- Elevation: 1,774 m (5,820 ft)
- Prominence: 1,143 m
- Ribu category: Kurang Tinggi
- Province: Nusa Tenggara Timur
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: Nuaf Timau
Fatu Timau is a beautiful little mountain that appears pyramid-shaped from many angles. It’s one of the easiest Ribus to bag as its only about 400 metres from the carpark to the summit. Unlike most mountains in Indonesia, that are volcanic, mountains in Timor are non-volcanic. If climbing Fatu Timau sounds like an easy day out from Kupang or Soe, think again because it takes about 3.5 hours from the Takari turn-off, on the main highway between Kupang and So’e, in a strong vehicle to reach the mountain. Few foreigners and even locals visit this area so don’t be surprised if they are bemused to see you!
A 4×4 vehicle is really the only way to reach this mountain given the deplorable state of roads. Or, if brave, go by motor-bike. A guide is not necessary. Ensure that the driver knows the Takari turn-off on the highway, and the road to Lelogama and, further on, to Amfaoang. After Amfaoang, and passing through spectacular rolling hills, you reach a T-junction with a small shop on the left-hand corner. Stop here for a coffee and catch up on local news about Fatu Timau. Beyond this point, the road is obvious as the mountain comes into view. Currently, the road is in a disastrous state of repair and deteriorates seriously after Amfaoang (some intermittent road repairs – 2015!). Low-ratio 4WD is required in several places.
Given the state of the roads, Fatu Timau might be regarded as a mountain only for the fanatical, yet with the incredible scenery – rolling grassy hills, horses and cattle grazing on pastures amongst the hills, traditional Timor villages of huts, locals chomping on betel nut – it makes for an excellent day out into the wilderness of West Timor. Highly recommended!
Eventually, you will reach the highest point of the road (1,432m) that skirts the mountain. This point is obvious when you reach it! Park your vehicle here. The climb to the summit of Fatu Timau is just over 1.5 hours from here. However, getting started can be problematic – follow the advice below.
From the highest point on the road, walk back down some 40 meters to a small gully. Here, you should be able to pick up a cattle track that leads up to the left (look for trees we blazed – June 2015). After several hundred metres, you might be lucky to pick up another cattle track that leads you back to the right and onto the main ridge leading up to the peak. With luck, if the cattle tracks are clear, you should be able to avoid most of the undergrowth and rock out-crops at the start of the climb. The cattle here are smart – they know the easiest way up the mountain – follow their tracks and dung wherever possible.
After about one hour, you will emerge onto the open, rocky mountainside (1,655m). (Make a mental note of where to re-enter the undergrowth for your descent.) The way upwards is zig-zagging over broken, limestone rocks to the summit. Again, the cattle know the easiest way up the mountain so follows their tracks wherever possible.
The summit of Fatu Timau is rocky, no trees; it offers wonderful, unimpaired, 360 views from the east to west coasts of Timor, Gunung Mutis, the highest peak in West Timor, is visible to the north. Fatu Timau is crowned with a broken cement trig pillar. The metal geodesy marker on a nearby rock had gone missing (June 2015). Bakosurtanal maps label the peak as ‘Nuaf Timau’ with a height of 1,779m.
You can be back down to the road in 45 minutes or so, before starting on the epic journey back to the Kupang-Soe highway. This return trip is a wonderful experience in the late afternoon as the sun is getting lower in the sky.
The Indonesian press (June 2015) reported that an Observatory will be constructed on hills nearby Fatu Timau but apparently not on the summit itself. If this project ever eventuates, road access will hopefully improve for people to enjoy to this lovely little mountain.
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn (August 2011); updated by Nick Hughes (June 2015)
Gunung Fatuleu (1,108m)
A much more popular and more accessible mountain from Kupang is Fatuleu, which is 1,108 metres high according to the Bakosurtanal map. It’s a very worthwhile half-day out from Kupang, taking about 90 minutes to reach the trailhead and a further hour to get to the top, if you are brave enough.
Fatuleu means ‘prayer rock’, and in previous times was a place where traditional leaders went to sacrifice animals and pray, for example for rainfall. The mountain is the imposing highest peak in a large area full of karst cliffs.
The trail starts at the car park (855m) where you might typically pay Rp5,000 for parking a motorbike or Rp10,000 for a car. The best times for photographs are dawn and dusk and although there may be no officials with tickets at 6am it is still possible to visit.
The first part of the trail is on cement steps past several pleasant traditional shelter and resting areas. The steps end at around 950m and the trail leads up through the jumble of karst rocks and forest. The really rocky part begins at 990m and there are some wonderful viewpoints here but do take real care with all the holes between the boulders. In the distance to the north you should be able to see Fatu Timau and in the opposite direction is the sea and the city of Kupang.
Working your way through the rocks you finally reach a near-vertical bare rockface (1,052m). Most visitors stop here, or even lower down, but the nimble, brave and experienced can continue on the dangerous climb up narrow ledges to the summit (1,108m). Most hikers can be at the base of the summit cliffs in about 45 minutes or less from the trailhead, so allow an hour (one way) to reach the true summit but take extreme care if attempting it.
For a high quality PDF version of this and other trail maps, please download from our Trail Maps page.
- Getting there: There are plenty of buses on the main Kupang-Soe road but you still have a huge distance to cover on poor tracks. It’s best to arrange transport in Kupang beforehand (4WD if possible) rather than trying to get lucky with ojek driver who may not nknow the way or be happy with the terrain and/or distance. From Kupang, it’s about 90 minutes to Takari where you take a bumpy track inland (opposite the police station) towards Lelogama (not signposted). After Lelogama you will almost certainly need to stop and ask locals who may or may not speak Bahasa Indonesia, let alone English! That’s why taking a guide is well worth it. From the Takari turning it takes around 4 hours to reach the shoulder of the mountain.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Fatu Timau information pack can be downloaded here.
- Permits: None required.
- Water sources: There is no water on the hike and there are no shops anywhere near the mountain. Make sure you buy drinking water before you turn off the main Kupang-Soe road.
- 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
Literally ‘the rock of Timau’ – Timau is the name of a place nearby. (Gabriel Faimau, 2011)