Marobo hot springs in Bobonaro district - land of fabulous landscapes in Timor Leste
I made this 2 days trip to Morobo hot springs by motobike at Easter 2016. I greatly enjoyed the road across this spectacular mountainous region - one of the most beautiful in East Timor. Heading out of Dili at around 8 am I passed by Batugade, Balibo and Maliana and I was held up by holiday ceremonial processions in different villages, hence I arrived to Morobo around 16:00 which was quite late so I had to stop for the night at a guest house in Batugade which was OK but too expensive to my concern - 30$ a night incl. breakfast (which I swapped for dinner)
On my way back I enjoyed very refreshing morning bathing in the sea and an amazing breakfast at the Maubara Fort restaurant.
The biggest issue of this trip is the road condition which worsens significantly after Maliana. 4wd is highly recommended although I met an Indonesian family in Morobo that arrived by minivan.
TIMOR LESTE - THE UNEXPECTED ROADTRIP
While being hosted for some days with a local family in the capital of East Timor, I met two young guys that are family members. We randomly decided that we are going to go for a road trip because they wanted to show me where they grew up and some places of their country. Beautiful scenery , simple and happy people and amazing hot springs. Check the video out for more :D
Places Visited :
1) Muara Loes , East Timor
2) Maliana City
3) Marobo Village
4) Marobo Hot Springs
5) Balibo Fort Hotel
Jaco/Jako Island in Timor Leste - snorkelling in uninhabited paradise.
So this was the long awaited end of my Motorbike South Coast Tour. A great reward for this crazy exhausting but unforgettable trip. The island is tiny and cute but the road from Tutuala to the beach with boats is the worst in Timor. Only 4WD cars can pass. My motorbike withstood the challenge and took me up and down that ugly trail.
I am not the biggest fan of desert islands because they are all the same and I've seen quite a few of them. I find them all quite boring for a long stay because there is nothing to do but swim and fish. I tried to hike across Jaco but there are no trails and I quickly got lost and panicked which forced me to turn back. I snorkelled for about 2 hours and went back to Tutuala.
While the island is nice it not any different from many thousands of islands around Asia in Thai, Cambo, Viet which are in addition much more easily accessible.
So I would say it's not worth a special visit but if you find yourself somewhere in Lautem district you can give it a try.
Oh, and the prices are disgusting for transport and accommodation. The boat commute to the island is 10$ and it's like 700m. It's more expensive than to Atauro. Locals are obviously corrupted by the few tourists that come here and became greedy. Very simple and basic bungalos at the beach with toilet outside are like 20$ which is ridiculous cause it's not even on Jaco. In Cambodia I stayed in a bungalo on an paradisiac island for 5$ a night with a shower and toilet INSIDE.
I ended up staying in Pousada de Tutuala for 15$ a night for a tiny room with a floor bed no furniture. Other rooms were also super expensive considering their more than average comfort.
With the current situation I don't see any perspectives for Timorese tourism industry to win the competition for customers with other destinations like Bali, Thai and Cambo. The service is not worth the money locals ask here and you always feel a bit disappointed.
I for one have no intention to visit Jaco again. I saw it once, got mostly disappointed and will never come back.
My advice: if you have about 2-4 weeks of vacation and are entertaining different options - look closely at Thailand or Cambodia, they're as exotic and lovely as Timor, have got fantastic diving spots, but are cheaper with better service.
p.s. Timorese Ministry of Tourism must resign. They are a bunch of lazy old farts.
Motorbike trip to Ramelau - climbing the highest mountain in East Timor
I made this 2 days trip by motorbike on the 29th Dec 2015 just before the New Year's Eve.
The climb started at 3-30 am and lasted around 3 hours so that we could meet the dawn on the top.
In spite of the rainy season I was lucky to have a spotless sky above with billions of stars and the bright moon. We used no torches but had no troubles with going up. Having a certain climbing experience I may call the climb to Ramelau quite challenging, as the slopes sometimes are rather steep especially at the top. It was also freezing cold with a strong wind at the summit so that I couldn't stay there too long and my hands without gloves grew numb.
Still it was very exciting and the views are magnificent.
I stayed at Pousada Alecrim - very basic accommodation but for a reasonable price, with nice staff, and close to the mountain.
Magnificent Ira Lalaro lake in Lautem district by motobike, East Timor
I happened to visit this spectacular area at the beginning of rainy season, when the lake was out of water after dry season. I hence failed to reach the open water which was far from the banks and hard to reach because of much mud around preventing me from advancing further.
The lake is famous as the major habitat of crocodiles in Timor Leste. I am really eager to come back here after the rainy season when there's plenty of water and to see the crocs.
Amazing motobike trip in Timor Leste: Mota Loes - Balibo Fort - Batugade - Indonesian border
Another great weekend around Timor Leste full of discoveries and great moments to remember. Although very tiny, Timor Leste has plenty of places to see at the weekend.
The 2 biggest problems for tourism development now are - lack of good transportation and crazy prices for accommodation. The hotel in Balibo fort, which is not even a 3***, offers rooms for 90-130$. For Asia it's absolutely unreasonable and that's why the hotel is empty all of the time. A local poorly looking guest house in Batugade was 25$ a night which is ridiculous as well. It doesn't help tourism development and it doesn't contribute to local communities.
One Dollar Beach near Manleu - one of the best beaches in Timor Leste.
It's around 40 min driving from dili. This site is good not just for swimming, but also for hiking and snorkelling and picnics. The infrastructure has been redeveloped and is kinda new although I for one don't fancy the style of the new concrete double-deckers. The old bamboo huts were cozier and more authentic.
Discover Tiris Maunmera - spectacular waterfall near Laulara, Dare in Timor Leste.
I found this place by chance - just made a right turn from the main road to Aileu and went on straight until the last village where the road ends and where you should park the bike and walk down through the village along a narrow winding trail with breathtaking views. I took a local boy as a guide for 5$ and he was very helpful because the trail was quite difficult and sometimes confusing.
But it was worth the pain in my thighs. The waterfall is beautiful even though it wasn't rainy season and the river wasn't full. There was a group of young TImorese arrived from Dili that were a bit too noisy. I've made all this way not to listen to shitty music from shitty loudspeakers of their shitty phones accompanied by random bursts of yelling.
So my advice - go on week days.
Climbing Matebian 2316 m. (Matebean Mane), Baguia - second highest mountain in Timor Leste.
It's a sacred mountain for locals and very important for the whole nation because during the Indonesian occupation Timorese insurgents fighting against the Indonesian government were hiding in these mountains under the command of the current president of the country Taur Matan Ruak.
The tour guide was a scam. Charged me 40$ which is crazy for Timor, considering that I paid 15$ for climbing Ramelau, it is a low rainy season and the last tourists he saw were in October. Well this fucker doesn't deserve to have more tourists. And his English is at zero level.
On the way back the guide threw away an empty plastic water bottle straight in the grass. If this is such a sacred mountain, then have some respect. Disgusting. Don't use this guide.
The weather was very kind to me again and in the middle of the rainy season gave me a clear sunny day! This climb turned out to be much more difficult than I expected. On the way up I had 2 or 3 times of weakness when I wanted to turn back.
Oh! And there's sooo much mint growing on the slopes. The whole mountain literally smells minty and you breathe in this fantastic air.
This mountain is much farther from Dili than Ramelau, more hardly accessible with no proper accommodation nearby. They proposed me to stay in the village near Matebean, but the houses there have neither bathrooms nor toilets. Very basic conditions. I also didn't want to stay for the night there because local young guys showed me cut throat moves with their hands when they saw me arrive. Fuck those stupid villagers.
The best and only option remains in Baguia, where you have a chance to get a simple but cozy room at the church. Just go to church and ask for Mana Martina (works at the church) who alone does more for the tourism development than all the local communities, guides and authorities taken together. The most welcoming lady.
Lovely Atauro island Saturday - Dragon boat, saturday market in Beloi, Manukoko, Boneca
Atauro (Timor Leste) is an Island in about 2 hours drive from Dili by speed boat. The ticket is 10$. Atauro is a part of Dili district but is in fact the poorest region in Timor Leste. Enough to say that for the 2 days I spent there I was asked for money 3 times, which never happened in any other districts.
Atauro is struggling to attract more tourists and is developing slowly. New accommodation is being built. But in general is far from a nice place to stay long time: low quality services, not very hospitable locals, dusty roads, not much to do, few cafes/restaurants, poor choice of decent accommodation for a reasonable price and poor connection to Dili.
Dragon boat which is made for rivers doesn't look very safe especially in case of big waves, and inside of it the exits are so narrow, that if any accident happens all the passengers will drown not being able to escape this trap of a boat.
Big boat Berlin Nakroma allows you to bring a motobike to the island which is good since the public transportation in Atauro (which is not that small) is very bad and super expensive - 2$ for a short roofless tuktuk ride is ridiculous. Berlin commutes to Atauro only once a week on Saturdays arriving in the late morning and leaving in like 3 hours which is only enough to see the Saturday Market in Beloi. If you want to stay longer with your bike then your only option is to spend the whole week in Atauro until the next Saturday when Berlin comes again. In 1 week in Atauro I would die of boredom.