Dili International Airport, Timor-Leste
Maddog Adventures acknowledges the support of the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia and Timor Adventures in the launch of La Rende!
Embark on a pilgrimage as you follow a trail that connects sites of significance in the guerrilla campaign fought by Australia’s first commando forces in Timor-Leste and the Kriadu, Timorese people who walked alongside them, and honour those who bravely fought and lost their lives in 1942. Gain insight into the difficult terrain Australian forces had to endure during WWII and experience life in remote mountainous villages.
The whole trek traverses the entire island of Timor from North to South, some 130km. This expedition covers the first half of the trek from Bazartete to Hatabulico approximately 75km, 6 days of intense hiking. The trail crosses rugged ridges, crystal clear rivers, passes through Portuguese era coffee plantations, thick tropical jungles and crosses Mount Ramelau, which peaks at 2,986m. It can be trekked year round but is best attempted during the dry season May – November to avoid the wet season and associated risks of heavy rain and landslides.
While on tour you’ll explore the untold story of the 2/2nd Independent Company who in 1942 were sent to Kupang in the Dutch East Indies as part of a joint Australian and Dutch operation to defend against the expected Japanese invasion. A Dutch commander took members of the 2/2nd into Portuguese Timor to defend the nation but shortly after their arrival the Japanese invaded and their radio to contact Australia was destroyed. Members of the 2/2nd then went into the mountains to the west of Dili and fought a successful guerrilla war against the Japanese with the support of the Timorese people. They were Australia’s 1st commandos to see action. This tour follows their story.
The name La Rende! means ‘no surrender’ and refers to an incident in March 1942 when David Ross, the British Consul in Dili, was sent by invading Japanese forces to a deliver surrender demand to the Australian HQ in Hatolia. The demand was rejected. The name also resonates strongly with Timorese Independence War veterans who campaigned along the track against the Indonesian occupiers between 1975 – 1999 and did not surrender. After decades of protracted struggle Timor-Leste finally become an independent nation in 2002.
This trek best suits moderate to advanced hikers. It is physically demanding and training is essential. There are two ways to tackle this hike and you can choose your level based on your fitness, budget and comfort.
Moderate Level: Use of Timorese ponies* or vehicle shuttle for an additional USD $350, carrying only a light day pack with daily essentials, food and water.Advanced Level: Completely self-sufficient, carrying all equipment and food.
*Timorese ponies are an important part of the 2/2nd story. They are ideally suited to the mountains and were used by the 2/2nds to carry supplies and equipment, and add an element of authenticity to the trek.
Arrive in Dili and settle into Hotel Timor before heading out for a sunset walk to the summit of Cristo Rei, accessible by a 590-step staircase, with 360 degree panoramic views of Dili.
Take in the sights and sounds of the city over dinner.
Spend the morning exploring Santa Cruz Cemetery and the Resistance Museum, and learn about the Timorese struggle under Indonesian occupation.
Head to Agora Food Studio, a social enterprise, and explore traditional foods through preparing and cooking your own lunch, followed by a coffee cupping experience at Café Atsabe.
Spend the morning exploring the Sparrow Force House, participate in a Dili Battlefield tour and gain insight into the 2/2nd campaign. Complete a final gear check before driving to the trail head located just outside of Bazartete. Trek a short distance to Asumanu. Bazartete, is where Lieutenant Tom Nisbet’s 4 Section of B Platoon mounted an attack against the Japanese with 200 men. Under severe pressure, the Australia’s conducted a fighting withdrawal towards Hatolia. Casualities: 2 Australians and over 40 Japanese. (D)
This morning ascend through corn fields and stunning views towards the coast. Enjoy a traditional Timorese lunch, before descending through Portuguese era coffee plantations. Walk in the footsteps of a party from the C Platoon who in 1942 crossed swollen streams to reach a Japanese-owned SAPT plantation in Fatubessi, where they seized radio equipment to try and regain communication with Australia. (B, L, D)
Distance: 11.9kmDescent: 698mAscent: 916km
Explore more coffee plantations, fishing farms and cross rickety bamboo bridges on your trek towards Hatolia. Situated high in the rugged mountain regions Hatolia was a significant gathering point after Japanese invasion. On Friday 13 March, 1942 David Ross, the British Consul-General, who had been held under house arrest in Dili, arrived in Hatolia with a Japanese surrender demand. The initial reaction was reportedly terse and typically Australian: ‘Surrender! Surrender be f…d.’ (B, L, D)
Distance: 13.9kmDescent: 823mAscent: 381m
Descend down to the Mota (river) Loes, trekking through dry river paddy fields and past local buffalo. If time permits, explore the local hot springs.
Enjoy a traditional lunch in Lemeia Craic. Continue ascending to Laquiama through rugged cliff lines picking and eating papaya rocks along the way. (B, L, D)
Distance: 14.6kmDescent: 648mAscent: 620m
Hike through coffee country flanked to the north by Cailcao Mountain and to the east by Mount Ramelau, which you’ll summit tomorrow. As far back as 1942 Atsabe was lauded for its allure with a tourism pamphlet suggesting an investigation of Bandeira waterfall. Today Mota (river) Bandeira, located near the Raimutin Wet Mill, remains a popular waterfall and one of the country’s main tourist destinations. (B, L, D)
Distance: 12kmDescent: 386mAscent: 651m
Trek to Hatabulico up and over Mount Ramelau, the tallest mountain in Timor-Leste, which stands at 2,986m. Expect an early morning as the aim is to summit the mountain in time for sunrise. Mount Ramelau is a site of deep religious and cultural significance and is adorned with a statue of the Virgin Mary at its peak. On a clear day the view from the top reaches across a patchwork of dense green forest and rolling hills, the coastline visible in the distance. Enjoy the surreal experience of viewing the entire nation from a single vantage point. Watch your step on the steep zigzagging descent. (B, L, D)
Distance: 15kmDescent: 950mAscent: 1,200m
Tour a local Uma Lulik, a Timorese ‘sacred hut,’ and visit the spectacular Mota (river) Dokomali waterfall, before heading back along the windy mountainous path to Dili. Visit the Maubisse Liberator Crash and Dare Memorial Museum and Cafe. Established in 1969 with funds raised by the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia, Dare is the site of a significant firefight. Enjoy a well-earned warm shower and dinner back in Dili. (B, L)
Join the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at the base of Cristo Rei in Dili, followed by brunch on the beach. Visit the Tais Market, a small daily market that sells mainly traditional cloth and souvenirs, and the Alola Foundation which supports the girls and women of Timor-Leste. (B)
Enjoy a leisurely morning and a Portuguese tart (or many).
After lunch head to the Dili International Airport for your return flight home (or journey onward). (B)
This initial walk of the La Rende! Trek is dedicated to the memory of Major James “Jim” Francis Truscott OAM, (ret.) 1956-2021.
Limited credit card and ATM facilities are avilable in Dili. Outside of Dili you will need to carry small value cash and coins (maximum USD $20 notes). Please note only Visa debit and credit cards are accepted. No Mastercards are accept at this stage in Timor-Leste.
Yes, you will need to purchase a 30-day visa on arrival. Visa’s cost USD $30 per person. This must be paid in cash.
Yes, all participants will require travel insurance. It is highly recommended that this cover is taken out at the time of booking. A copy of your travel insurance policy will need to be supplied to Maddog Adventures prior to your trip.
We work closely with Lisa Malnar from Travel Managers and highly recommend contacting her to book domestic transfers and international connections to Dili, Timor-Leste. Lisa is based in Darwin and is an all round Timor-Leste travel expert. She can assist with transiting accommodation in Darwin, group bookings, travel insurance and most importantly she will ensure your international connections fit our travel itineraries.
We do not recommend drinking tap water in Timor-Leste, so avoid it and stick to sealed bottled water which is readily available. This includes steering clear of ice in drinks and brushing your teeth with tap water.
All our lead staff are Wilderness First Aid trained and we carry a comprehensive First Aid Kit with us at all times and can offer first response care. For more serious ailgments we will take you to Stamford Medical, which is an international standard private healthcare provider based in Dili. We also use Doctors On Call, telehealth services and Care Flight Darwin in case of an evac emergency.**Please note as per our T&Cs any medical care or evacuation organised by Maddog Adventures is at the personal cost of the participant or their travel insurance.
To travel to Timor-Leste you will need to be fully vaccinated against Covid 19 (proof of minimum 2 doses) and make sure all your routine vaccinations are up to date. We recommend visiting your doctor prior to travel to discuss any additional vaccines or medications you may need.
We use a variety of in-country transportation methods depending on which district we are traveling too. We use 4 Wheel Drives for in-land travel and a combination of Dragon boat, catamaran, and local charter boats for sea travel. Sometimes, we even take a MAF charter flight.
USD is the main currency in Timor-Leste. Limited ATMs (Visa only) are available in Dili, but it’s always advisiable to bring cash with you. Smaller notes (maximum USD $20) and coins should be carried for travel outside of Dili, as is can be difficult to get change for larger notes.
Timor-Leste has a hot tropical climate, with a dry season from May – November and a wet season from December – April. Coastal temperatures range from 25 – 35 C. It’s cooler in the mountains and can be damp and misty, a perfect retreat from the heat.
We take participant health and wellbeing very seriously. Risk is an inherent part of all tours, but we do our best to mitigate, manage and reduce the risk of these hazards causing harm. We work with our staff and suppliers to ensure that all of our products and experiences meet our high standards.