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Timor-Leste

Marobo Hot Springs

No one is quite sure of the origins of these idyllic natural hot springs at an abandoned mountain resort. 

Marobo is an isolated village on the border between the Ermera and Bobonaro provinces in Timor-Leste. Hidden in this remote part of the world, down a bumpy, turbulent dirt road, lay hot springs and the remains of what must have once been an idyllic retreat in a lush, tropical mountain setting.

Who built this resort is a matter of contention. Though a few sources claim the Japanese constructed it during World War II, many others say the Portuguese created it during their 500-year colonial stint. The truth might sit somewhere between these two views, with the Japanese renovating and perhaps expanding what the Portuguese had previously started.

Who built what exactly may never be known. What is known, however, is that the local population was forcibly mobilized to undertake the construction work in what is clearly a violation of human rights.

Today, the only surviving remnants of this resort are a stone building, numerous terraced falls, and the pools, all set in a lush green landscape with a great view of the surrounding mountains.

The hot springs produce nearly 530 gallons of water per minute, and have the characteristic pungent stank of sulphur. They also contain a large quantity of sodium and calcium. The highest temperature of the water is approximately 120°F, and is found where the small falls are.

Know Before You Go

The roads from Maliana or from Bobonaro are paved but dangerous, with massive potholes and segments of road that have collapsed. The dirt road leading down to the hot springs is very steep and slippery. To reach this location, you need a 4x4 vehicle or a motorbike, but most of all, you need an experienced driver.