Nearly 800 meters above sea level, surrounded by boundless stretches of bright, green rice paddies as far as the eye can see; against a backdrop of gently sloping mountains, seemingly a shade of blue; here lies a vast expanse of calm, clear waters, dotted sporadically by small fishing boats gliding along its surface. This is Lake Kerinci, the largest of 15 lakes in the Kerinci district and the second largest in Sumatra afterLake Toba.
It spans 4,200 hectares and reaches a depth of 110 meters. A number of stone megalithic relics have been discovered in the small villages scattered around the shore of Kerinci, some dating back to 2,000 years ago. The presence of these ancient standing stones shows this area as one that has been inhabited for thousands of years. The lake is located at the foot of Raja Mountain in the Kerinci District, Jambi Province, on the island of Sumatra.
The beauty of Kerinci has long been associated with legends. One such legend tells of twin orphan brothers, Calupat and Calungga, who found shelter at the foot of Mount Kerinci. Two precious stones had been given to them by their late parents; a ruby and a pearl. One day, while hunting alone, Calungga came upon a giant egg. This egg was meant to be brought home and shared with his younger brother, Calupat, but instead, Calungga ate the egg alone.
Immediately afterwards, Calungga was overcome with extreme thirst. He ran to the river which flowed near Mount Kerinci and drank until the river ran dry. But yet his thirst was not quenched. Suddenly, his body began to change. He grew larger, longer, developing golden scales along the length of his body. Calungga had transformed into a giant dragon with the gem stones he had been given embedded in his head. Dragons, as we know, are magical creatures, and so to test his powers, Calungga appealed to the gods of the earth. He wound his snake-like body into a large circle and begged the gods to fill that shape with water. The gods obliged, creating Lake Bento at the foot of Mount Kerinci.
Unable to live alone, Calupat asked the dragon to bring residents to his valley. A powerful wind then blew against Lake Bento forming an estuary and causing the river to flow downstream to the east. Lake Bento was again left as an empty valley, and a new river was created: Lake Kerinci. With the presence of the lake, people began to settle around its banks. Upon visiting this spot today, you can still see the shape of Calupat sitting upon the head of a dragon.
When visiting Lake Kerinci, some of the “must try” local dishes are gulai ikan semah (fish curry,) lemang (a traditional snack made of glutinous rice and coconut milk wrapped in banana leaves and roasted over the fire), jeruk pelompek (the oranges produced in Pelompek village), dendeng beteko (a local beef jerky), and of course, sample the Kerinci Coffee and Kayu Aro Tea.
As a fishing community, there are many restaurants around the area where you can try some of the tasty dishes made from the freshwater fish of Lake Kerinci while enjoying the fresh air and natural scenery.
A variety of small stalls are positioned around the Lake Kerinci area selling a selection of local snacks and tantalizing dishes made with the day’s catch.
Songket is a traditional woven textile, made of silk or cotton, skillfully hand-woven with a variety of complex patterns. Songket requires highly artistic individuals and is created through a time consuming process, which sets the price of such fairly high. The usual price for a piece of this fabric woven with silver or gold thread is approximately 1,200,000 Rupiah.
Of course, the usual souvenirs like t-shirts can also be found here.
The shopping area of the city is located at Jalan Kolonel Amir Hamzah No.4
No accommodations are available around Danau Kerinci, so lodging is best in Sungai Penuh, capital city of Kerinci District – but do not expect to find any sort of luxury hotel. Budget hotels and guest houses in Sungai Penuh are simple, but comfortable and provide good service.
Lake Kerinci is a peaceful place where visitors can enjoy a variety of recreational activities such as fishing, swimming or camping. Sample the tasty local dishes in the small restaurants surrounding the lake, or simply relax and enjoy the cool air and lovely scenery.
The Kerinci community is comprised primarily of fishing villages, and fishing boats can often be seen sailing across the waters. Some unique forms of fishing are also observed, such as the traditional free diving fishing which is done at night.
There are several elevated vantage points around the lake where visitors to the area can relax and revel in the panoramic beauty of the picturesque surroundings from above. These are of course great photo spots for those who come by to immortalize this moment in their adventure.
Tanjung Hatta is a spot where Bung Hatta, first Vice President of Indonesia spent time relaxing in the calm of nature, surrounded by leafy trees and the cool lake.
Visit Selaman Village, one of the small villages on Lake Kerinci’s shore, and observe the Laheik Kerinci, which are the typical traditional homes of the region. Pulau Tengah Village is the location of other significant icons of the area, such as Keramat Pulau Tengah Mosque and Dolmen Batu Raja, an ancient megalithic structure. Several other carved stone structures are scattered throughout the territory, the last remaining traces of a timeless era and an unknown civilization.
The two closest cities toSungai Penuh, capital city of Kerinci District, are Jambi and Padang.
Getting to Sungai Penuh from Jambi city takes about 10 hours by car over a distance of approximately 500 km. This can be done using public transportation or rental car. Jambi airport serves just Jakarta andBatam.
The alternative route through Padang is much faster, at a total distance of under 300 kilometers. Sungai Penuh can be reached via public transport, car rental or private car, and should take between 5-6 hours. Minangkabau International Airport in Padang serves Jakarta, Medan,Pekanbaru, Batam and Kuala Lumpur.
The lake is located in the Kerinci Valley, about 16 kilometers from Sungai Penuh.
Plan your trip around the Festival Masyarakat Peduli Danau Kerinci, a tourism event exhibiting a collection of cultural activities and art from Kerinci District. The lake festival presents traditional dancers from Kerinci as well as other regions, music on traditional instruments, a parade displaying various styles of traditional clothing, a food competition for local dishes and snacks from Kerinci and the surrounding provinces and much more. A host of activities are also available for spectators to participate such as water sports and races. The festival occurs in a different month each year.