Mt. Ramelau – we knocked the bugger off

It took over 2 years but finally the Mt. Ramelau ascent has been achieved with no oxygen or indeed any sophisticated climbing equipment.  That’s because you don’t need it unless you are not a finely tuned athlete like myself.  The biggest post-ascent health problem was sunburnt lips – worse than oxyxgen deprivation, I imagine.

I pooh-pooh the convention (insisted in guide books) to head off post-dawn in order to reach the top as the sun rises.  I am more in the reach the top for morning tea category – much more civilised.  Its a bit of a trek from Dili to get to the start at Hato Builico.  Although Ramelau is 70kms south of Dili, it is around 105kms by road to the open grassy field a few kms above Hato Builico.  An overnight stop at Maubisse is probably best if you want to be refreshed for the 2.5 hour climb/walk.  But it is still 2.5 hours drive from Dili to Maubisse then a further 1.5 hours to the grassy field.

We did not use a guide but I would think one is mandatory if you want to do a pre-dawn climb.  They are available at Hato Builico but the starting price is ridiculous.  In brief :

  • the 4 hour non-stop drive home after reaching the top was as knackering as the walk itself – my hands were sore from the constant steering work (105 kms divided by 4 hours equals very slow but as fast as I could do it without passengers screaming)
  • a 4WD is recommended but absolutely essential if wet conditions prevail
  • there are no road signs – brief yourself on the exact route as the turn-off to Hato Builico is a hidden trap as is the road up from Hato Builico to the grassy field
  • wear good non-slip footwear – the climb up is similar to the gravelly conditions of the hills around Dili
  • expect to see no-one on Mt. Ramelau
  • bring food, drink etc. from Dili
  • enjoy the views of the sea on both sides of the island including clear views of the town of Ainaro on the southern side

Take 2 days and don’t rush it.