- Elevation: 2,417 m (7,930 ft)
- Prominence: 1,970 m
- Ribu category: Tinggi Sedang
- Province: Nusa Tenggara Timur
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: Nuaf Nefomasi
Gunung Mutis is the highest peak in the East Nusa Tenggara province. It is situated within a surprising alpine landscape and offers views from Timor Leste to the north to the clouds above Darwin to the south. The initial part of the trek is through rolling forest glade and open paddocks before climbing up to the peak itself. It is an easy hike and the landscape is very different to what is usually seen on Indonesian mountain trips.
The summit can be reached in 3–4 hours starting from the man-made lake (1766m) 8km beyond the village of Fatumnasi (1,527m) which is about an hour inland from Soe via Kapan. A guide is essential – not because the climb is particularly challenging, but because the trail is not clearly marked. It is best to begin as early in the morning as possible because the peak usually clouds over by mid-morning. Suncream is a good idea because although there is shade for much of the hike, certain sections are very exposed. Encounters with any other trampers are unlikely, though you may spy some locals while traversing the paddocks. The trail initially leads along a rocky road though a fairytale woodland landscape which opens out into a large hillside paddock, complete with cows and horses (owned communally by the Fatumnasi villagers). The rolling hills are easily negotiated, with a small wetland being the only obstacle to the next batch of forest. A small path winds up and through the forest – more like the typical sub-tropical rainforest to be expected at this sort of altitude – and again opens up into another field.
At the top of this field you find yourself on a grassy ridge with excellent views in all directions. There are a few small cairns (piles of stones) which apparently mark the graves of some Dutch people who lived in this area many, many decades ago. Look out for the lovely pyramid peak of Fatu Timau which is on your left as you follow the top of the field in the direction of the tree-covered peak of Mutis itself. Beyond this field is the Batu Pintu (1,888m), which is basically a large rock where a small offering is left to ensure a safe final ascent of the actual peak. It is revered by local people so please respect it. A typical offering might be some betel nuts, which are totally adored by people in this area so it is presumed that the spirit in charge of the boulder will like them too!
The final section is the most challenging part of the hike, as the path is reasonably steep and occasionally exposed to strong winds on the ridges. About an hour later you’ll reach the first high point (about 2,370m) and be afforded stunning views – provided the weather plays its part and you aren’t enveloped by clouds. You should be able to see the north coast of the island, back down towards the limestone cliffs and crags near the trailhead and eastwards over the valleys of central Timor towards the main border with East Timor. A five minute walk will take you to the true high point where a small monument and sign are situated.
The return route is the same as the ascent and before you know it you will be back in Pak Matheos’s traditional house, unable to refuse yet another large meal!
Bagging information by Pete Ryan and Merrin Rutherford. Updated by Daniel Quinn.
- Getting there: Plenty of transport between Kupang and Soe – just ask at your hotel. Angkots can be taken from Soe to Fatumasi – timetables are irregular though so it would be a good idea to allow some time to get there. The road is not great in places, but surprisingly good in others, if you have hired your own car – however driving in the dark makes the drive more arduous. Follow the signs from Soe to Kapan and then to Fatumasi. An ojek from Soe to Fatumnasi costs about Rp50,000.
- Accommodation: The Lopo Mutis Homestay in Fatumnasi run by Bapak Matheos Anin and his family is wonderful (Rp75,000 per person for accommodation and 3 meals). They also arrange a guide – either pak Matheos, his son Steve or another relative (Rp50,000), and a jaga (to keep watch) for your car if you are self driving (Rp50,000). They can also provide motorbike taxis to the starting point – this takes about 30 minutes.
- Permits: Not required.
- Water sources: None on the hike. There are a couple of very small warungs in Fatumnasi but it is better to buy sufficient supplies in Soe or Kapan before you hike.
- Travel insurance: We recommend World Nomads insurance, which is designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities including mountain hiking.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):
Origins and Meaning
Mutis means ‘the flow of water’. (Gabriel Faimau, 2011)