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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 after Lake 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 Kerinciand drank 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.
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.
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 and Batam.
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.