From the Mountains to the Coast
Complete Timor-Leste Itinerary
Culture, History, & Nature
A Coast to Coast Exploration of Timor-Leste
Explore the still unspoiled beauty of Timor-Leste. From the traditional markets and villages in the mountainous coffee region to the charm of local fishing villages and spectacular white and black sand beaches on the coast. Expect a variety of vegetation, wildlife, and culture as many communities have their own traditions and language. Your local guide will translate for you and get you access to authentic experiences with local people.
Hike up Mt Ramelau to see the sunrise from the summit
Visit the coffee-growing area in Maubisse
Visit traditional rural villages and learn about the local way of life
Soak in hot springs and explore ruins in the mountains
Explore a variety of terrains; river valleys, idyllic beaches, & mountains
Visit sites that reveal Timor-Leste’s complicated history
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US $1,720 Per PAX + tax
The minimum required to run the tours – 3 Pax
A hotel in Dili (the name will be confirmed before arrival)
Every day from April to October (dry season)
Minimum 3 people – maximum 10
- 10-day tour & transfers (fully guided)
- 4WD vehicle
- Vehicle backup service
- English speaking tour guide
- Local guides
- All entrance fees
- All meals
- 9 nights accommodation
- Personal and miscellaneous spending
- Travel insurance
What to bring
- Lighter clothing for the day and warmer options at night
- A hat to protect you from the sun
- Waterproof jacket and/or trousers
- Comfortable walking shoes/boots
- Cash is recommended as ATM machines don’t always work
- Credit/debit cards are not widely accepted
- The local currency is US dollars
About your guide
1 x tour leader
1 x local guide & driver
Good to know
- There will be basic sanitation at guesthouses, cold mandi showers, and occasions when guests will need to use a bush toilet
- We advise guests to carry sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and antiseptic gel/wipes
- Always have sufficient drinking water at all times as dehydration is a risk in the tropics
- Be sure to carry small change 50c – $1 coins, US $5 – $10 notes in Timor-Leste
- We advise all guests to arrange travel and health insurance
Day by Day in Detail
Once you have met your guide and the group and have settled into the hotel, we’ll embark on an introductory tour of Dili. Get to know the capital of Timor-Leste by visiting museums such as the Resistance Museum which details the country’s struggle against the Indonesian occupation. We’ll also climb up to the city’s famous Cristo Rei statue for spectacular views across the city and the bay as the sun sets.
On day 2, we’ll leave at 8 am to start our journey by car to Hatubuilico. We’ll weave up the winding road towards our first stop, Aileu. Expect spectacular landscapes such as rice paddies scratched into the expansive river valleys, ridged mountain valley walls, and views of the tropical island of Atauro. Aileu is a historic market town that played an important role in the resistance movement. These days the traditional markets draw in locals and tourists alike, with local produce such as coffee (this is Timor-Leste’s coffee-growing region), fresh fruit and vegetables, and tobacco.
Next, we’re back on the road heading towards the next stop, Maubisse. The rustic roads will show you how unspoiled Timor-Leste is, as will the thatched-roof houses that make up small mountain villages. Many people live without the amenities of modern-day life and as a consequence have carefully preserved their cultures. In the heart of the coffee-growing region lies Maubisse, the perfect place to take in the views of the mountains. In this town, we’ll visit the Pousada, a former government rest house and a prime example of Portuguese colonial architecture. Once we’ve had lunch, we’ll visit a local community in one of the hilltop villages and learn about rural life and Timorese traditions. After that, we’ll continue our journey to our destination Hatubuilico, where we’ll arrive at approximately 16:00 and stay the night in Alecrin’s Guesthouse.
Today we’ll be climbing the highest mountain of Timor-Leste, Mt Ramelau sits 2963 meters above sea level. As well as being magical for its misty morning sunrises, this peak is also the site of an important Christian pilgrimage. We will be hiking in the dark and cold temperatures (wear warm clothes) but the sunrise spectacle is well worth the effort.
03:30 Transfer to the starting point in the sanctuary car park
04:00 Start the climb up Mt Ramelau
06:15 Expected arrival at the summit
06:30 Expected sunrise (subject to weather conditions)
07:30 Start descending back to the base
09:00 Expected arrival at the base and transfer back to the guesthouse for breakfast
Around 10 am, we’ll start the transfer to Same, the capital of the Manufahi municipality. We’ll be leaving the mountains behind us and heading back to the coast, be prepared for meandering mountain roads and picturesque scenery. We’ll see mist gathering around the mountains and lush green river valleys below us as we weave our way through coffee plantations.
Your guide will relay the local myths and legends around Fatuk Maromak, a road built by the Japanese Imperial Army during their occupation. We’ll pass through villages such as Leosati and Holarua before arriving at Same, a city that was once the epicenter of an anti-Portuguese rebellion in the early 20th century. Tonight we’ll spend the night at Hotel Uma Lirai, a guesthouse known for having one of the best pools in Timor-Leste and an excellent restaurant.
Back by the beach, we’ll follow the coastal road stopping at a quaint fishing village, Betano, then through inland villages like Hatudo and Zumalai. You’ll get the chance to spend time on sweeping black sand beaches and to explore the different vegetation here on the coast compared to the mountains.
Your guide will highlight the area’s extensive history, especially when you arrive at the town of Suai, at the center of the Covalima municipality. You’ll visit the old Suai prison ruins and the Black September ‘99 Memorial in honor of the 200+ civilians who were killed by Indonesia militia. The Covalima municipality borders Indonesia and the Timor Sea, it covers an expansive area with different terrains such as steep hills, wide river valleys, and green coastal flats. The coastal stretch is home to unique marshland habitats and, as a consequence, a variety of wildlife. Most people living in Covalima speak Tetum Terik or Bunak. We’ll stay the night at the Eastern Dragon Hotel.
Today we’ll head back into the mountains to travel up to the north side of the island. We’ll start by heading for Bobonaro where we will visit a traditional weaving village to learn about a key element of East-Timorese culture. Learn how threads are tie-dyed in the futus method and then handwoven with a wooden loom to create unique designs.
Next, we’ll make our way to the Marobo hot springs, where you can relax in the warm waters of the pool surrounded by mountains. There are also ruins in the area which you can visit. Once you’ve dried off, we’ll head to today’s final destination, the town of Balibo. This area suffered greatly during the war for independence, partly due to its location near the Indonesian border. Balibo was 70% destroyed by militia violence and the setting for the assassination of the Balibo Five in 1975 (5 Australian-based journalists).
We’ll spend the night in the Balibo Fort Hotel, a historic mountain retreat with privileged views of both land and sea.
We’ll start our day by hiking to the caves in Balibo, the area has many trails and a short hike is a great way to start the day. Next, we’ll say goodbye to Balibo and head to Batugade to see the northern border point at Mota’ain. We’ll then continue our journey along the northern coast, crossing the Lois River and arriving at the village of Maubara. The village is famous for its historic Dutch fort at the entrance which overlooks the sea and is a remnant of the Dutch occupation in the 1700s. Maubara is situated on the coastline of the Liquiça municipality, the beaches that border this region are particularly beautiful and are home to pristine coral reefs which attract snorkelers and divers from all over the world.
Our final destination of the day is the coastal city of Liquiça, where most of the inhabitants speak Tocodede. The city has a rich history and was the site of the Liquiça Church Massacre. Most of the city’s buildings were destroyed in the period before the independence referendum. Tonight you’ll spend the night at Lauhata Beach Resort.
Day 7 is a chance to take in more of what the northern coast has to offer. After breakfast, we’ll head to Ai Pelo prison which was built in 1889 to receive prisoners from Macau where cells were overcrowded. We’ll pass through salt-producing villages and travel on coastal mangrove roads until we arrive back in the capital Dili. We will take a short break in the city before continuing east towards Manatuto.
You’ll be treated to magnificent views of the ocean and white-sand and marble rock beaches as we pass through Hera and Metinaro. See the dramatic landscapes created when the rugged mountains meet the coast and marvel at areas which have remained unchanged for centuries. After Manatuto, we continue on to Timor-Leste’s second-largest city, Baucau.
This hilltop city is divided into the Old Town with Portuguese colonial architecture and sea views, and the Indonesian-built New Town. Tonight you’ll spend the night in the 50s, colonial-style Pousada Baucau.
Day 8 marks our visit to the rainforest, we’ll be heading to the south coast of Timor-Leste which receives higher rainfall than the north and as a consequence is covered in dense forest and numerous rivers. We’ll drive through vibrant green scenery and get great views of Mt Matebian. You’ll have the option to hike up Mt Mundo Perdido (a 3-hour hike) which is a protected area due to rare and abundant plant, bird, and animal life.
After breakfast, there is an option to hike up either Wassadiga or up to Labalou Résistance old command posts from the time of the Indonesian occupation. Late morning, we’ll return to Baucau where we’ll have a late lunch before continuing on the trip back to Dili. We’ll arrive back in the capital late afternoon and will spend the night there.
It’s time to say goodbye! We’ll take you to the airport in plenty of time for your flight home.