Tamkesi Traditional Village

The small mountain village of Tamkesi is one of the most traditional and least visited of West Timor’s fascinating indigenous villages.

Traditional hut in Tamkesi village, West Timor

Image courtesy of Theo van Beusekom

The ritual centre of the Biboki kingdom, once home to the kings Neno Biboki and Funan Biboki, the village is situated on a lofty mountain top between twin rocky outcrops named Tapenpah and Oepuah, symbols of male and female. The location is both sacred and strategic, a natural fort that made the village highly defensible from enemy attack.

These days most of the villagers live in modern housing built with government aid a short distance downhill from the original village site where there is a better water supply. However, a few families continue to live in the old village as caretakers and keepers of the sacred megalithic stone altars where goes and chickens are sacrificed and the tiered palace complex, lopo and ume kbuubu traditional houses.

Traditional "lopo" in Tamkesi village

Image courtesy of Theo van Beusekom

Whilst the Tamkesi villagers are happy to receive visitors, no one in the village speaks English and Bahasa Indonesia rarely so it’s essential that you travel to the village with a guide who knows the local dialect. You should also bring a gift of betel nut and make a small donation to the village headman as a mark of courtesy; a small price to pay for the privilege of visiting the village.

Tamkesi can be comfortably done as a half day trip from Kefamenanu. The village is located about 28km’s to the northwest and can be reached by private car or ojek in around 45min. You’ll need to walk a short distance from the new village up to the site of the old village.

28km from Kefamenanu
North central highlands, West Timor, Indonesia
3-4 hours
Get there
Private car or ojek
Need to know
A good guide is almost essential