Twin Lakes, Indonesia

Lake Locations:

Indonesia -

Also known as:  Lake Diatas, Danau Diatas, Upper Lake, Lake Dibawah, Danau Dibawah, Lake Below

West Sumatra’s Twin Lakes is one of the lesser-known tourism locations in Indonesia. Those who think that Indonesian vacations mean hot, steamy weather will find the Twin Lakes a cool and refreshing treat. The two lakes, formally named Lake Diatas and Lake Dibawah, are located at a high enough elevation to assure much cooler temperatures and a more pleasing environment for Westerners unaccustomed to humid jungle conditions. Both lakes were naturally formed from ancient geological upheaval and are located approximately 5,000 feet above sea level. The names are usually translated as Upper Lake and Lake Below to describe their elevations, but those familiar with the area point out that the route to Upper Lake appears to go downhill, while the Lake Below route seems to travel uphill. The names are correct, however, as Lake Diatas is located at 5,023 feet elevation and Lake Dibawah at 4,797 feet. The two lakes are only about 1,000 feet apart and are 144 feet and 1,014 feet deep respectively.

The Twin Lakes are located in the Highlands east of the West Sumatra capital city of Padang. The chief economic activity around the two lakes is coffee plantations, while the cooler climate is ideal for growing potatoes, peppers, cabbages, passion fruit, flowers and other organic offerings. The village of Simpang Market is located along the shore of Lake Dibawah. Several small ‘homestays’ and guest accommodations have sprung up around the lakes to offer lodging to an increasing number of visitors. The West Sumatran government is attempting to promote the area as a resort location, a move that will likely lead to better transportation systems to accommodate travel in the near future.

Currently, roads in the area are rough and unimproved. Public transportation buses are unreliable, so a rental or hired car is the best option for getting around. Although only 65 miles away, an automobile trip from the City of Padang to Twin Lakes takes about three hours, due to the curves and somewhat tricky driving conditions. For now, the area is still quaint and quiet, with the native population living much as they have for generations. Fishing is available on the two lakes, but there is no information as to what species are caught. Both lakes also offer a number of boat tours, usually operated by local residents. The lakes are often shrouded in mist rising to meet the surrounding green hillsides and providing nature’s air conditioning. Those uncomfortable in the humid lowland areas will find welcome respite at the lakes. Lunch at one of the several coffee shops lakeside provides an enjoyable view.

Located in the Solok district, Twin Lakes offer a variety of interesting activities within short distance by car. Mount Talang is an active volcano located nearby and can be seen from the Twin Lakes. The volcano last erupted in 2005, spewing several inches of ash over the villages nearby. Mount Talang is of interest to botanists as it is the home of a rare species of pitcher plant, the Nepenthes talangensis. Photographers travel to Mount Talang hoping to get a picture of the unusual plant in flower. The Solok district contains several spectacular waterfalls which are at their tumultuous best during the rainy season. The small city of Solok is known to have several local restaurants that are prized for their unique cuisine and will excite the gourmet’s taste buds.

The City of Padang is on the coast and known for deep sea fishing, beaches, water sports and international trade. Visitors arriving at the airport can hire a car to take them to Twin Lakes. There are several five-star hotels and resorts in Padang, with plenty of restaurants and entertainment venues to keep visitors busy round the clock. The third-largest city in Sumatra, Padang has nearly a million inhabitants. Due to extensive trade with China, Padang has a thriving Chinatown with many small restaurants and spice shops. Cruise tours to the islands off the coast are popular as are trips to Bungus Bay. Snorkeling fans can catch a minibus to Bungus Bay from Padang, then enjoy a short boat trip to nearby islands with excellent coral reefs. There are a few hotels and guest cottages located at Bungus Bay. Just north along the coast, Air Manis Beach is considered an excellent place to learn to surf as there is less coral and more sand to cushion the inevitable wipe-outs for the beginning surfer. Surfing instructors are available. Pasir Jambak Beach is a few miles north of Padong along the road to Bukittinggi, everyone’s favorite cultural stop.

The City of Bukittinggi is a mixture of cultures, with much evidence of Sumatra as a former Dutch colony. The native Minangkabau culture has overwritten part of the original Dutch architecture with their own particular soaring roof peaks and symbolic buffalo horn crowns. The Clock Tower presented by the Queen of Holland still stands, its original domed tower now replaced after independence with the buffalo horn style. Excellent views of the city can be seen from the site of the 1820’s Fort De Kock, with some relics of the Dutch force still on site.

Bukittinggi also holds a couple of small museums, and Panorama Park anchors its southern edge. The Park overlooks Sianok Canyon, an awe-inspiring natural landscape consisting of a 325-foot deep canyon between steep walls 650 feet apart and stretching over nine miles. Here, too, is the entrance to the series of underground fortifications built during WWII by the Japanese using slave labor-a complex never put into use due to the surrender of the Japanese. Nearby, a military museum holds relics from the Sumatran war for independence against the Dutch, the attempted coup by Communists in 1965, and Indonesia’s war against the guerrillas in East Timor. The Cultural Center offers performances of Minangkabau traditional music and dancing every evening.

A flair for traditional crafts and spectacular artisan products is the trademark of Sikek, about ten miles from Bukittinggi. No trip to Twin Lakes would be complete without a trip to Sikek to look over the wares. Known for wood carvings and woven textiles, the town also produces paintings and wood furniture. A number of natural destinations will please nature lovers, from Anai Valley Nature Reserve to the Bung Hatta Forest Reserve. The Anai Valley Nature Reserve holds a protected section of dense tropical forest with three waterfalls and diverse flora and fauna. Bung Hatta Forest Reserve was formerly the Setya Mulya Botanic Gardens and holds examples of Rafflesia arnoldi, the largest flower on earth. The flower is commonly known as the corpse flower due to its strong odor of decaying flesh. Both of these natural havens are located between Padang and Bukittinggi.

Hiking, camping and river kayaking are also available in West Sumatra. Those not staying at Twin Lakes will find multiple small hotels and ‘homestays’ in nearly every small city or larger town. Experienced travelers warn that luxuries such as hot showers and western standards of cleanliness are not necessarily to be expected at every location. The wise traveler books accommodations and travel arrangements with an experienced travel agent who knows the territory. West Sumatra is one of the few undeveloped places on earth and deserving of a place on every world traveler’s bucket list.

*Statistics listed are for Lake Diatas only.

Things to do at Twin Lakes IND

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Kayaking
  • Snorkeling
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Waterfall
  • Museum

Twin Lakes IND Photo Gallery

Twin Lakes IND Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 3,038 acres

Shoreline Length: 12 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 5,023 feet

Maximum Depth: 144 feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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