Around 75,000 years ago (give or take a couple of millennia), a supervolcano erupted on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, throwing out so much ash that it created a volcanic winter lasting several years. The eruption was so massive that the volcano collapsed under its own power, creating the caldera we now call Lake Toba.
At over 100 kilometers long and 30 kilometres wide, Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake in the world. A small team of Googlers spent the last two months scouring every meter of its coastline, using a Street View Trekker mounted on a boat, to collect gorgeous 360-degree imagery around this former supervolcano.
It may have been a fiery pit of lava in the distant past, but today, Lake Toba is a lush Indonesian rainforest, home to an abundance of native animals like orangutans and tapirs. We weren’t able to catch any of these creatures in the imagery, but we did get a lot of other natural attractions.
Lake Toba looms large in the imagination of the Batak, the people who have inhabited the area for centuries. According to Batak legend, a fisherman caught a fish that turned into a beautiful princess. She married him on the condition that he never reveal her true origin. One day, in a fit of impatience at their son, the fisherman called him a son of a fish. When the princess heard her husband had broken his oath, she told her son to climb to the highest peak in the area. She prayed and it began to rain so hard that the resulting flood created a huge lake. The peak, which her son was on became the island of Samosir, revered by the Batak in the area as their original home. The princess? She went back to being a fish!