Harau Valley is beautiful in a way that is hard to describe. Women are guarding their rice paddies sitting at the side, holding strings that are attached to pieces of plastic and cans that make plenty of noise, to keep the birds away of their precious rice. The school has a routine where the children stand in line, repeat some sentences the teachers say and than greet them personally before their day at school starts. Life in Harau Valley is simple, serene and looks like an amazing place to live between the enormous brown striped cliffs who rise up from the village. It is one of those places where you stay longer than planned.
Getting here from Tuk Tuk (Lake Toba) can be quite a struggle. After arriving in Parapat with the ferry, you get on the A.L.S. bus (280.000 Rupiah p.p.) to Bukkittingi. This is a long drive and it will take about 15 to 17 hours. (Tip: buy some motion sickness pills at the pharmacy. These ones work as sleeping pills as well.) The bus will drop you 2 kilometers out of the city Bukittinggi. From there you need to go to the busterminal, take the local red bus to get there. If you are lucky you find a bus that can bring you to Harau Village. When you arrive there, you need to take a bajac to get to your homestay.
It took us almost 24 hours, 1 boat, 7 busses (8 including the bus that said it would take us to Harau Vally, kept us waiting for almost an hour and than decided not to go) and 1 becak to get from our guesthouse in Lake Toba to our guesthouse in Harau Valley. You pay 10.000 Rupiah entrance money to get to valley.
You can take a taxi from where the A.L.S. bus stops, to Harau Village but that will cost about 300.000. We paid from Bukittinggi to Harau about 32.000 Rupiah p.p.
Another option we heard of is renting a motorbike in Bukittinggi for a couple of days and drive up to the Harau Vallay.
We saw some restaurants walking through the village but we recommend to enjoy the food they cook you at Abdi Homestay. Banana pancakes in the morning, fried rice for lunch and in the evening they prepare the traditional chicken rendang for you. Really tasteful!
We can really recommend staying in Abdi Homestay. The first thing you see when you arrive is the amazing striped cliff with a small waterfall. You'll love this place immediately!
The bungalows (150.000 Rupiah including breakfast) are situated right in the middle of the rice paddies and the view from the balcony is amazing. They are are simple but have all you need. Because it is really nice and quiet and the beds are good, you will be able to have a real good night sleep. When we woke up we saw the women and men working in their rice paddies and smiling and waving at us. A really great way to wake up, we promise you that. And the owner is the best, he's friendly, likes to joke around and makes you feel like family.
Wake up early and go for a walk. Stepping outside the bungalow you’ll find the women and men working in their rice paddies, planting new rice. When you leave the homestay, walking up to the village it is really nice and quiet. People are waking up and starting their morning routine. Washing themselves, sweeping the floors and friendly smiling and wishing you a Salamat Paggi, which means good morning. When you see the mist pulling up between the enormous coloured mountain walls, you’ll see Harau Valley at is finest. Monkeys are doing their morning gymnastics swinging and jumping between the trees and the birds are singing their song.
Go on a (motor)bike trip around the rice paddies or do a trek up to the cliffs for a mind bubbling view or when that does not fulfill your adreline needs you can also do some mountain climbing up the 100 meter high cliffs.
At night, you hear the frogs calling for their friends and going to sleep is easy in a serene place like this.