|Elevation:||2,372 m (7,782 ft)||Prominence:||2,045 m|
|Ribu category:||Spesial||Province:||Timor Leste (East Timor)|
|Google Earth:||kml||Other names:||Often spelt ‘Matebian’. Some maps suggest that nearby Matebean Feto is the highest mountain in the range but this is untrue.|
One of the wildest and most rugged mountain ranges across the entire Indonesian archipelago, the Matebean mountains are quite unlike any other in this part of the world and have a fascinating yet bloody recent history attached to them. Some websites suggest that Matebean Feto (‘feto’ = female in local Tetum language) is the higher of the two but it is actually the case that the more southerly Matebean (often spelt ‘Matebian’) Mane (’mane’ = male in Tetum) is the true summit of the range.
Getting to the starting point at the hamlet of Uaiboro/Waiburo/Oeiboro (1,200m) is quite time-consuming and rather difficult in a regular vehicle. A 4WD or motorbike can get up there, but for most the little town of Baguia (400m) is the place to leave one’s vehicle and find a guide. From Baguia to Uaiboro is a straightforward 2-3 hour walk, with right turns at the junction in Ossahuna (800m) and then another right turn sharply up the hillside opposite a traditional house (970m). To reach Baguia from Baucau takes at least 3 hours, the key junction being at Laga on the main road between Baucau and Lospalos about 45 minutes eastwards (or 18km) out of Baucau. Baguia lies a further 43 kilometres along rough farm tracks. Limited public transport from Baucau bus terminal to Baguia on trucks with tarpaulin is irregular but possible for those with time on their hands. Expect it to take 4-5 hours and require extreme patience.
Very little English is spoken in the Baguia area, but basic Indonesian should help you get hold of a guide (best attempted between March and October – read comment below regarding an attempt during the Xmas/New Year period that didn’t go quite to plan). A notable ruined building on the right side of the road at Hiberi about 2 or 3 kilometres before Baguia is the “Escola do Reino de Haudere”, a Portuguese school destroyed in the 1940s.
Once in Baguia itself you will notice further ruins on the right which, according to Trekking East Timor, is ‘complete with battlements and dungeons. This was the district administration centre, where in 1959 the last uprising against the Portuguese colonizers took place with bloody reprisals against the Timorese’. Basic accommodation can be found in Baguia for those not wishing to camp or seek shelter at the church hut on the mountain itself. This is the last spot to get basic supplies such as snacks and water.
7km further on is Ossahuna, where you must take a sharp right turn up to a rather vague junction opposite a traditional house. The trail proper begins at Uaiboro beyong the col between the cliffs of Matebean Mane and an outlying crag summit called Mount Ossasama. Thousands of Timorese fled here during the Indonesian invasion and bodies remain hidden in numerous caves on the mountainside.
The following information is taken from Trekking East Timor:
“Walk south from the village through vegetable gardens and rocks, sidling (following the hill around staying fairly level) gently uphill with a fall away to the left. Continue south-west and onto the spur that leads up to a saddle just south-west of the mountain peak altitude 1390 meters. Turn a little to the right and walk up the spur past many limestone rocks.
You will probably hear and see some of the farmers at work in their gardens. Climb over a rocky thorn-covered fence used to keep stock out of and above the village gardens. The farmers in this area have later crops than lower down the mountain due to the colder climate at this altitude and extra cloud and rain. Walk past many thatched huts and houses and then into open eucalypt woodland with lots of moss and lichen attached to the sharp fluted limestone outcrops.
There are many tracks crossing and going off at angles. It would be very easy to get onto the wrong one, even with good visibility. It would be impossible to walk here in heavy cloud without a local guide.
During 1977–78 many people died in this area in battles with the Indonesian military. Aircraft came from Kupang bombing and strafing throughout the morning. At lunchtime the aircraft would land at Baucau, and the attack would resume in the afternoon.
There was also navel shelling from the south coast.
Approximately two kilometers up from Uaiboro, bearing 250d, the track climbs above the tree line at around 1900 meters . Care is needed in this area as the eroded track is hidden by long grass up to a meter high. At around 2000 meters and directly south of the mountain top, climb over a natural-looking limestone fence into short grazed grassland. There are many bomb craters.
The track passes over caves inside of which are the bodies of Timorese killed by the Indonesian bombing. Large rocks have been jammed down to close the entries.
At 2080 meters is an area of huge fluted limestone outcrops. In the mist this looks like some long lost city. The track levels and swings north. On the right is a wooden church and storeroom. During October many people come here for a religious festa. This building could be used as a refuge if necessary.
The top of Matebean Mane is now less than a kilometer away to the northeast, with a steep walk up to gain these last 250 meters of altitude. The start of this climb is on a bearing of 40d. Zigzag up amongst the rocks and be careful not to touch the broad leafed plants as these can cause itchiness. The route then goes up through open grass meadows among huge monoliths of fluted sharp limestone. and sweeps around to the right for the final 100 meters ascent to the statue at the top.
The views are truly stunning with a feeling of being on the top of the world or in a helicopter. On a clear day Tasi Feto (feto female) = north sea, and Tasi Mane (mane male rough = southern sea are clearly visible. The 4.5 kilometer walk from Uaibaro 1170 meters below takes about five hours for a reasonably fit person, including lunch and snack breaks.
The top of Matebean is often shrouded in cloud. To get the view may require a one or two hour wait on the summit. The clouds often roll in mid morning. My mobile phone was getting reception via Baucau from the top of Matebean Feto and Matebean Mane.
In dry conditions the walk back will take about two and a half hours. When wet the rocks on the track become very slippery and there is a real danger of a fall with perhaps serious consequences. The walk back down to Uaiboro in wet conditions could take from one to one and a half hours longer. You really do need to make an early morning start.”
Information by Dan Quinn (January 2014), with text describing the hike from Uaiboro to the summit from Trekking East Timor written by John Bartlett.
|Getting there||3 hours from Dili to Baucau by bus. 5 hours from Baucau to Baguia by truck. 2-3 hours from Baguia to Uaiboro on foot. Therefore if you have a small group and/or sufficient money it is best to hire a 4WD and driver in Dili.|
|Accommodation||There is some very basic accommodation in Baguia. Alternatively stay at the bright orange Tato Toti in the old town area of Baucau just down from the Pousada and camp one night on the mountain itself.|
|Permits||Not usually necessary but best call in at the police office in Baguia for a friendly chat. Be advised that locals may prevent you from climbing in cloudy weather or at certain times of the year.|
|Water sources||There will be some available at Uaiboro/Waiburo/Oeiboro (1,200m) which is the final hamlet.||Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):|