Start: Vila town sign
Finish: Vila town sign
Distance: 10.2km (return), climb to Manukoko Ridge 963m
Time: 5-6 hours walking return (not including stops)
Difficulty: Hard (gradient, steep drop-offs and heat)
Highlights: According to local tradition, a person has not truly visited Ataúro until that have climbed to the highest point of the island—Manukoko Peak. This sacred mountain represents much for the sucos of Ataúro, from the primary freshwater source on the island to the location of many legends and ancient traditions. As you wind your way up the path, take note of the vegetation change, from dry and grassy to lush and tropical. Keep an eye out for a wide variety of colorful birds, some known only to the island or Timor-Leste—14 restricted-range bird species
have been identified in this area by BirdLife International, including the endangered Timor Green Pigeon.
Trail Description: From Vila initially head up steep road past the Cave of our Lady Mary. Near Maulaco turn off onto track climbing steeply upwards towards Manukoko. Eventually vegetation changes to forest. Towards top join track from Anartutu and then head south-west, where you will still be in the forest until a narrow scrub-covered rocky ridge that you will climb in order to summit. Enjoy the spectacular scenery and view of the island, snap plenty of photos, then head back down.
Equipment: Trekking boots and walking pole recommended
Guide: Guide compulsory (Manukoko is a sacred mountain and you must take a guide) – very easy to get off track (mist, track very overgrown); some very steep drop-offs (two very exposed traverses, one short vertical climb) and track can be slippery
Variants: Instead of returning to Vila, descend on west side to Anartutu village and then get 4WD pick up (Abaktedi or Anartutu) late afternoon – longer day but less walking and you will see more of the island. You can also stay overnight in Anartutu and hike down to Beloi, or even over to Adara on the west side. The options are endless if you’re willing to explore!