Commonly referred to simply as Kefa, the central highlands town of Kefamenanu is the capital of the North Central Timor regency. It’s connected by road to the city of Atambua over by the border with East Timor but most travellers will approach via Soe, a long winding 2 hour drive and 80km to the southwest.
Whilst poorly regulated manganese mining near Kefa has left a nasty environmental legacy, it has furnished the town with some good hotels and restaurants so the town is a good base from which to explore the traditional village of Tamkesi, Maubesi Market town, Oelolok village and Goa Bitauni.
Maubesi Market Town
Located about 30min drive east of Kefa, the market town of Maubesi is not to be missed. The thriving local market is held down by the river and it’s a sprawling, noisy market bursting with locally grown produce, textiles, fish and the freshly slaughtered meat of pigs, goats, chickens and even dogs. It’s crazy and colourful and even though the dog thing is a bit confronting, it’s fascinating.
The market is held on Thursday mornings but even if you miss it, it’s still worth dropping in to Maubesi for a look. Alternatively, nearby Manufui village has a worthwhile local market on a Saturday and Oelolok village holds its market on a Wednesday. Any of these three markets can be combined with Tamkesi traditional village and Gua Bitauni into a daytrip out of Kefa.
There’s probably more markets nearby that we don’t know about so ask your guide if your itinerary doesn’t quite work out.