East Timor is a small country in Southeast Asia, washed by the warm waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Its territory is covered with high hills, dense forests and savannas.
Things to do in East Timor
East Timor has a rich culture and interesting history. Large settlements appeared here thousands of years ago. The aborigines were engaged in gathering, farming and developed trade with neighboring islands. Europeans discovered a new land in the 16th century. These were the Portuguese Catholic missionaries who colonized the area.
East Timor gained independence from Portugal, but after it was occupied by Indonesia. The invasion was accompanied by protests and repression. In 1999, the UN held a referendum, as a result of which the country finally became free. Its economy is based on oil and gas production, agricultural production and pearl fishing.
The tourism industry is poorly developed — military conflicts have destroyed the infrastructure of cities. Foreigners are scared away by the lack of good roads and hotels. Most often, lovers of adventure and “wild” recreation come here.
On the one hand, the country is washed by the Timor Sea, which is part of the Indian Ocean. There are no prestigious resorts here, but clean beaches are covered with fine sand, surrounded by eucalyptus and coconut palms. Coral reefs run along the coast, making these places ideal for diving and exploring the seabed.
Local people are friendly to guests. In coastal towns, it is easy to rent a boat to fish and explore the islands scattered in the sea. In the villages, you can plunge into the life of the tribes, see traditional Timorese dances, buy handmade woven bracelets, baskets, and seashell jewelry.
Dili is the capital of the state, located in the north of the island of Timor. It is the cultural center and main port of the country, which is decorated with Portuguese houses of the colonial era, Catholic churches and monuments.
Along the main city square stands the governor’s palace. In the center stands the Unification Monument, dedicated to the struggle of the Timorese people for independence. The monument is a figure of a man in traditional clothes with broken chains on his wrists.
Dili has some of the best shops and restaurants in East Timor. Tourists relax on the beaches, snorkel, watch marine animals.
The state consists of several islands. One of them — Atauro — has an area of 140.5 km². The area is covered with hills and eucalyptus forests. The largest city is Maumeta, which has good hotels and markets selling seafood, fruits and souvenirs.
During the colonial era, there was a prison in the vicinity of Maumet. Now it is closed, and the island performs a tourist function. The coastal waters are great for diving, and there are birdwatching and exotic plant-watching trails through the forest.
The uninhabited island of Jacou is part of the Lesser Sunda Islands and has a mountainous landscape. A piece of land with an area of 10 km² is considered a reserve. The coastline is dotted with white sand and lined with coral reefs. Swimming in the water, you can see blue moray eels, seahorses, bright tropical fish, giant turtles, dolphins.
There are no hotels on the island. Tourists usually arrive by boat early in the morning and leave in the evening. To stay with an overnight stay, you need to bring a tent and everything you need to relax with you.
A limestone cave near the city of Lalea has given the world amazing archaeological discoveries. The remains of people who lived 44,600 years ago were found here. In a cave at an altitude of 86 meters above sea level, human bones, fossilized fragments of animals, birds, as well as artifacts used for hunting, shell jewelry have been preserved.
Architecture and museums
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
The main temple of the Roman Catholic Church in Timor appeared in Dili in 1988. Indonesian authorities allocated 235 thousand dollars for its construction. The majestic building is considered the largest in Southeast Asia. The temple for 2 thousand people is lined with white plaster, decorated with arches and a rose window. Next to the church is a bell tower with a gabled roof. In front of the entrance stands a white sculpture of the Virgin Mary.
The central attraction of Dili is the 27-meter statue of Jesus Christ, installed in 1997. It took a year of hard work to create it. The sculpture is assembled from several parts cast from copper. The sculpture, built into the globe, stands on a high mountain near the seashore. Christ spread his arms and looks at the city.
There is a chapel inside the mountain. And to climb to the monument, you will need to overcome 500 steps.
A Balinese Hindu temple is easy to find in Dili near the local market. It was erected during the period of Indonesian occupation for immigrants arriving from Bali. The sanctuary in a traditional Hindu style is framed by a concrete fence and decorated with multi-colored ornaments.
The main temple is decorated with wooden figures of deities and mythical animals. In the courtyard there is a garden and covered gazebos for relaxation.
Timorese Resistance Museum
The Resistance Museum opened in Dili in 2005. The exhibition, which tells about the struggle for independence from Indonesia, is housed in a beautiful colonial-era mansion. The exposition highlights the history of the occupation of the country and shows how the Timorese resisted the occupation.
The museum was created to perpetuate the memory of war heroes and preserve important documents. It contains an archive containing documents, audio materials and photographs.
Tatamailau is a mountain in East Timor. The height of the massif, located 70 km from Dili, is 2986 meters. The picturesque slopes are covered with tall grass and eucalyptus trees.
In 1997, a three-meter statue of the Virgin Mary was installed on the mountain, to which a well-equipped trail leads. To see the sacred sculpture, pilgrims from all over the country come to the feast of the Annunciation. There are other routes on Mount Tatamaylau — the most difficult ones take several days and require appropriate equipment.
A beautiful freshwater lake on the island of Timor lies in a mountain valley. The coastline stretches for 6.5 km and is surrounded by virgin rainforest. During the rainy season, the lake overflows, forming a wetland.
The pond is inhabited by Australian pelicans, whistling ducks, kingfishers, green doves. In the coastal zone, there are crocodiles and snake-necked turtles, which are on the verge of extinction. People come to Lake Ira Lalaro to fish and enjoy the natural landscapes.
Nino Conis Santana
Nino Conis Santana National Park was established in 2007. It covers an area of 1236 km², which includes mountains, evergreen forests, swampy valleys, wild beaches. The jungle is home to olive parrots, cockatoos, flycatchers, monkeys and snakes.
There are 6 ethnic villages in the park. Local residents work in the reserve and are involved in the tourism business. Rock paintings of ancient people depicting wild animals and ritual scenes have been preserved in the mountains.