It was these views that made this such a strategic location to the Portuguese nearly 400 years ago when they founded the Balibo Fort to overlook and protect the colonial port town of Batugade and the route ways through the surrounding mountains. The location of the Balibo Fort was so valued that it moved the border between what was once Dutch West Timor and Portuguese East Timor. The Portuguese came to Balibo and East Timor in the 16th century, originally for the sandalwood but they soon realized this was a great location for coffee cultivation and today coffee is one of Timor Leste’s main export products, second only to oil. The Balibo Fort has been at the centre of this island’s history for many 100s of years from the Portuguese to the Independence movement. Portugal relinquished many of its colonies in 1974 when facing its own internal problems as a result of a military coup at home. Indonesia then invaded East Timor in 1975 and so started a brutal occupation that ended in 1999. Timor Leste was finally recognized as an independent democratic republic on the 20th of May 2002.
The Balibo Fort witnessed much of this history, not least of which was the sad episode in 1975 that resulted in the loss of life of many folks in Balibo village and of 5 journalists who were at the fort covering the turbulent times around the fight for power after Portugal’s releasing of East Timor and the subsequent invasion by Indonesia. It is this sad passage in the history of Timor Leste that provided the motivation for the formation of the Balibo Trust that not only oversees the protection and preservation of the Balibo Fort, but also works closely with the local community offering support and opportunity through various projects including education, healthcare and the promotion of heritage based tourism all in the name of the people of Balibo who lost their lives during the occupation and of the Balibo Five.
Your Host and The Team
The Balibo Fort Perfectly Combines History, Heritage and Hospitality
Today, the 400-year-old Balibo Fort is home to a unique Timor Leste boutique hotel that is steeped in over 400years of history, surrounded by stunning natural scenery and closely linked to a warm and culture rich community. The Balibo Fort Hotel houses 8 well-appointed rooms, all air-conditioned and with private en-suite bathrooms. The guest rooms at Balibo Fort are all set within purpose built new buildings, single storey, that have been set on an elevated position to share the best views looking over the fort walls towards the surrounding countryside and mountains beyond. Bright and airy, Balibo Fort’s guest rooms all have large floor to ceiling windows that open out to a sit-out to enjoy the views. Balibo Fort’s restaurant, ‘Alimento’, serves a delicious menu of international, Portuguese and Timorese cuisine all crafted by the kitchen team from the freshest produce and ingredients sourced from local growers and farmers in rural Balibo.
The village of Balibo is close to the fort making trips to the village to learn about the local culture and way of life just a short and easy stroll from the hotel. All meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, are supported by a well-stocked bar with a wine list offering alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Dining al fresco at tables set in the garden that surrounds the hotel’s restaurant is the perfect choice to enjoy the scenery and views. Balibo enjoys a tropical climate with a dry season from May to November and a wet season from December through April. Evenings at the Balibo Fort Hotel in the dry season can get as cool as 15 degrees Celsius (from a daytime high of 26 degrees Celsius) so sitting in the garden around the open fire swapping stories of the day with friends and fellow guests is the perfect way to close a day on a stay at the Balibo Fort Hotel.
The hotel also has an infinity edged swimming pool, positioned to enjoy views of the mountains. Of all the Timor Leste resorts Balibo Fort has the history, the heritage, incredible views and a warm and personal style of hospitality. It is worth noting that the Balibo Trust includes hospitality training within its education programs that it provides to the community, so an attention to detail whilst retaining the uniquely Timor Leste personality in the service style at the Balibo Fort Hotel is guaranteed.
What to do During your Stay at the Balibo Fort Hotel
Located about two hours and thirty minutes west of Timor Leste’s capital city, Dili, the Balibo Fort Hotel is perfectly positioned for guests looking to enjoy the island’s countryside, nature, mountain scenery and tribal culture. Of the tribal cultures of Timor Leste, the dominant tribal group is the Tetum tribe. One of the biggest tribal groups on the island, the Tetum language is one of Timor Leste’s official languages. In the area around Balibo you may encounter the Kemak people amongst other clans and tribes as Timor Leste is home to 6 ethnic groups, and a guided trek is the best way to learn about the lifestyles and cultures of the tribal groups. Taking treks directly from the Balibo Fort Hotel is also possible. A trek around the village of Balibo to learn the history of the Balibo 5, with a stop along the way in the Balibo House Museum.
A little further afield from Balibo Fort is the Gruta Morutau, an ancient site of worship that is now a catholic shrine to the Virgin Mary. Take a short drive from the fort down to the beach at Batugade or a short walk from the hotel to Duanele Cave. The Balibo Fort Hotel is the perfect home from home when exploring north-west Timor Leste with the wonderful variety of countryside, hills and mountains surrounding the hotel. Ramelau Mountain, Timor Leste’s highest mountain (2,963m) is a great place for trekking and offers some amazing views of the island. Cycling is also a popular choice for visitors to explore the countryside surrounding the Balibo Fort Hotel. Another popular trip while visiting Balibo is to nearby waterfalls or the hot springs at Marobo. And be sure to keep one eye on the skies during your stay at the Balibo Fort Hotel as the region is blessed with birdlife. Timor Leste is home to more than 240 species of birds, including resident and migrant birds. Trekking, culture, breathtaking natural scenery, mountains to the sea, and a deep history, a stay at the Balibo Fort Hotel has all this to share with you whilst enjoying their unique boutique hotel and warm hospitality. Be sure to plan enough time for your stay at The Balibo Fort Hotel, the only complaint we hear is guests wishing they had stayed longer.
Standard Room (8 units)At 32sqm the Standard Rooms comfortably sleep from 1 to 3 guests – to sleep 3 guests requires the addition of an extra bed (chargeable). These rooms are fitted with Hollywood twins and can easily be made up into a comfy King-Sized bed on request. All the rooms are air-conditioned and set with a private en-suite bathroom fitted with a walk-in shower. Bright and airy the Standard Rooms at the Balibo Fort Hotel all enjoy floor to ceiling windows that open out to a sit-out to enjoy the views that surround the hotel. Complimentary WiFi is available in the guest rooms and at the restaurant.
GENERALTotal number of rooms: 8
Time zone: (GMT+09:00) Tokyo
Currency accepted: USD
Credit cards accepted: Visa, Mastercard
Electricity voltage: 220V
Electricity plug type:
CONTACTBalibó Fort Hotel, Balibo District, Timor Leste , Timor Leste
ACCESSApproximately 2h30mn from Dili Airport following the coastline.
Airport: Dili President Nicolau Lobato International Airport (DIL) - 120 km
Airport: Atambua Domestic Airport in Indonesia (ABU) - 34 km
contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org
Community support actions and work undertaken by the Balibo trust includes:
- The promotion of early childhood education through the Balibo Five Kindergarten and the five primary schools the Trust has constructed.
- Skill development provided for locals at the Balibo Community Learning Centre.
- Opportunities for employment and income for locals at the Balibo Fort Hotel and at the Dental Clinic founded by the Trust.
- Providing free dental treatment and oral hygiene programs through community education.
- Fostering an appreciation and awareness of the significance of Balibo in the relationships between Australia, Timor-Leste and Indonesia.
- Maintaining a permanent memorial to the five journalists murdered at Balibo in 1975 and to the Balibo people murdered during the Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste.
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