Located in the central highlands immediately to the south of Dili, Aileu includes very steep forested ridges – some lush with tropical vegetation and others dry and rocky, covered in sparse eucalyptus trees and grasses. Beautiful rice paddy ribbons run along the river valleys between the steep slopes making a colourful contrast with the mountain ranges behind.
On the winding road from Dili, travellers often stop to capture the expansive views down to the winding rivers far below and out to the northern coast with Atauro Island in the distance. Apart from the villages located close to the road and on ridge tops, others are hidden from view by the steep terrain and forest.
Going further south into the municipality the road from Dili eventually drops down to a very picturesque fertile high land valley and the bustling market town of Aileu. If it is market day, take a break and see all the fresh vegetable and fruit on display, plus coffee, tobacco and other local produce. There is a small freshwater lake to the town’s west. Continuing on south towards Maubisse the countryside starts to feel even wilder and more remote. The views are magnificent and in the wet season enjoy the wild flowers along the roadside. Traditional thatched roof villages can be seen in the distance, either linked by road or walking track.