Low key distractions
Public transport does zoom along some of these roads, but timings are unpredictable, you aren’t able to stop and take photos or just simply enjoy the magnificent view and the waterfalls at Mengaya are inaccessible. Our suggestion is to rent a becak for 200,000 rupiah for the round-the-lake trip or a private car/minivan for 300,000 rupiah. During our most recent visit, rental motorbikes were extremely difficult to find and even then at prices totally out of whack with Indonesian norms.
Mengaya Waterfall is a small-scale waterfall which cascades down a series of short steps through intensely thick surrounding jungle. Below many of the steps are small pools great for swimming in; this may well be the first spa bath of your journey through Aceh. Although the weather in Takengon is typically not that warm, cooling off here after the journey from town is a totally refreshing experience. The visual appeal here is low on wow factor and we prefer the stunning view of the lake and nearby village from the road on the way up to the waterfall. Note that getting here by public transport is not really viable as the walk from the main road is several kilometres up a long and winding, dirt and mud road. Entry is 2,000 rupiah.
Located on the road that circles the lake about five kilometres from town is Loyang Koyo, a cave filled with bats and birds that dart in and out, clip your head and generally make things quite unpleasant. This is a popular attraction with local tourists on weekends and holidays and is certainly more fun during these times as the sheer volume of people tends to make walking through the cave more bearable. Inside the cave it is obviously pitch black, so a torch is required although the family in the house next door can provide one. Legend has it that the cave is 35 kilometres deep and connects to another village, while at the 15-kilometre mark there is a swamp and at the 16-kilometre mark are a couple of animals that have turned to stone. This cave is of passing interest should you be circling the lake, though probably not worth coming here otherwise.
Adam gave up a corporate career in 2009 and left Australia for the hustle and bustle of Southeast Asia. He now lives in Indonesia.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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