Be one of the first to travel in this captivating new country—an MTS exclusive!
MTS’ pioneering spirit continues with this exciting, multi-sport journey to Timor-Leste, one of the world’s newest countries. We are the only U. S. company to offer trips here, which means a rare opportunity to see this pristine, culturally diverse nation while it’s still unchanged by tourism. You’ll learn about the country’s moving struggle for independenceas you visit monuments to the resistance, and immerse yourself in the culture as you meet the local Timorese in traditional villages and join in their feasts. You’ll climb imposing Mt. Ramelau, the country’s highest mountain, and camp at its 9,721-foot peak. You’ll trek through ancient tropical forests on your way to prehistoric rock paintings, spot unique bird and animal life at Nino Konis Santana National Park and Iralalaro Lake, and take an outrigger canoe to sacred Jaco Island, where you can kayak, snorkel, and swim in the azure waters or just relax on the sugar-white sand. Best of all, you’ll enjoy the unique pleasure of being one of the first visitors to see this little-known country. Come be a true explorer on this new and very special MTS adventure.
6 Days of moderate hiking on uneven terrain.
3 Days easy cultural touring.
2 Days of swimming, snorkeling and fishing on remote islands
- Join MTS—the only U.S. company to offer tours in Timor-Leste—and discover the diverse cultures of this new nation, only recently open to tourism
- Trek through primeval forests on your way to sacred gardens, waterfalls, hot springs and caves, and kayak and snorkel on pristine, remote islands
- Learn about Timor-Leste’s turbulent history with our local guides, as you visit the moving Resistance Museum, National WWII Museum and Chega! Exhibition
- Climb imposing Mt. Ramelau, the country’s tallest peak, and camp at its summit
- Share in the friendly Timor culture as you join in feasts and watch traditional dances
Duration: 12 days Start Location: Dili End Location: DiliDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Welcome to Dili
Our Timor Leste adventure begins in Dili in the early afternoon, where a Mountain Travel Sobek representative will meet you outside the arrival area of the airport, and transfer you diredtly to the hotel.
Dili a charming, lazy little seaside city suddenly found itself taking the role of national capital when Timor Leste became the world's newest independent country in May 2002. The city lies on the northern coast of Timor Leste, squeezed along the narrow plains between the central mountains which run the length of the Timor and the Ombai Strait.
You will spend the afternoon on an introductory tour of Dili, visiting historic sites and landmark monuments. Visit the Statue of Jesus and Pope John Paul II lookout, the view from the statue across the bay to Dili is spectacular. Then onto the Santa Cruz Cemetery (site of the student’s massacre by the Indonesian army in 1991) and the CHEGA Exhibition and Resistance Museum where you can learn about the history of the struggle for independence.
We will then head back to the hotel before heading out for a welcome dinner at a nearby Portuguese restaurant.
Day 2 : From traditional farmland villages to Mt Ramelau
After breakfast we load up the vehicle and head out on a scenic drive up the back hills of Dili towards the central ranges of Timor Leste. This is a winding road that provides you with a bird’s eye view of the Capital city and bay as well as Atauro (Timor Leste) and Alor (Indonesia) islands. Traditional farmland villages are scattered all the way along the drive, where locals are friendly and smiling children greeting us along the road.
We will stop for lunch at the highland village of Maubisse, a small town at 4,593ft above sea level. It is beautifully situated in the mountains. Maubisse has a large Catholic church and a big market, where people from villages around the area come to trade and buy. After lunch and a walk around and Maubisse we continue our drive through this region where the climate is much cooler and vegetation resembles that of alpine country.
Arriving at Hato Builiko approximately around 3pm we prepare for our trek up Mount Ramelau. Mountt Ramelau is the highest mountain of Timor Leste, and once the highest point of the Portuguese empire. The mountain peaks at 9,721ft above sea level. A statue of Our Lady was built at the summit in October 1997 and with it, Mt Ramelau reaches approximately 9,842ft. On a clear day, both the South and North coast can be seen and on a typical day the mountain peak floats above the clouds.
We will arrive at the base camp a few thousand feet from the summit just in time to watch the spectacular sunset. Here we will set up camp and prepare dinner.
Day 3 : Summit of Mt Ramelau
An early start this morning to take an hour light trek to watch the sunrise from the summit of Mount Ramelau. Sunrise at the top of Ramelau is amazing. With clear skies you have a breathtaking view of the country. Here you’ll be literally “above the clouds”. View the sunrise coming over the peaks of the mountain range before returning to base camp for breakfast. After breakfast we will pack up camp and start our descent to Hato Builiko.
We'll transfer back to Maubisse where we'll spend the afternoon and night. We have the opportunity to walk around the village and have a chat to the friendly local people this afternoon. Maubisse is more well-known just for its striking scenery. Overlooking the town sits the Pousada, an old Portuguese guesthouse which has nice rooms, good food and great views to all sides, this is where we will spend the night.
Day 4 : Historic town of Aileu
We start to make our way back to Dili, stopping at the historic town of Aileu for lunch. Aileu which is surrounded by rice paddies and garden plots has a plethora of historical structures that are scattered throughout the town. You will also be able to sight some of the most beautiful flora and fauna while you are in this area. You would be acquainted with the history and culture of Aileu when you explore this place.
We'll also visit the WWII Australian War Memorial at Fatunaba where you can learn about the war history and the impact on the lives of the Timorese on this then colony of Portugal and neutral to the war. Return to the laid-back city, Dili for the evening.
Day 5 : Along the North Coast
Early start as we make our way to Loihuno, a town situated at the central eastern part of Timor Leste. This is a drive along the North Coast passing the cities of Manatuto and Baucau. Baucau is the second largest city of Timor Leste, set up on the limestone hills on the North coast.
On the way to Manatuto, the coast line will vary from the beach-side roads to the cliff edge ones, with a mandatory stop near the Subao for photographs. Manatuto is a beautiful village on the coast, where you can easily find clay and pottery artefacts. From Manatuto to Baucau the road goes along the plains with occasional hills where you can find Laleia with its rice paddies and Vemasse.
Stop for lunch in Baucau and after a short tour of the town continue the drive to Ossu. Past Baucau the road winds slowly upwards with Mt Matebian rising from the valley to the east and Mt Mundo Perdido towering over the road as it winds into the town of Ossu. Ossu is a town renown for being a stronghold of the resistance fighters during the Indonesian occupation of the country.
Tonight we will be warmly welcomed by local women in the village of Loi Huno and help prepare and cook a delicious traditional meal. It is a truly authentic experience, cooking over a wood fire with kids, dogs, chickens and an assortment of other animals running around at your feet. This is together with Timorese women. Learn about traditional foods and cooking techniques before eating a great meal.
Day 6 : Waterfalls and Caves
The morning will be spent hiking around the grounds, which will have us visiting waterfalls and caves. One of the more famous caves was a hideout for one of the leaders of the resistance fighters during the Indonesian invasion (1975 to 1999). Return to lunch at the lodge then after lunch we make our way to the second largest town of, Baucau. In Baucau, you have most of the afternoon to explore both the Old and New Town.
The town sits above the sea and in the Old Town you will see many examples of Portuguese buildings, including the impressive but destroyed Mercado Municipal located next to a small local market. The Church of Baucau is also located right next to a traditional Fataluku style traditional house of this district. We will also visit the New Town where most of the administrative buildings are located. There is also a large market to explore in the New Town of Baucau.
Day 7 : Nino Konis Santana National Park
This morning we will make our way to the idilic Valu Beach in Tutuala, which is in the heart of the protected Nino Konis Santana National Park. But first we will stop to see and experience the cool blue of the seas, the granular feeling of sand in your feet, the sound of the waves lapping on the sea shore and the smell of wet sand, that is Com Beach. Com is a small fishing village that has a beautiful hidden beach that has amazing snorkeling as well as walking trails.
Then we will continue the drive to Tutuala Beach driving inland via Pitileti village, through the protected Nino Konis Santana National Park and Lake Ira Lalaro. Lake Ira Lalaro is the largest lake in Timor Leste, and a favorite spot for many of the island's birds. We will have many stops along the way to observe the ancient totem graves typical of the Fataluku tribe.
Once arriving into Tutuala Beach we will get settled into the Lakomorre Guesthouse, which will be our home for the next two nights.
Day 8 : Jaco Island
This morning we trek to the Ile Kére Kére caves from the guesthouse. The trek is a one and half hour trek each way to the most significant found site containing rock paintings dating back as far as 35,000 years. The trek is through a light tropical forest with some parts rocky and steep. The district of Lospalos is an area of ancient heritage and great anthropological value with sites such as the Ile Kére Kére and Leneara caves featuring ancient rock paintings and recent findings of oldest fishing hooks dating back as far as 35,000-40,000 years.
We will return to the guesthouse in time for lunch. After lunch, we will take an outrigger (local fishing powered boat) to Jaco Island, a part of the protected Nino Konis Santana National Park, and spend time on the island, bush walking, swimming and snorkeling in the most pristine azure waters.
Jaco Islandis a deserted small island, part of the Protected Nino Konis Santana National Park situated in the eastern district of Lospalos, home to the Fataluku people. Jaco is blessed with amazingly white sand beaches, pristine azure waters and low vegetation. We can walk the beach, swim, snorkel and fish. Being lulik (sacred) land to the local Fataluku people, overnight camping is not allowed except for local men. Once a year the local tribe’s women are allowed to overnight for their secret women’s ritual.
Day 9 : Village of Maupitine
Today our journey takes us on a light safari drive around Iralalaro lake to the village of Maupitine. Maupitine is a small farming village set on the fringe of lake Iralalaro. During the safari we travel through grassy lowlands and many other small villages.
Iralalaro lake is the largest fresh water lake of Timor Leste and is set within the protected Nino Konis Santana National Park. This is the grounds for one of the most concentrated variety of endemic birdlife and other fauna around the lake and surrounding tropical forests. This lake fills up in the wet season but the land around the lake is used for farming when the water levels subside.
After our time at Iralalaro lake will we drive to the fishing village of Com where traditional weavers sell their “Tais”, the colourful locally weaved traditional cloth. Learn how weaving and basketry are contributing to community development.
Day 10 : Monkey's Lagoon
This morning we start our slow transfer back to Dili. Our first stop on the way back is a visit to fossilized monkey’s lagoon for a chance to see the giant clam fossils and the monkey community. There will be plenty of stops along the way to stretch the legs and take photos.
Day 11 : Dili Day
After several days of adventurous hiking and touring you’ll relish the opportunity to relax and take in many options in and around Dili.
Your guides will help you plan some optional activities or point out the best local hikes. But don’t worry, if you simply want to
relax and soak up the atmosphere, you’ll enjoy stretching your legs in Dili.
At the end of the day, we’ll celebrate our last night together at the local restaurant .
Day 12 : Depart Timor-Leste
Your journey of discovery in Timor Leste ends in the morning with a farewell breakfast with your guides before transferring to Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport to catch your homeward-bound flights.
DATES: Best time to go: July - September Departures: No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availablity. Call us for details.
$3,495 (4-14 members)
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.