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Ermera is in East Timor. The once-former capital of the East Timorese community is situated in one of Timor's most beautiful highlands.


Get in[edit]

The road through Ermera to Bobonaro is the most scenic and rugged in Timor-Leste's western highlands. It is not for the faint of heart but will take you through some amazing landscapes and villages. It will be difficult to find accommodation or even food along the way unless you speak Tetum or have a guide, however the entire 8-10 hour drive to Maliana on this road (not advisable in wet season) can be very rewarding if you are intrepid enough.

West of Dili, keep going south at the Tibar T-junction. The road (very good) will wind through tranquil valleys and over heavily-forested mountains. After 35 min, it reaches the wide valley where Gleno, the district capital, is located. This may be your last chance for warung food (there is one in the market). After Gleno, the road quickly gets worse as it winds into the mountains, often flanked by coffee trees and with views of Ramelau on the left. After about 1.5 more hours, you will have passed the turnoff to the actual town of Ermera (few roads or towns are signposted - often you can take the road in the best condition but sometimes this will be the wrong one; take a map and ask locals regularly) and will reach the beautiful village of Atsabe, which has stunning views over the valleys. There is at least one decent guesthouse here (two-storey greenish building with a big balcony overlooking the valley) that charges $25 for basic rooms with shared crappy bathrooms and, between the dogs, pigs and chickens, will give you the noisiest night's sleep of any village in East Timor. It might be hard to get in unless you can speak Tetum. It will also be hard to get food - there are no restaurants so the guesthouses usually provide food.

After Atsabe, the road is good for a while but as it approaches the Bobonaro ridge, it becomes shockingly bad. There is a left turn-off to Zumalai and Suai (about 3 hours further) but if you go straight, you will continue along the windswept ridge where, on a good day, you can see the south coast in one direction and Ramelau in the other. Shortly before the viewpoints is a right turn-off with an arch - this is the way to the Marobo Hot Springs, about 30 minutes down a steep rocky road. First you will find the ruins of a Portuguese resort, which are great for exploring and looking down over the valley. Then the road will end and you will have to cross a ditch to reach the springs, which collect in a pool that you swim in if you're brave enough (the water is very hot but it is possible). Local families maintain the pool and will charge a very low amount for use, and more if you want to get slathered in sulfuric mud by the kids.

The road then drops down into Maliana - about 3 hours' drive from Atsabe.

View from the guesthouse in Atsabe village, Ermera district

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