranau Lake Hot Spring Boat Jump
Taking the plunge with Trisna and Fiona! The water is actually pretty shallow so you can feel the bottom when you jump in
South Sumatra Ranau Lake Hot Spring Drone Rendy
This aerial shot of the Hot Springs area at the foot of Mount Seminung was taken from a drone by the amazing Rendy – find more of his photography on instagram over at @aliangger

Eat delicious grilled fish

We only spent a night at Danau Ranau, but before leaving, we indulged in a lunch of Mujair Kumbang, some traditionally grilled fish from the lake which is a specialty of the area. Absolutely delicious, unfortunately I was falling a bit ill so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have >_<

South Sumatra Ranau Lake Fried Fish Cooking
Mujair Kumbang being grilled and waiting to be eaten
South Sumatra Ranau Lake Fried Fish meal
The fish is served with rice, soup, vegetables and a special thick sauce
South Sumatra Ranau Lake Fried Fish shop
I wish I knew the name of this little shop! There is Joe emerging victorious after a good meal

Accommodation at Lake Ranau

We stayed in Villa Wisma Pusri, which had a great lake-side location looking towards the picturesque Mount Seminung in the distance. Make sure you get a villa that overlooks the water so you can enjoy the sunset views!

South Sumatra Ranau Lake Wisma Pusri Bungalow
Bungalows by the waterside. The white wall one on the right is recently renovated and very new. The ones on the left are a bit more rustic

Also if you want something swanky, request for the villas that have been renovated – they seem to be doing this in phases and the upgraded ones are pretty comfortable looking compared to the normal villas. But despite all that, remember that you are in quite a remote area overall. The property runs on generators so during the day there is no electricity or hot water. Even at night, be prepared for wonky generators as well as cold showers.

South Sumatra Ranau Lake Wisma Pusri Room
View of the room – the unrenovated rooms are basic but spacious. The toilet is a bit sparse though.

Still, the surrounding area is generally quite cool all throughout the year, so there is no real need for air conditioning, which you really only need when you have to close the windows/doors against the insects. Also, the lake views are pretty amazing.

South Sumatra Ranau Lake Wisma Pusri Balcony View
From the balcony – overlooking the lake and mountains in the distance
South Sumatra Ranau Lake Sunset
Sunset!
South Sumatra Ranau Lake Wisma Pusri Selfie
Here’s a view of the villas from the water. Mine was the centre one on the right side
South Sumatra Ranau Lake Wisma Pusri Entertainment
Not much to do at night, but the hotel arranged for some live Karaoke and we had a bit of a dance and sing off

No website or email unfortunately – you have to call them up +62 82175131381 . Standard rooms go at about 250-300k IDR (about S$25-30) while the VIP upgraded rooms go at about 450k IDR (~S$46)


How to get to Lake Ranau

South Sumatra’s beauty lies in the fact that it remains fairly undeveloped, especially when you compare it against tourist hotspots like Bali and Jakarta, so while I definitely encourage you to visit the region, be prepared that getting around may be a bit challenging as it’s not the most well developed and there are lots of hills and winding roads so you aren’t going to get anywhere too quickly. We were travelling at least 3-4 hours by bus for each destination (and had an epic 8 hours bus ride on one day).

Lake Ranau is definitely not the easiest place to get to, which is why its still quite untouched:

  • It’s a whopping 340km from Palembang which is the closest international airport – expect at least 7-8 hours of driving directly from Palembang
  • Lampung has a much smaller airport as well but it’s not that much closer and still requires at least 6-7 hours driving

The South Sumatran tourism folk have advised that there is a direct bus from Palembang to Lake Ranau at around 120 – 150k IDR (more info pending about where you can do so) but if you are planning a trip, this should give you a sense of budget at least. I highly recommend a private car, or possibly breaking up the journey over a few days by taking your time and stopping overnight at other towns along the way.

Lonely Planet recommends the following if you are willing to brave public transport, though it seems… rather tedious!

  • Palembang to Baturaja by bus (120km, est 4 hours) or train (Bandarlampung Train line, est 3.5 hours)
  • Baturaja to Simpang Sender by bus (120km, est 3 hours)
  • Simpang Sender to Lake Ranau by van/mini bus (18km, est 20 mins)

Some other blogs you can refer to from fellow bloggers on this trip with me about Danau Ranau and South Sumatra:

Definitely check out this amazing video by Pojiegraphy of our trip (and spot me!)
and if you can read Bahasa or don’t mind some Google Translate (sorry if I missed out any of your links! Drop me a comment so I can link to it!)

This trip was sponsored by the South Sumatra Tourism Board.


Looking for more things to do in South Sumatra? Why not check out the other places in Indonesia that I’ve visited as well.

6 thoughts on “Visiting Sumatra’s 2nd Largest Lake: Danau Ranau”

  1. Hey! thanks for the info, right in time as i’m planning my trip to south Sumatra. Do you have any recommendations on a private car (with driver preferably)? Or how to look for it? as info on south Sumatra is challenging to find:)

    1. Hi Anna, unfortunately I don’t have any contacts on hand right this moment, but you may want to start asking your hotel or accommodation for starters? They usually give decent recommendations! I’ll post something up and let you know if I find anything :)

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