Galela & Makate Lake


Galela is the district covering the eastern side of Halmahera’s northern tip.
It consists of two major regions. A coastal strip is stretching north of Tobelo to the island’s tip. Soasio, Galela’s district capital is also located on the coast. Inland from Soasio, the other major region, the interior centres on three volcanic lakes.
Most of the population lives around Danau Galela, the largest lake, which is surrounded by a dozen villages. This is the Galelarese heartland, where all Galelarese are thought to have originated before populating the coastal region and even other islands.

The Galelarese people are great migrants and can also be found on Morotai, the Bacan and Obi Islands, and in the Gane region of southern Halmahera. Religiously they are divided between Muslims and Christians, with the Muslims being more numerous. Unlike in other parts of Maluku, followers of both religions still speak the same language, live side by side, and there is much mixing and inter-marriage.

Large and beautiful, surrounded by volcanos and villages, Danau Galela is both very much the heart of the Galela district, and the main attraction for visitors. It is just a few kilometres from the district capital on the coast, and a road goes right around. The most scenic part of the ring-road is the bit at the foothills of the extinct volcano Gunung Tarakani (on the left of the 2nd photo). Elsewhere it may go too far from the lakeside to actually see the lake – though there are some good views from Igobula village on the southern shores, too.
For the lakeside villages, Danau Galela serves as fishing ground, source of drinking water, and a place to wash all at once! To keep it clear, using motorised boats on the lake is forbidden. There are canoes instead, but the most interesting watercraft are bamboo-rafts, widely used by Galelarese fishermen! At the village of Gotalamo on the road around Danau Galela, a side-road branches off towards the interior. Following it takes us first to Makete village, which is located on the shores of a smaller, but no less beautiful crater lake, Danau Makete. The people of Makete are Sangirese migrants from North Sulawesi, and their canoes which you can see on the lake are quite different from those of the Galelarese.

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