East Timor Discovery

East Timor Discovery

Style: PioneerGroundbreaking tours to unique destinations
Duration: 14 days
Type: PrivateExclusive departures for you, your friends and family


East Timor is a proud nation now at peace after many years of an independence struggle, a land of amazing variety with many fine examples of its Portuguese colonial past awaiting discovery by the intrepid traveller. On this tour we take in its highlights, starting in the relaxed capital Dili, a lovely place to wander around and soak up the East Timorese atmosphere. We climb up imposing Mt Ramelau, with its superb views over the surrounding area, before exploring delightful old colonial towns and spending time on the idyllic Atauro Island, home to a great eco-lodge with good opportunities for hiking and meeting local people. Heading to the east of the island, we relax on gorgeous beaches and visit remote islands before heading back to Dili. This trip shows the curious traveller the very best that this enchanting nation has to offer.

Tour Rating

Fitness ●●●●○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●○ | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●●○ | Wildlife ●●○○○

Tour Pace


Tour Highlights

  • Discover the charming, relaxed capital of Dili
  • Climb Mt Ramelau for superb views of the island
  • Spend time on the idyllic island of Atauro
  • Visit the remote Jaco Island and relax on the white-sand beaches

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Comfortable hotels, local guesthouses and one night camping
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary
Group Size: Private
Start Point: Dili
End Point: Dili
Transport: 4WD vehicles
Countries: East Timor

Tour Itinerary Notes

While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour.

Day 1 - Dili

Arrive in Dili. The rest of the time is free for you to relax or explore one of the world’s newest capital cities. Overnight Hotel Timor or similar.


With its old colonial buildings and tropical sea breezes, Dili is a pleasant and relaxed city – in fact the only city in all of the country. Originally settled in 1520 by Portuguese sailors, Dili was briefly occupied by Japanese forces in the Second World War. Neglected by its colonial master, Dili was substantially underdeveloped when the Portuguese left in 1975 and ravaged by Indonesian troops during its long and brutal occupation, but today it is emerging from its former troubles and starting to establish itself once more. The city is small – most of the main sights can be seen in a day – and pleasant to wander around, taking in the old waterfront villas, Portuguese monuments and the sights and smells of fresh fish being grilled on the numerous fish stalls. It is strongly Catholic, and contains many churches as well as the odd statue of Christ here and there. Most of the activity in Dili is centred around the waterfront, with fishermen unloading their catches and traders walking along the beach selling snacks. 

Day 2 – Dili

After a relaxing morning, we embark on a tour of the capital city. Dili still sports a few Portuguese reminders like the villa-lined beach roads, the former colonial garrison built in 1627 and the church built on the waterfront. But new shops, restaurants and bars are opening all the time, bringing a new energy and style to this once sleepy city. Overnight Hotel Timor or similar. (B)

Day 3 - Aileu - Maubisse – Hato Builico

After breakfast, drive southwards to Dare and Aileu. We continue to Maubisse, where we will visit the Traditional Village of Hatufahe and reach Hato Builico in the afternoon. We then take a moderate hike to Mt Ramelau, where we camp. Enjoy a leisurely evening BBQ in a wonderfully tranquil setting, at the foot of Mount Ramelau (2,963m), the summit of which is our destination for tomorrow. Overnight camping. (BD)


Maubisse is located in the main coffee growing region of East Timor, and is surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. Its market is an important meeting place for villagers from miles around, and contains a wonderful old Portuguese guesthouse, now converted into a hotel.

Day 4 - Mt Ramelau - Dili

Our climb (moderate trek) starts at 6am to ensure we reach the summit, weather permitting, for the most spectacular of sunrises. We spend time enjoying the magnificent views before starting our journey back down. After our descent we head back to Dili. Overnight Hotel Timor or similar. (B)

Mt Ramelau

At 2963m Mt Ramelau is the highest peak on the island of Timor. A couple of hundred metres below the summit is an area where open air religious gatherings are sometimes held. The peak is marked by a statue of the Virgin Mary, and from the summit there are superb views in every direction. With petrified trees and early morning mist, this is truly a magical place to experience as the sun rises over East Timor.

Day 5 – Atauro Island

We travel by local ferry or water taxi to Atauro, a coral island, 30km across the Wetar strait. During the crossing we hope to see schools of dolphins and pilot whales (it is said locally that sightings occur on nine out of ten 10 crossings). There will be time to snorkel and to see some fine coral and marine life before staying overnight at the island’s eco-resort. (B)

Atauro Island

Atauro, a majestic mountainous island across the Wetar Strait from Dili, offers you a unique holiday as guest of the community : sleep in the cabins at Nema Resort on the shoreline of a quiet and beautiful bay, wake to the sun rising out of the sea and move slowly through the day – after fresh Timor coffee, local fruit, crusty rolls and wild honey walk on unspoilt beaches, snorkel on beautiful and diverse reefs that fringe the island, glide up the coast in a traditional outrigger, hike through mountain forests and villages, watch community life around you, or just curl up with a good book and let the world go by.

Day 6 – Atauro Island

A full day to relax and enjoy the island. Spend your time on the beach or snorkelling among the pristine coral. (B)

Day 7 – Dili - Baucau

We return to Dili by local ferry and join our 4WD vehicles to follow the stunning coastal road to Baucau.

Depending on our group size we plan to stay at the colonial Pousada de Baucau. Alternatively, we stay at a comfortable and very welcoming local guesthouse. (B)


Baucau is East Timor’s second town, a delightfully laid back town with many old Portuguese buildings, palm fringed beaches and gorgeous sunsets. Previously named Vila Salazar after the Portuguese dictator, much of Baucau suffered during the struggle for independence. Baucau is also a major religious centre and the home of the Bishop Basilio Nascimento, a legendary Timorese regional and national leader. The town is split into two parts, the Old Town where many of the old colonial architecture can still be found, and the New Town, which functions largely as an administrative centre.

Day 8 – Venilale

We head inland through some wonderful mountain scenery, passing rice paddies on terraced hillsides before reaching Venilale. The town is known for its Portuguese architecture, particularly the ‘Escola do Reino de Venilale’ that we visit. On our return to Baucau, time permitting; we visit the Fatumaca Catholic School (school visits subject to local confirmation). Overnight at either the Pousada de Baucau or a good quality guesthouse. (B)

Day 9 – Laga - Lauteem - Lospalos

We continue our tour, first heading east to Lospalos, home of the Fataluku people.We will visit Nunira Traditional Village in Laga and the the ruins of the old Fort in Lauten. Overnight at Hotel Roberto Carlos in Lospalos  (B)

Day 10 – Lospalos - Tutuala - Jaco Island

After breakfast we travel to Tutuala, and the IIi Kere Kere caves, East Timor’s most important archaeological site. The walk from the road to the caves can be hot and difficult but it is worthwhile to see the fascinating cave paintings, which have been dated at more than 13,000 years. From the cliff top position of Tutuala we have superb views of the uninhabited Jaco Island. Local fisherman will take us the short distance across to the island. Overnight at Lakomorre Resort or similar. (B)

Day 11 - Jaco Island

A full day to relax and enjoy the laid back atmosphere and serenity  at Jaco Island. Overnight at Lakomorre Guesthouse (B)

Day 12 - Jaco Island - Tutuala – Com

Morning departure to Com past traditional Graveyards and Pitileti Rocky Village on the way down to Com where we also visit the Fossilized Lagoon before lunch. After lunch will be a free afternoon to stroll around the village visiting traditional weavers.   Overnight at Kati Guesthouse (B)

Day 13 – Dili

A morning departure by road to Dili, with a stop en-route at Canossian Training Instituite and Development in Baucau  or St Anthony's Statue on the hill with a view of Manatuto. We have the afternoon in Dili to relax, before you are invited to a typical Timorese dinner at a local Dili restaurant.  Your last evening in East Timor will be a memorable one and a fitting end to your adventure. Overnight Hotel Timor or similar. (BD)

Day 14 – Dili

Tour ends. (B)

Arrival and departure transfers
All accommodation
Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

International flights
Any airport taxes
Travel Insurance