It is highly recommended that you use a guide on all of the walks around Hatobuilico for cultural and economic reasons, as well as for safety and courtesy.
Culturally, traditional cultural practices continue to be observed and this is part of the wonderful flavour of the area and why people want to visit. Significant days of mountains are celebrated. The deities of old and newer religions are both appeased and thanked for the harvest and he rain. People believe that the movement and behaviour of people impact on natural events. There are many sites of power only known to some, or only at some times, and only to those in the company of people known to that place. Visitors must be taken to some places by “family” of the community.
Cultural practices, both ancient and some from the advent of Catholicism, have an important place in community and environmental harmony. Guides will know where you can go and can introduce you as needed.
The community have agreed that visitors are welcome to take the many walks outlined in this website but only in the company of guides. They have not agreed that visitors being misfortune upon themselves or others by walking in places unaccompanied and uninvited. Please respect their wishes.
There are economic reasons for using guides as well. Timor Leste is one of the poorest countries in the Asia. Unemployment is high. Poor roads can make it difficult for farming families in this isolated area to sell their produce at the regional markets. The money that young men (and maybe women in the future) make through guiding will not only help feed their families, but contribute to their education and that of their siblings.
There are safety reasons for using a guide also. The paths are not marked, can be slippery and steep. A guide will assist with navigating the safest and simplest route. Many of the paths pass by family compounds and a guide will indicate the best route to take and also assist with navigating dogs.
How to find a guide
Guides can be arranged through the local guesthouses. You can ask the guesthouse owner for names of guides or look on the walls for signs with the contact details of guides. Some guides have mobile phones and you can call them and negotiate with them. Otherwise, ask in the street.
You must expect to pay your guide.
Many of the guides in Hatobuilico have attended training on guiding and tourism provided through the East Timor Development Association in Dili – ETDA are a training institution of high repute. Look for a guide that is 20 years of age or older as they are the people who attended the training.
You will need to negotiate your trip in advance. You need to say where you want to go (or get advice and agree with the guide beforehand), agree about a start time and where you and the guide will meet and ask when they estimate you will return.
Paying your guide
Importantly, you need to negotiate a price for the trip in advance.
If your group is over 4 people or includes children or elderly people then take two guides in case one or more or your group decides to turn back.
You can expect to pay $15 for a group of four for a half day walk, $25 for a full day. If you are a smaller group or walking alone, expect to pay the same rates and if your group is larger, expect the rates to increase a little. Negotiate your price by the group, rather than by the person.
Payment on the completion of the walk is the most common practice.
Note that the guide will not bring water, food or first aid supplies for you. You must bring your own supplies. Similarly, you need to have your own torch.
What you can expect of guides
You can expect that guides will fulfill the commitments that they have made to you (that is, about time they will meet you and so on).
You can expect that you will pay them the price they negotiated with you in advance. A tip is not expected.
You can also expect that they will walk in front of the group and also check that the slower members of the group are constantly under their care.
Some guides have excellent local knowledge and the language skills to discuss this with you. For all guides, English is their second language.