Tamkessi is a remote tribal village, similar to those found on Flores Island, with equally limited transport connections – so the question is, is it worth the trip? Read on…

Like the indigenous villages of Wae Rebo, Bena & Wogo, Tamkessi maintains its animist heritage. Every 7 years, a traditional ceremony called Natamamausa begins with a goat sacrifice, as a symbol of thanks for the harvest & rainy season.

Tourist at Tamkessi Village

Girl vs Village

For most of the few tourists that venture this far, the journey from Kupang & Kefamenanu is a long one. Indeed, Tamkessi is one of the few attractions in West Timor.

The final stretch from Tamkessi centre involves hiring a motorbike for 40,000 IDR for the return trip – the driver will wait as you visit the village.

The steep 20 minute ride to the elevated village is a rocky & bumpy affair. If you can stomach the worst, the views are spectacular:

Bumpy motorbike ride to Tamkessi

The long & winding road to Tamkessi village

Getting off the motorbike at the base of the village requires a further climb on foot. Stairs take you up to various layers of beehive-shaped huts, all built from wood, grass & palm trees, all built into bedrock.

West Timor Tamkessi Village

Looking up at the first huts of Tamkessi village

Tamkessi wood, grass, palm tree huts

The huts are all made of jungle material: wood, grass & palm trees

Our visit was eerily quiet – where were the inhabitants, hiding inside the huts?

Traditional Hut Tamkessi Village

Anyone home?

The only people we saw were the few villagers waiting to receive us inside one of the larger, open huts. After our self-guided tour, we signed the guestbook & made a donation. Supposedly you should also bring an offering of betel nuts but this was unknown to us at the time.

Sign the guestbook at Tamkessi village

Sign the guestbook & make a donation

Located between jutting limestone cliffs, Tamkessi is one of West Timor’s best preserved villages. However it is similar to Wae Rebo, Bena & Wogo villages on Flores Island – if you’ve visited them & are short on time, Tamkessi may not be worth the hassle. On the hand, there are few attractions on Timor Island so if you’ve come this far, exploring more than just Kupang & Dili will give you a better sense of the region.

High up in the mountains, accessible only by motorbike, walking amongst its beehive huts is a wonderful step back in time.

Limestone rocks behind Tamkessi Village

The limestone rocks are a stunning backdrop to a beautifully-preserved village

Transport to Tamkessi

Buses from Kupang to Kefamenanu leave from Teminal Oebobo, about 30 mins from the city centre (take a microbus for 3,000). The trip takes almost 5 hours. Tickets are 50,000 IDR. We left at 5:30pm but there should be regular, or at least earlier, departures.

In “Kefa”, transport leaves from the terminal in the centre of town, opposite Hotel Ariesta. Microbuses to Tamkessi cost 15,000 IDR & the trip takes over 1hr. Much to our frustration after an overnight in a hotel sofa, the first morning run was only at 10am.

Kefamenanu to Tamkessi bus terminal

Kefamenanu bus terminal

On arrival in Tamkessi, you’ll be met by a bunch of motorbikes. The cost to Tamkessi Village is 40,000 IDR per person/bike for a return trip – don’t waste time like we did trying to find a better deal. The roads are very bumpy but scenic & the ride is approximately 20 mins.

Note that the microbus service from Tamkessi back to Kupang is very limited, & there may only be a 1.5 hour turn around time – this barely gives you enough time to visit the village.

If you are caught out or prefer more time, your motorbike can take you to the main highway intersection for an extra 20,000 IDR. From here, you can catch a bus back to Kefamenanu/Kupang or your next destination.

I jumped on a bus to Atambua for 20,000 IDR, in order to continue on to the East Timor border the next day – see the post Crossing the Border to East Timor Overland.

Our transport recommendation:

  • Leave Kupang early in the morning, to arrive in Kefamenanu around noon
  • Take a microbus to Tamkessi (1.5 hours)
  • Take a motorbike to the village (1.5-2hr return)
  • Take a microbus back to Kefamenanu or continue on motorbike to the main highway intersection, for buses to Kefamenanu, Kupang, Atambua & other destinations
Waiting at Bus Terminal Kefamenanu

Waiting & waiting at Kefamenanu bus terminal

Accommodation in Kefemenanu

Hotels are expensive or limited in Kefamenanu, so arrive early enough to find a place or have something in mind before arriving. There is a budget hotel, a few kms from the city centre.

We had no luck finding a cheap place at 10:30pm. Rooms at Hotel Ariesta were around 250,000 IDR (discounted). We didn’t take the room but they were kind enough to let us sleep overnight in their lobby – beware of mosquitos!

*** The Final Word: Only worth the hassle if you’re already in Timor ***

Have you been to Tamkessi or any other villages in Timor?

Feet up at Hotel Asteria Kefamenanu

Feet up & settling in for the night at the lobby of Hotel Asteria

 

3 Shovels

Accessible DIY travel to more distant locations via multiple connections or longer forms of public transport

Visited in October 2015