East Timor – 4 mountains

East Timor – July 2018 – PROFILE

Call for Registration

Contact Nick Hughes, nhbhughes@gmail.com

Dates: ETA Dili, Saturday 14 – ETD Dili, Friday 27, July, 2018

Weather: June through October are the driest months in Timor.


  • climb Gunung Ramelau (2,963 m) – highest peak in East Timor; easy; night climb for sunrise at summit
  • trek Gunung Mundo Perdido, ‘lost world’
  • climb Gunung Matebean Mate (2,372 m) – serious climb for the fit and strong
  • trek Gunung Manucoco (+/- 980 m), trek on island of Atauro
  • en route: visit places of natural beauty and cultural/historic interest.

No camping on mountains. Experienced trekkers/travellers.

Gunung Ramelau (2,963 m)

Mt Ramelau is the highest peak in Timor Leste and is of deep religious and cultural significance. Adorned with a statue of the Virgin Mary at its peak, Ramelau is the site of an annual religious pilgrimage.

The trip from Dili to Hatobuilico (1,920 m), a beautiful hillside town surrounded by high mountains, takes 4-5 hours along 100 kms of rough roads. Stay at the Alecrim guest house. The climb is quite easy; about 1,000 m taking 3+ hours. Night climb, wake-up at 02:00 to be at the summit for sunrise. Excellent views. Return to Dili this day.



Gunung Matebean Mate (2,372 m)

Matebean Mane is a special mountain for the people of Timor where the spirits of the deceased reside, so show respect when on the mountain. Moreover, it was on this mountain that the resistance against occupation from 1975 maintained their stronghold. Matebean Mate, the southern peak, is the ‘male’, while the northern and smaller of the two, Matebean Feto, is the ‘female’.

“During 1977–78 many people died in this area in battles with the Indonesian military. Aircraft came from Kupang bombing and strafing throughout the morning. At lunchtime the aircraft would land at Baucau, and the attack would resume in the afternoon. There was also navel shelling from the south coast. There are many bomb craters. The track passes over caves inside of which are the bodies of Timorese killed by the … bombing. Large rocks have been jammed down to close the entries.” (Trekking East Timor)

Dili-Bacau currently takes 5 hrs (road under repair) then 4WD to Baguia (5 hrs). Rabilai losmen overnight. The trek begins here. Very early start. This is a serious climb is for the fit and strong. Additional guides will be arranged for slower members of the group.

Baguia (approx 394 m) to Uaiboro (1,210 m) is a 3-4 hr steady climb. Uaiboro is the highest village tucked in against the massive east face of Matebean Mane. Views of the Timor Sea to the south-east are great.

The climb from Uaiboro to the summit is another 1,162 m, 4.5 km, 4-5 hrs. At 2,080 m is an area of huge fluted limestone outcrops. During October people come here for a religious festival. The summit is about a km further on with a steep climb up the last 250 m.

Total vertical ascent from Baguia to summit is about 1,564 m and 7-9 hours. The descent is likely to be in the dark. Camp second night at Rabilai and return to Dili the next day. (GPS ‘expert’ in the group should verify details of the climb, and record the track for posting on the Gunung Bagging website.)



Gunung Mundo Perdido

Mundo Perdido (‘lost world’) is a Protected Area comprising an isolated mountain massif in central-east Timor Leste, and includes the largest remaining area of closed-canopy tropical montane forest on Timor Island. The upper slopes, rising to 1,760 m, have been protected from agriculture by their steep, rocky (karst limestone) terrain. Mundo Perdido is an interesting bird area with some 63 species recorded. It is also considered one of the three most important sites for conservation of orchids in Timor Leste.

Mundo Perdido offers excellent trekking through the tropical forest including waterfalls, caves, etc. Eco-style accommodation is available near the trekking area.

Pulau Atauro – Gunung Manucoco (approx. 980 m)

Pulau Atauro is a small island off the north coast of Dili and best known as a tourist resort. “Peace and tranquillity of a naturally beautiful, simple and unspoilt part of the world: walk, swim, diving, read, sleep, meditate, dream; eat fresh vegetables, fruit and seafood; breathe fresh air. Climb to the highest peak on Atauro – the summit of the sacred Mt. Manucoco – pass through grasslands and rain forests, mountain villages and traditional gardens.”

http://trekkingeasttimor.org/?page_id=79 – for description of the Gunung Manucoco trek.

We will spend two nights on the island in a local resort, and trek/climb Gunung Manucoco (one full day), with plenty of time on the first and third day to relax on the beach.

Oecussi Enclave (optional extension)

The Oecussi enclave lies on the north coast of Timor island within Indonesian West Timor. Few travellers visit Oecussi given its remoteness. After the Portuguese took the port of Malacca, in the Malacca Strait, in 1511, they arrived at Lifau just west of Oecussi town in 1514. This was to be their capital for more than 100 years.

“Because of its isolation Oecussi suffered greatly during the violence of 1999. … The local population took refuge in the mountains. Many would return at night to gather food from their gardens, and then return to the mountains in the morning. This continued well after the UN forces had arrived in the rest of East Timor.

“A 17 year-old lad named Lafu volunteered to take a message to the UN in East Timor, informing them of the terrible situation in Oecussi. A note was concealed in his thongs. He then walked, with much harassment, through a hostile West Timor and delivered the note to INTERFET. Some days later they helicoptered him back with communication equipment to report the movements of TNI and the militia during the INTERFET landing. Lafu has become widely known as the ‘Oecussi boy hero’.” (Trekking East Timor)

The view from the sea at sunrise, of the jagged mountains behind the town, are apparently dramatic. Mt Maonmuti, the highest mountain, is less than 1,300 meters. The locals speak of many caves and deep rain forest gullies. The village of Cutete, 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.

Trekking East Timor describes a three-day trek. http://trekkingeasttimor.org/?page_id=71  Depending on time available, and noting that we will not have camping gear, we will need to decide later, in consultation with guides, on what is feasible .

Two ferries, twice a week, and a ‘fast’ boat daily except weekends, ply the Dili-Oecussi route. Desirably, we would stay two full days in Oecussi to trek into the hinterland roughing it, possibly, in the village of Cutete overnight. Details of the ‘extension’ are subject to confirmation re ferries/boats as well accommodation and guides. This, in turn, will determine the date of departure from Dili to Bali/Darwin.