Discovering Lake Ranau in South Sumatra

South Sumatra Ranau Lake Sunset

My trip to South Sumatra was a pretty eye-opening one – besides taking in the total solar eclipse while in Palembang, we also spent a little time travelling outside the capital to other parts of South Sumatra and seeing the beautiful and diverse Indonesian landscape.

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

One of the most beautiful locations we visited was Lake Ranau aka Danau Ranau located in the South Ogan Komering Ulu (OKU) region and West Lampung. This is the second largest volcanic lake in Sumatra, but it’s like no one has ever heard of it – most people only know the more popular Lake Toba in North Sumatra which is the second largest volcanic lake and the deepest one in the world.

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

But if you are looking for tranquility and a real getaway from civilisation, Lake Ranau is definitely a place to consider for its quiet and beauty. Thanks again to the South Sumatra Tourism Board for inviting me along on this trip!

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 – this 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 – it’s more for the ventilation and when you close the windows/doors against the insects. Also, the views are pretty damn worthwhile.

South Sumatra Ranau Lake Wisma Pusri Balcony View
From the balcony – overlooking the lake and mountains in the distance
South Sumatra Ranau Lake 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)

Things to do at Lake Ranau

Bloggers being bloggers, we spent most of the evening of our arrival day just hanging out on the pier, taking in the view and taking ridiculous pictures.

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

We took a boat ride out on Lake Ranau the next morning when the weather was perfect – the lake was empty save for fishermen going about their usual business, casting their nets into the clear mirror-like waters. Odd fact: 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 is a hot spring! We actually spent more time splashing around in the lake rather than soaking in the hot springs. The Hot Springs are quite natural, in that you have to constantly mix the hot water and lake water together to ensure you don’t get scalded.

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 here, and 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

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!)

How to get to Lake Ranau

The funny thing about Indonesia is that I have actually seen very little of it, considering it is literally so close to home for me – just a bit more than hour if you fly directly to Palembang. But 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 an epic 8 hours 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 direct from Palembang
  • Lampung has a much smaller airport as well but it’s not that much closer – at least 6-7 hours

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)

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 “Discovering Lake Ranau in South Sumatra”

  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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