Timor-Leste is the perfect place for hiking. The country has stunning scenery, friendly locals and a network of tracks criss-crossing the entire country. From coastal walks to multi-day village and mountain hikes, Timor-Leste has some excellent options.
Some of the most rewarding and excellent hikes in Timor are:
Timor-Leste’s highest mountain with 2963mt and the roof of Central Timor, Mt. Ramelau (is a must if you are a hike-lover. Watching the sun rise over Timor-Leste from the summit is a sight not to be missed. The hike is a three-hours steady ascent from the mountainous village of Hato Builico (at 1900 mts). It is recommended to hire a local guide to do the hike, which can be combined to a visit to the surrounding hills and also neighboring remote ethnic villages and sacred sites.
This mountain also plays an important role in Timorese culture and cult, and the top is marked with 3m-high statue of the Virgin Mary. Timorese from all over the country come here every year on 7 October to thank god and have happy thoughts.
Further south, Mt. Kablaki is one of the most unspoilt and hardly explored peaks of Timor Leste and even though infrastructure is not fully in place, yet this would be an interesting hike for an adventure seeker.
This range is formed by limestone and is located about 20 kilometers south-east of Baucau. Although lower than those in the Ramelau area, the climb here is longer to the 2377 mt summit of Matebean Mane, the largest and southernmost of the two Matebean Mountains. These mountains are the birthplace of rivers that flow to the south and north coast, and possibly the most rugged high mountains in Timor. The name means “Mountain of the death” and this was one of the last holdouts of the Fretilin forces during the Indonesian occupation wave of 1978.
The trekking is medium to hard and could be done as a two or three-day walk, or separate one-day walks with an overnight stay in the high mountain villages of Afaloeki, Ossuna or Quelicai. The later one is the base of a pilgrimage route to the mountain that is popularly followed in August and October.
Mundo Perdido (1775m) – which translates to ‘Lost World’ – is another of the country’s highlights. The peak cuts Baucau and Viqueque regions and the start of the trail is located bet between the villages of Loi Huno and Ossu. The area of Mundo Perdido is one of the largest rainforests in the country, and the territory is also home of multiple bird and mammal species.
The ascent to Mundo Perdido is a demanding trek, which takes around 4-5 hours up and down, and you will need to hire a guide to accompany you.
The ‘Horta Loop’ is a 2-3 hours circuit located just in the outskirts of Dili. It goes from Areia Branca beach (starting point at the back of Jose Ramos-Horta expresident residence) and includes the Back Beach and coastal views from the Cristo Rei statue a top Cape Fatucama.
Very few travelers visit this tranquil Timorese enclave, called Oecussi Ambeno, which is an overnight ferry trip west of Dili. Situated on the north coast, all of land borders are Indonesia West Timor. It is 27,000 square kilometers in area, with a population of almost 50,000 people.
There are vast hiking areas to explore in this enclave, including caves. The mountains here are extremely abrupt and are made up of a cemented conglomerate rock in various stages of weathering and hiking in the area requires some more professional hiking equipment. Mt Manoleu and Mt. Sapo are the highest mountain in this region with over 1,200 meters. The village of Kutet, situated three hours walk up over a saddle to the south of Oecussi town, nestles under the main mountain peaks, making it an excellent base to explore the mountains, climb to the peaks, scale some of the rock faces or explore the caves.
The mountainous tropical island of Atauro, situated thirty kilometers north of Dili in the Wetar strait, is 24 kilometers long by 10 kilometers wide. It has a population of 8000 people who mostly live in two villages on the island;s eastern side. There are only few motor vehicles in the island making from it a great place for hiking and wildlife exploration.
Atauro mountainous lays across the entire island and its highest point is Mt. Manucoco, with 995 mt. It is possible to climb the mountain starting at Villa. There are also some mountainous villages that can be visited during the trek, which are famous for their handicrafts.
How to hike in Timor
Tourism operators in Dili can prearrange some fantastic multi-day walking adventures with transport, accommodation, food and guides or alternatively, on arrival in the districts, trekking guides can be organised by enquiring at the main guest houses.
Hiring a hiking guide is a necessity as they know the terrain, hazards, cultural sensitivities and language. You are likely to find out more about the local area and it’s a great way of helping put some money into the community.
For more information on trekking check out ataurotourism.org (maps, trekking information and route descriptions – Atauro), hatobuilico.com (trekking information Hato Builico) and trekkingeasttimor.org (maps, trekking information and route descriptions – Mt Matebian, Oecusse, Mt Ramelau and Atauro)