The first glimpse of this perfectly formed volcanic lake sucks your breath away as you lurch over the caldera lip and hurtle towards the first of the 44 (numbered) hairpin bends down to the lakeshore. Monkeys watch your progress from the crash barriers as the road takes you down from the lush rainforest of the highlands to the ever-expanding farms and paddies of the lowlands.
When the traveller tide receded from Bukittinggi, Danau Maninjau was left high and dry. The locals looked to more sustainable sources of income and aquaculture to fill the void. Fish farms now dot the lake foreshore, outnumbering tourists.
The lake is 460m above sea level and encircled by a 60km road. Most places of interest spread out north from Maninjau village to Bayur (3.5km) and beyond. If coming by bus, tell the conductor where you’re staying and you’ll be dropped off at the right spot.