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(Kindle and Paperback publish February 1st 2021)

Lake Toba in North Sumatra is the world’s biggest caldera lake. The lake partly fills the massive hole left following the eruption of one of the earth’s six active super-volcanoes, some 74,000 years ago. After the caldera filled with water, magma began to push the lake floor up into a resurgent dome, creating Samosir Island, the Heart of Toba.

“…when Toba blew up some 74,000 years ago it dwarfed even Yellowstone, ejecting 2,800 cubic kilometers of material. Ash buried areas of central India, nearly 5,000km away, up to six meters deep. It was the equivalent of more than 18 Mount Tamboras, or 2,800 Mount St Helens erupting together in one place.”

“Before we reached the village, we were reduced to bending double. Only by crouching down could we squeeze along the vague tunnel through the tangle of dense overgrown foliage: grasses, bracken, shrubs, and creepers, more than twice my height. Doubled over like this was a poor posture for good all-around vision. I could no longer effectively watch out for snakes.”

“…There are two types of cobra in Sumatra, the king cobra, Ophiophagus Hannah, and the Sumatran spitting cobra, Naja sumatran. Both can be deadly.”

Gradually the fabric of Toba life begins to emerge as Foster gathers the threads, weaving together the history, geology, the wildlife, and the personal stories, into a compelling picture of life at the Heart of Toba.

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Map location of Lake Toba Northe Sumatra Indonesia
Location of Lake Toba
World map showing location Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Indonesia


Author: Nigel Foster

Nigel Foster is a British author and an internationally renowned sea kayaker. He is known for his paddling exploits, which have given him inspiration for his writing, and for his instruction, designs of kayaks and equipment. He lives in Seattle USA with his wife, the ceramicist Kristin Nelson.

Engrossed in kayaking since his early teens, Foster followed his passion into a lifetime of travel adventures. His reputation has generated unique opportunities, and many of the captivating experiences that inspire his storytelling. 

His recent books include the Labrador and Ungava adventure: On Polar Tides, and the kayaking inspired essays from around the globe: Encounters from a Kayak. His latest guidebook: Paddling Southern Florida, features more than fifty of Southern Florida’s finest paddling trips. Of special note to kayakers is his definitive instructional manual, The Art of Kayaking.

You can find out more at nigelkayaks.com

ceremonial dancers in traditional costumes Baligé museum Lake Toba
Baligé Traditional Dancers
Ceremonial dance of the bowls at Baligé museum Lake Toba (Chapter 7)
map of Lake Toba with Samosir Island
Lake Toba and Samosir Island
Samosir Island in Lake Toba is known as the heart of Toba
Nigel Foster in Indonesia
Nigel Foster
Author of Heart of Toba