On the far-flung eastern fringes of Indonesia, isolated and somewhat forgotten, the Island of West Timor escaped the infrastructure boom in which it’s similar counterparts could not. Deep inside the remote island, far from the water’s edge, are small inhabited villages whose daily lives have seemingly been frozen in time. Frozen steadfast in the era where beehive huts are homes, magic men speculate outcomes, headhunters still roam and rituals are conjured. Lands of home-grown, hand-woven cloth, drooling red grins, obscure customs and cruel, arid mountains. Cradled deep within the ranges are three ancient villages accessible to foreigners, they are well worth your time.
Firstly, we strongly advise you take a guide. Not just a guide who can speak english but a guide who can speak the local dialects of the village people (Dawan, Belu and Tetun). Certainly you can reach any of these villages by public transport but, and this is a very big BUT, this is considered disrespectful to the tribes folk who do not like foreigners coming on their own. Speaking with them through a translator we were encouraged to spread the word that the villagers feel awkward, uncomfortable and somewhat used when foreigners waltz in unattended. Without being able to ask the chief permission to enter the tribe, find out the sacred areas where photography is forbidden or even perform the etiquette of the tribe, you are simply disrespecting their culture. I strongly urge you spent a little more money to use a guide and keep villagers accepting foreigners into their world. Plus with a translator you too can get the most out of your experience.
Lavalon offers guides from 300,000 rupiah p/p per day (expenses not included). Note: Aka (based in Kefa and Kupang) is a decent guide but tends to over talk. He speaks the local dialects of Dawan, Belu and Tetun well enough and can adequately rant in English. Vil is around the same price and comes highly recommended.
Contact for Aka: email@example.com or try his mobile +62 (0)852 5346 3194.
The only guide in Soe is the Prince, Pae Nope who has his own transport and offers an all-inclusive tour. He admits he is the only guide suitable to take tourists and is a fantastic guide however we were left sorely disappointed with his services (If you would like to read how we were “royally screwed over” feel free). I strongly recommend you choose another guide. We have heard of other complaints from solo female clients also.
Mr Sipri is a lovely man who is a breath of fresh air. Kind hearted and eager to please we would strongly recommend Sipri as a guide. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
None (pronounced non-eh) is the most cultural village of the three and the one not to be missed. As mythical is it comes, the warrior village of None contains the last living descendants of head hunters who continue to live by their ancestors traditions. When you visit you will surely come across the quirky mid wife, the village sermon (magic man) and the chief whose parents presented skulls to the king in order to maintain their status as warriors.
Temkessi is a small, barely inhabited village in north of Kefamenanu. The word cute best describes Temkessi which is nestled in a valley between two cliffs. What really makes this trip worthwhile is actually the spectacular scenery you must pass to get there as the village is lifeless and somewhat abandoned. I must press that the landscape on the drive from Manufui to Temkessi is one of the most beautiful views, if not the best, in West Timor.
Boti, the tribe of culture, is the most authentic experience of the three and the only village within which you can spend the night. Disconnected from the nearest town by an adventurous 45 minute drive enables this tribe to remain unblemished from the outside world; just the way they like it. Completely self-sufficient, with no help from the government or new age technologies including electricity, Boti continues to live as their ancestors have done many hundreds of years before them. Other than a short textile demonstration in the morning, you are left alone to freely wander and soak in the daily life of the tribes folk. For travel information read out how to get to Boti page.
Soe– Aside from Kupang, Soe is the only town you will see in West Timor. It’s a hub in which you can attain a guide, make transportation changes, find decent accommodation and lots of restaurants. If you are headed to any of the more remote villages you are certainly going to pass through Soe and while it might not be a hotspot for tourists it still possesses a certain charm.