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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 >_<
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!
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.
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.
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:
- 10 Things to do in South Sumatra – CC Food Travel
- South Sumatra – Stray from the beaten path – Suma Lifestyle
- 6 reasons why South Sumatra is the next up and coming destination – Pohtecktoes
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!)
- Suzannita (INDO)
- Venus (INDO)
- Omnduut (INDO)
- Cumilebay (INDO)
- Maman (INDO)
- Swastika (INDO)
- Pojiegraphy (MALAY)
This trip was sponsored by the South Sumatra Tourism Board.