Situated at a cool altitude of 1300m up in the hills, around two hours from downtown Medan, Berastagi makes for a great two or three day retreat. This bustling town boasts a healthy agricultural economy and its markets are usually interesting hives of activity. Berastagi’s real attraction, however, is its mountain trekking. The area is dominated by the twin volcanoes of Gunung Sinabung to the west and Gunung Sibayak to the north. Both of these easily accessible volcanoes are a day’s hike a piece and are surrounded by lush forests and wildlife. After you’ve tramped up Sibayak, why not recharge your batteries at the hot springs on the main road?
Sinabung, at 2450m, is even higher than SIbayak and offers even more stunning views from its summit. You may wish to consider taking a local guide with you on this one thought as it can be a little tricky at times! Buses run around the bases of both of these behemoths, so getting straight onto the hiking trails is relatively easy. The rest of this area, known as the Karo Highlands, is also worth exploring and features traditional villages and Batak architecture aplenty.
Back in Berastagi, the colorful Tugu Perjuangan is located in the centre of town and commemorates the Batak’s struggle against the Dutch in the 1800s. When you’ve seen that, why not try some beetle nut at the market? The leaves, paste, tobacco and red nut are all purchased together, mixed on the leaf, rolled and chewed. The paste also contains lime for a little added kick. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, snake, lizard and dog meat can all be found on Berastagi’s menus!