10 days in East Timor
Our 10 days in East Timor were great. It is not a very heard of destination and definitely not the first place someone would think to visit. Yet it is a beautiful small country on an island shared with Indonesia, rich in history and a culture to be discovered. It only became an official independent country in 2002 after being in the hands of the Portuguese, the Indonesian and the UN.
Dili (3 days)
Even though it’s the capital of Timor, it’s still a very underdeveloped capital city.
- Scuba dive in Dili Rock, some people have spotted a dugong here
- Watch the sunset at the Cristo Rei
Before we left to East Timor, we contacted everybody and anybody we remembered had either lived there or visited because we had no idea what to expect. This turned out to be the best decision ever because once we arrived there we were received by friends of friends making the experience really unforgettable. It was by far the best way to get to know the city and its best spots and the best places to eat or go out and also to get to know incredible people.
Maubara (1 day)
Maubara is a small village about an hour away from Dili. It has a nice beach and a fort that on the weekends has a small crafts market. The village itself is not very special but the drive there is amazing, and a great way to see a bit of Timor outside of the main city.
- Visit the Ai Pelo old prison
- Drive on a motorbike and enjoy the scenery of the brand new road from Dili to Maubara
On our way to Maubara we stopped for a drink at the Blue Rock Hotel. We were approached by the owner asking if we wanted a free pedicure because her staff was practicing it so they could offer the service in the future. We ended up having our pedicure done by a very nice man who didn’t have a clue about how to do a pedicure, but still, points for the initiative.
Atauro (3 days)
Atauro is an island in front of Dili, 41 kms away from the shore. It used to be the place where the prisoners were sent to during the war and it is said to be a sanctuary for scuba diving because of its super diverse wild life.
- Visit the Bonecas de Atauro factory and watch the seamstresses working on the dolls
- Sleep at the Cooperativa and try their homemade gnocchi for dinner
- Walk across the island from Beloi to Adara to see the deserted beach on the other side – get a ride to the drop off point on the top of the hill and start from there
- Scuba dive around the island
Doing the 3-hour walk across the island is much harder than it seems. We underestimated what locals told us and went on the hike very unprepared, thinking it wouldn’t be that difficult. Half of the way is actually going up, there isn’t any shade and almost no villages along the way. On the way back we were running out of water, but luckily we found this small village where no one spoke a word of English or Portuguese, but through sign language we managed to communicate with a lady that gave us water and called the entire village to come see the “Portuguesi”!
Jaco (3 days)
Jaco is an islet at the very eastern tip of East Timor. There are a couple of guest houses inland and during the day you ask the fishermen to take you to the deserted small island. Jaco is a sacred island, very respected by the locals, people are allowed there during the day but cannot spend the night.
- Rent a very good 4x4 jeep and make sure you go with someone used to driving in extremely bad roads
- Try the delicious grilled fish form Jaco. Before crossing to the islet, chose a fish from the fishermen stock and ask them to bring it to you at lunchtime
- Snorkel around the little island and be aware of the very strong tide
The road from Dili to Jaco has a little over 200kms but it takes 8 hours to do it. We went to Jaco on the weekend with our “Timor family”, and some of them had done that road dozens of times. Still, we managed to have a flat tire at night in the middle of nowhere, to overheat the engine and to have a water leakage in the car. Jaco is hard to get there but really worth the trip, it is one of the most remote places we have ever been to, beautiful and completely deserted.